I love these trendy olive oil brands—here's why
We ordered from Pineapple Collaborative, Brightland, and Fat Gold.
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If I was a betting woman, I’d bet you’ve been cooking a lot more than usual thanks to a little thing called the pandemic. And where there’s cooking, there’s fat—no, not the kind that made you stress purchase an exercise bike—I’m talking olive oil! A liquid golden luxury that's been made for millennia, olive oil is rich in antioxidants, healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and can be good for cardiovascular health.
But because olive oil is made by squeezing tons of tiny, semi-hard, pit-filled fruit (yes, olives are technically stone fruit!), a commercially-grown tin of quality olive oil can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 at the grocery store. Add to that labels like "100% organic," "California-grown," "made by women," plus the convenience of online ordering. Then cover it in artful packaging, and you can imagine how all of this raises those prices even higher.
I tried three women-owned direct-to-consumer olive oil brands to see if they could enhance my home cooking experience enough to justify the price tags. Here’s what happened.
Founded in 2015 as a dinner potluck with friends, Pineapple Collaborative has since evolved into a multi-platform community for women in food (think: events, pop-ups, and digital content in the form a podcast and a blog called The Pantry). Co-founders Ariel Pasternak and Atara Bernstein grew this brand with a small but mighty team of Raisa Aziz, Ann Yang, Maddie Morales, and Jordan Miller from their home base of Washington, DC, and in Fall 2019 they launched their very own line of women-powered products: The Olive Oil and The Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV for short.
A tin of Pineapple Collaborative's olive oil costs $34 before shipping for 500 ml (16.9 oz) and will last up to one year after opening if stored at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. I know what you're thinking, "But that's a lot for olive oil!" The Olive Oil is made in collaboration with Kathryn Tomajan (co-founder of Fat Gold, but more on that later) using a blend of organic olives grown in California by the Ricchiuti family at ENZO Olive Oil Company and Rio Bravo Farm.
This means there are many hands that touch this tin before it's shipped to your home, and each contributor is paid equitably as part of Pineapple's mission. The Olive Oil is bright, ultra-smooth, and tastes delicious drizzled on salads, doused on roasted vegetables, or used for simply dipping a hunk of sourdough. Plus, once the tin is empty you can rinse it out and reuse as a vase for a few flower stems.
Pineapple's website is easy to navigate and products typically ship within a few days of purchase. You can buy in sets to save a few bucks—The Classic Set features two tins of olive oil (available in white, pink, yellow, blue, and green) and The Pantry Set (currently pre-order only) features a tin of olive oil and The ACV. They package orders in 100% recyclable materials, and if you order multiple items they'll ship together.
Another woman-owned operation, Brightland was founded by Aishwarya Iyer in 2018 after she spent 10 years in tech, venture capital, and startups. Iyer's mission with olive oil was simple: produce honest, high-quality olive oil from olives grown and harvested thoughtfully by California famers. Oh, and then branded and marketed like a beauty brand, featuring labels created by fashion designers and artists. In short, this the most aesthetic olive oil I've ever seen.
Brightland's olive oil comes in 375 ml (12.7 fl oz) glass bottles that are powder coated matte white with a UV protected powder coating, keeping the oil extra safe from pesky sun that could otherwise spoil it. A single bottle will cost either $37 or $40 before shipping, depending on which variety you select, and you can also buy in sets—I ordered the Brightland Duo ($74, so no savings here other than paying once for shipping).
However, you can save on sets when you subscribe; they'll deliver your set every one, two, or three months and you'll save $9 on each order. The Brightland Duo features the Awake and Alive olive oils, the former of which is herbaceous and complex, while the latter is bright and, well, lively.
Brightland regularly releases fun collaborations and limited edition flavors, like the garlic-forward Rosette, made by blending garlic with heirloom Frantoio olives. We tried this flavor and can confirm this definitely tastes like garlic, but it's not too overpowering and would be great with a rustic loaf of bread, roasted potatoes, or grilled steak.
The Brightland website is easy to navigate and the products are shipped in a branded box so you get the full Brightland experience, much like Glossier or other trendy beauty brands. My favorite Brightland product, besides the beautiful and tasty olive oils, is this super handy $9 pour spout—it may seem silly, but being able to easily pour olive oil is a total game changer.
Fat Gold was founded in Oakland, California in 2017 by Kathryn Tomajan (also partially responsible for Pineapple Collaborative's The Olive Oil) and Robin Sloan. Tomajan is a professional olive miller with a master’s degree in food culture from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, while her partner Sloan is a published author and truck driver during harvest time. The founders' mission is "to de-commodify extra virgin olive oil and elevate its place in American food culture."
First and foremost, Fat Gold is an olive oil subscription, but you can also order individual tins while supplies last (these are currently sold out but the 2020 harvest will be available in February). As a subscriber you get four of their 500 ml tins, each one a unique olive oil, sent in March, June, September, and December for $179 per year. This price includes shipping and, my favorite non-edible Fat Gold product, the charming and informative Fat Gold Zine!
When available, individual 500 ml tins cost $30 plus $9 shipping per order, and they ship anywhere in the U.S. The flavor profile of Fat Gold's olive oil varies by harvest and blend—I tasted the 2019 harvest of their flagship blend. It was bold, peppery, and perfect for pouring over a mound of creamy burrata or garnishing homemade soup.
The Fat Gold website is slightly less user-friendly than the other two brands, taking more of a no-frills approach to branding and marketing. But what they lack in design, they make up for in words and information; the introductory copy of Fat Gold Zine included with every first order is packed with storage tips, recipe ideas, and a bit of extra virgin olive oil 101.
Is expensive olive oil worth it?
In this case, absolutely. I can't speak for every bottle or tin of expensive olive oil you might find on the internet or grocery store shelves, but these brands are making some really special, thoughtful products that taste great and support good causes. If you're an adventurous home cook looking to elevate your dishes, or perhaps you'd like to give a food-related gift for an upcoming holiday, any of the offerings from Pineapple Collaborative, Brightland, or Fat Gold could be a good option for you.
In terms of price, none of these brands are selling olive oil for that much above the market price of commercially-grown quality olive oil (that $15 to $30 range I mentioned above). And what's more, these companies deliver the olive oil right to your door, so there's an added factor of convenience that might sound applying if you're trying to cutback on grocery trips.
I'll admit, expensive olive oil is a luxury and not a necessity. However, I believe supporting small, U.S. farmers is a necessity if we want our local food systems to flourish, especially given the impact of the pandemic. And since you can't exactly stop by your local farmers' market just yet, perhaps you should consider ordering some olive oil from any of these three makers.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.