Updated: Jun 18
We all use it, we all love it, but did you know that olive oil has an ancient past? Lets just say it's been around for a few thousand years (roughly 6,000 BC) or so. The earliest records of its use that I've been able to find were surprisingly recorded in the Bible!
What's special about Lebanese Olive Oil?
For starters, Lebanon sits on one of the epicenters of ancient civilization, right at the farthest, inward point of the Mediterranean, and its climate for olive tree groves is perfect. Lebanon‘s ancient landscape offers beautiful crop growing conditions for olive tree groves in areas such as the Koura and Nahr el Kaleb Valleys and the Akkar Region.
A more recent accomplishment in 2017, however, is when Lebanon became a full member of the International Olive Council (OIC) which is the world's only international, intergovernmental organization in the field of olive oil and olives.
Here are a few facts about Lebanon's olive oil according to the OIC:
60% of Lebanon's olive trees are over 150 years old
There are over 200,000 olive orchards in Lebanon
Lebanon has over 500 olive mills throughout the country
What to Look For When Buying Lebanese Olive Oil
The different flavors between these Lebanese olive oil brands may range from buttery, peppery, fruity, nutty, woody, and other distinctions. Choosing a favorite olive oil is like choosing a fine wine, so allow your taste buds to delight in trying these various kinds until you find the one you love!
For a unique olive oil experience that will set your food pairings apart, here's my list of the top Lebanese olive oil brands that you can find online. However, if you prefer to plan a trip out to one of the many local Middle Eastern markets in Massachusetts, I've put together this list for your convenience.
There is also a frequently asked questions section at the end which covers questions from how to properly store olive oil to how long olive oil lasts, etc.
What are the Top Lebanese Olive Oil Brands Online?
In this article I list the four Lebanese olive oil products that you can find online (affiliate links). The brands include:
Said Saifan Olive Oil (Koura Valley)
Olive Harvest Olive Oil (Koura Region)
Massound Freres Olive Oil (Nahr el Kaleb Valley)
Zejd Olive Oil (Akkar Region)
I also hope that you enjoy reading the stories of each of the company's origins that's I provided below. With hard to find, specialty products such as theses, it can be nice to build a connection to a brand as it can bring more meaning to your purchase, especially when you know that you're supporting their love and passion towards the quality of their products.
Koura Valley, Lebanon | Since 1939
About: “The SAID SAIFAN Company has achieved notoriety in the world of olive oil, olive oil soap and table olives by providing customers with premium quality olive tree products.
The company was founded by Said Saifan in 1939 in a very small shop in Tripoli in the Northern part of Lebanon near the Mediterranean Sea. The sale of olive oil and the production of local traditional Middle Eastern olive oil soaps were the primary business staples in those early days.
In 1949, Said Saifan, fueled by his passion for the noble olive tree and a business steadily growing because of good quality products, substantial business integrity and a solid reputation, registered one of the first olive oil trademarks in Lebanon and the Middle East under the name of KOURA which would later be replaced by the brand SAIFAN.
Try These Saifan Olive Oil Varieties (affiliate links):
In 1959, Georges, the son of Said Saifan, began the very long journey of developing the Said Saifan Company toward what it is today by joining the company and carrying forward the values that his father established. Georges understood that the continuing growth of the company would rely on maintaining the values his father established: Excellent product quality, Business integrity, Reputation.
In 2000 the third generation of the Saifan family joined the management of the family business, with the same values and perseverance of its founders.
Our company has developed a very solid line of products distributed to our local markets and exported to many countries around the world. Our Products consist of our Olive Oils - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, Olive Oil, our Olive Oil Soaps - White Olive Oil Soap, Green Olive Oil Soap, Pure Olive Oil Soap, Laurel Olive Oil Soap, Perfumed Olive Oil Soap, and our Table Olives - Green and Black Olives with Pits in Brine. Currently, we are in the process of developing new additions to our existing product lines – a 100% Natural Liquid Olive Oil Soap, a Flavor-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Black Olives in Tapenade.
To achieve this extended production and this worldwide distribution, our facility is outfitted with the latest state of the art processing equipment for manufacturing and a top of the line in house laboratory for quality assurance.
For Saifan the manufacture of our products is not only a matter of conformity to norms, regulations and standards in our industry, it is a matter of delivering a product made with love, where premium quality ingredients and packaging are used.
