Finding The World’s Best Olive Oil

Good ingredients make a great kitchen. 

Of every dish that passes across your table, it’s likely that there will always be a few common threads between them. Oils and spices have been prized ingredients since the cradle of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. Localized flavors eventually grew into global pursuits as cultures migrated to new geographies and trade routes like the Silk Road opened up for business.

Coffee may originate from the horn of Africa, but today it is grown on every tropical continent and readily available at your nearest bodega. Oil produced from fruit of the olive tree has taken a similar path to globalization. Originating from the Mediterranean basin, olive oil is now produced in similar climates around the world. The industry is booming.

The World’s Best Olive Oil

Finding the best ingredients is a lifelong pursuit for most kitchens. It’s a highly-subjective process that is typically influenced by the tastes of the table, availability of local ingredients, and the chef’s level of exposure to global cuisine.

For foodies in North America, extra virgin olive oil is often regarded as the gold standard for cooking and dressing a meal. Unfortunately, there are so many choices, labels and seals of certification it can be difficult to understand where to begin. 

Tracking down the world’s best olive oil for your palate will take time and a lot of tasting. The best way to find the flavors you love is through experience. As a starting point, it can be helpful to hone in on the most distinctive flavors from each olive oil producing region.

Through this series of articles, we will be exploring some of the most iconic flavors, specialties, and traditions from the world’s top olive producing regions.

A flat lay of ingredients for vegan pesto including garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, and pumpkin seeds.

Olive Oil Regions

If you live in North America, you’re probably aware of at least a few household names. Italian olive oil is especially popular in the US, and distributors have done a great job of creating a brand for it here.

It’s worth noting up front that “Italian olive oil” is only the tip of the EVOO iceberg, and also not very precise.

Did you know that there are 18 distinctive olive regions in Italy? We discovered when speaking with industry pros, the characteristics of olive oil and where it comes from can get granular very quickly.

For purposes of our exploration, each article in this series will focus on a single country of origin. We took this approach to make the content digestible, and because in the US most olive oil bottles are labeled clearly to indicate the production country. 

We spoke with industry experts from some of the top olive producing countries to understand what makes their olive oil unique from the rest of the world,

Household Names

Some People Know

  • France (coming soon)
  • Croatia (coming soon)
  • Turkey (coming soon)
  • Tunisia (coming soon)

Up And Coming

  • Argentina (coming soon)
  • California (US) (coming soon)
  • Australia (coming soon)
  • New Zealand (coming soon)

About the author

David is the creator of Kitchen Ambition, and has been cooking seriously for about 10 years. Originally from the American South, the spirit of bringing people together fueled his passion for cooking.

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