Looking for good, cheap olive oil
August 31, 2007 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I know relatively nothing about olive oil except that my local grocery stores sell overpriced crap. Can you recommend a good oil that's available online from a reputable source?

-Extra virgin
-Largish quantities OK
-Cheaper than grocery store stuff
posted by c:\awesome to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You appear to be in Chicago--have you tried Greek or Middle Eastern groceries?
posted by gimonca at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2007

Response by poster: Looking for online only. But thanks.
posted by c:\awesome at 1:57 PM on August 31, 2007

If you don't know anything about olive oil, how do you know that what your local stores sell is both crap, and overpriced? Are you looking to manufacture or re-sell in some way?

My grocery store carries olive oil in all price points, so I don't know what your "cheaper than grocery store" range might be.

But, I have purchased oil retail from the Oilerie, in Door County, Wisconsin; they do a brisk internet business. Their flavored oils are excellent, my favorite for cooking. They do not sell largish quantities though.
posted by pineapple at 2:13 PM on August 31, 2007

Really and truly, you shouldn't buy olive oil taste-untested, as it were. Would you buy an unknown wine off the internet? Well, maybe you would, I don't know.

Olive oil flavors can vary tremendously, from slightly bland to peppery to overly unctuous. The problem is finding a grocery that will allow you to taste before you buy. If you're lucky, you can. If you're not, well, you have to trust the label.

Here's a good resource, and you can buy in bulk there.
posted by cooker girl at 2:21 PM on August 31, 2007

I seriously doubt you're going to find online sources that are any more affordable than the bricks-and-mortar stores. Online sources tend to be all about expensive, small boutique bottlings and whatnot.
Honestly, even my podunk Indiana grocery store sells some quite tasty greek EVOO by the gallon and at a reasonable price.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2007

Response by poster: Not looking to manufacture or resell. A friend in the cooking biz once hooked me up with a big tin of "really good olive oil" from one of his distributors. For cheap. That's what I'm looking for; Brand recommendation, websites that sell them....that kind of stuff.
posted by c:\awesome at 2:24 PM on August 31, 2007

Not answering your question, but I enjoyed reading this recent article from The New Yorker on the trade in adulterated olive oil.
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2007

"Carm", best Olive Oil for the money.

You can ask them where to buy it online here:

posted by bkeene12 at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2007

I'd like to echo other comments here that you should really try different oils before you settle for something "really good" that someone recommended to you. Different types of olive oil can have different uses, cooking vs dressing being just the tip. And flavors can vary a lot. If all you're looking for is a decent oil for general cooking, you may as well go to a good int'l food store or even your supermarket and pick up a gallon+ tin of whatever they have in bulk.

The real, "really good" stuff can get awfully expensive and is better used sans heat.
posted by elendil71 at 3:15 PM on August 31, 2007

Probably restaurant distributors don't sell online.

Good olive oil is really great, but the top quality stuff isn't for cooking. I did a taste taste of cooked food between plain ol' and super expensive fancy and there was no difference. A lot of people concur. The exception is the really strong "grassy cooking" oils, those make a difference for cooking taste. An egg cooked in one of those is very different.

I know online stores that have good oil (word of mouth is the way to go here since tastings are unusual in the US), but they are expensive.
You don't need a spectacular oil for most cooking though.
posted by melissam at 5:17 PM on August 31, 2007

A friend in the cooking biz once hooked me up with a big tin of "really good olive oil" from one of his distributors.

Maybe you could ask that friend? Then come back here and tell the rest of us who are looking for good, reasonably priced everyday olive oil?
posted by notyou at 6:20 PM on August 31, 2007

Try local ethnic markets near you. Some of the best tasting olive oil I've had was mid-range stuff that came from a hole-in-the-wall Portuguese market in Brooklyn.

Supposedly the very nice EVOO is not for cooking, not only because its taste is lost by the time you eat, but also because its smoke point is lower than that of lower-grade olive oil ("pure"). So get a big thing of the "pure" grade stuff for cooking with, and get a small thing of nice "extra virgin" in a flavor you like and only use it for dressings and dipping bread into. Oils keep longer if they are shielded from light, too, so get an opaque container to decant them into if they're going to sit out on the counter.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2007

I buy my olive oil from these guys every time I go to Pensacola. They do sell online and it is absolutely amazing oil. Everyone I give it to has a hard time using other olive oils afterwards.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 11:01 PM on August 31, 2007

fwiw, my wife insists on this stuff. It’s organic, good...
posted by dpcoffin at 9:22 AM on September 1, 2007

Oliviers & Co sells some of the best olive oils I've tried, and has a web store.
posted by iviken at 3:38 PM on September 1, 2007

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