For our company, selling our products is not just a business transaction. It’s about the lasting human relationship formed between two parties that share the same values and willingness to build a long-time business partnership based on quality, integrity and authenticity.”
Koura Region, Lebanon | Since 1959
ABOUT: “The Yacoub Maalouf family has been growing and milling olives in this region since 1959, producing some of the region’s most superior, naturally made olive oils.
In the year 2000, Chafic Maalouf, owner and general manager, imported a small batch of extra virgin olive oil from his family’s olive groves in Koura, North Lebanon. The unique olive oil was received with great excitement. In Massachusetts, Chafic established Olive Harvest to ensure a reliable connection between his family’s oil production in Lebanon and the growing market in New England. As an agricultural Engineer, a crop Scientist, and a passionate olive oil maker, Chafic devoted his experience and his talents into bringing the best quality olive oil into New England at very affordable prices.
Currently, the Yacoub Maalouf family operates a privately owned olive press and more than 35 acres of olive groves in the fertile Koura region of North Lebanon, with the added capability of buying olives and olive oil from neighboring growers.
Archaeological evidence reveals that the olive tree has been cultivated in the Koura region of North Lebanon for thousands of years. The Koura region is an elevated plateau situated 350 meters above sea level at the foot of the West Lebanon mountains that tower 3200 meters over the region below. This breath-taking location adjacent to the Mediterranean sea possesses lush soils of silt and clay that are naturally rich in potassium, calcium and minerals. This territory, coupled with our naturally grown cultivars, make our olive crop superior.”
Nahr el Kaleb Valley, Lebanon | Since 1997
ABOUT: “In 1997, the olive grove was purchased from a good Lebanese friend. It sits North of Beirut along the Valley of Nahr el Kaleb, and approximately 1600 feet above.
The ancient trees on the property were abandoned so our brother Paul cleaned, pruned, fed and picked the trees, and after three years of care, we brought them back into production. The first crop of oil was excellent, but only for our personal use. The following year, the olives produced enough oil to consider importing it to Texas.
Along with all the farmers in this area, we take our freshly hand picked olives to a nearby olive oil press to make the oil. When it’s “our turn” the olives are dumped in a bin where they travel through a centrifuge. Where the oil is separated from water and pulp and then filtered. The olive oil press also has a small bottling plant where the oil is bottled, sealed, labeled and shipped to us. Since we are farmers, pickers, pruners, packers, importers and marketers, we know this oil has been property grown, processed and handled.
This olive oil, which is a labor of love, was grown and produced with the help of some good Lebanese friends. It is completely free of chemicals, insecticides, preservatives or other (filler) oils from outside the region. In other words, it is 100% Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil grown and bottled in Lebanon. It is very rich in texture and flavor and is great for seasoning vegetables, salads, pasta dishes, excellent tabbouleh and dripping over hummus and babaghanoush.”
Akkar Region, Lebanon | Since 2012
ABOUT: “Zejd® produce derive from the Mediterranean Soury olive variety, named after Sour, a Phoenician trading port - Southern Lebanon. Cultivated in the groves of the Akkar region in Northern Lebanon, our olives produce a wide range of fruity extra virgin olive oils and exquisitely flavored oils.”
It’s easy to buy any common olive oil brand at your local supermarket, especially those that are on sale. However, if you’re looking for an olive oil that is of higher quality with abundant natural flavors, consider trying one of these top Lebanese brands.
Frequently Asked Questions About Olive Oil
What is cold-pressed olive oil?
Cold-pressed olive oil, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a producer's first extract of olive oil from the olive fruit. Cold-pressed olives are also "first pressed," which means that they were only pressed once and did not go through a secondary pressing process which can change the quality and flavor. This is considered the most pure version of olive oil.
Are the sediments at the bottom of my olive oil container normal?
When olive oil is pressed and unfiltered, the sediment that settles to the bottom is typical - it does not mean that the oil is old or rancid.
When does olive oil go bad?
The shelf life of olive oil can range from 18 months to 4 years. Although that's quite the range, use it within a year for best results.
How do I store olive oil?
Store it in a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Also, minimize the exposure to air as oxidation can occur and taint the flavors of the oil.
Where can I buy Lebanese olive oil?
Aside from purchasing the brands that we found online in this article, you can head over to one of your local Middle Eastern markets. You can browse for the closest Middle Eastern market here.
Do you have a favorite Lebanese olive oil? Let us know what you like and share your thoughts in the comments below! And don't forget to subscribe to stay updated with our latest articles and posts.