5 ways to tell if your olive oil is really "extra virgin"

5 ways to tell if your olive oil is really "extra virgin"

When you’re gracing your pan or tabletop with real extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the experience is momentous, rich, and full. True EVOO tastes vibrant, herbal: grassy, even. It’s thick (luxuriant), but smooth in a way that might prompt you to guzzle a little sip from a spoon, or off the tip of your finger.

“If you use EVOO every day, I encourage you to level up with Kosterina. It’s so fresh, you’ll want to drink it.”

— Danielle St. Pierre, Food Writer

Unfortunately, there are a lot of imposters out there.  

Real extra virgin olive oil contains 100% olive oil—nothing more, nothing less. Many manufacturers, however, dilute their olive oil with sunflower oil, soybean oil, or another culinary culprit—and mislabel it as extra virgin. In some cases, low-grade oil is even mixed with chemicals like chlorophyll (for color) and beta-carotene (for taste) to appear authentic.

You’re probably wondering how to tell which olive oils on supermarket shelves are actually extra virgin. Identifying true EVOO can be tricky. Most people—especially Americans—are so used to subpar olive oils that they’d have trouble identifying the real thing.

But there’s a reason why some of the world’s healthiest populations love authentic EVOO: nothing else compares in terms of both taste and health benefits (including protection against heart disease, inflammation, and high blood pressure).

Here are five simple steps for selecting an authentic EVOO.




Olive oils that smell musty, rancid, or odorless have no business in your kitchen—or drizzled over your favorite dishes. Fresh and flavorful, authentic EVOO whisks you away to the Mediterranean. Kosterina’s extra virgin olive oil will transport you: "One whiff and you almost imagine you're walking through the olive groves,” according to Martha Stewart magazine.

"One whiff and you almost imagine you're walking through the olive groves.”

Martha Stewart magazine

When tasting an olive oil, you may also recognize hints of grass, fruit, and almond. If the oil tastes slightly bitter and peppery, all the better! A slight burning sensation at the back of the throat simply means you have an early harvest, high-antioxidant oil on your hands. The color of an authentic oil may vary—EVOO can range from vivid green to a pale, strawish hue.




An olive oil label may say the product was “packed” or “bottled” in a certain location, but that doesn’t mean the olives were grown in the same place—or even that the oil was produced there. Some olive oils are sent to Italy or Greece for bottling, but produced elsewhere. The most important step in determining an olive oil's authenticity is checking where it was produced. In addition, the label should say “extra virgin.” Any additional terms like “pure,” “light,” or “olive pomace oil” indicate chemical refinement.




Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. Before making a purchase, scan a bottle’s label for terms like "bottled date" or “harvested date.” Olive oil maintains peak freshness for about a year and a half, so don’t let expiration dates fool you. If you see an expiration date without an accompanying harvest date, there’s a chance the oil is old. A good rule of thumb is to stick with EVOO that was harvested or bottled within the past 18 months.




Dark glass bottles and non-toxic tins are the safest EVOO packaging options. Clear bottles let in light that degrades oil quality, while plastic bottles are too porous to protect against heat, light, and moisture—and can easily spoil your EVOO.




Full of healthy polyphenols, “early harvest” olive oil is squeezed from unripe olives through a process that yields small amounts of the highest quality oil. It takes 12 pounds of fresh Koroneiki olives to produce just one bottle of Kosterina extra virgin olive oil! Since early harvest manufacturers yield much less oil through a labor-intensive process, their EVOO is more expensive when sold in stores.

Remember, quality EVOO takes time to produce—and comes with unparalleled health benefits: lower cholesterol, improved blood pressure, reduced risk of chronic disease, and more. When buying olive oil, it’s best to avoid bargain prices. A cheap bottle is a red flag for phonies.

What about those massive tins that tend to cost less per ounce? Avoid them. You want to consume olive oil shortly after opening it, so a smaller bottle is actually more cost-effective. Think of spending a little extra up front on a quality EVOO as an investment in your health.



At Kosterina, we’re committed to producing 100% authentic, high-polyphenol extra virgin olive oil. Our oils are made in small batches using early harvest olives from the orchards of Southern Greece.

No dilutions or deception. With Kosterina, you’ll always get authentic EVOO that delivers exceptional flavor and quality. Ready to taste the difference? Try one of our best-sellers below or shop our online store.