Frequent Asked Question About Olive Oil
The following is an effort to answers some of
the most frequently asked question about Olive Oil. Your feedback, suggestions,
and corrections are welcome.
oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the olive fruit. It is the only
commercially edible oil that is obtained by squeezing the olives without further
processing or heat. Seed oils are extracted from various
types of seeds with solvents and goes through a series of chemical and heat
processes that destroys the good nutrients coming from the seeds. Some seeds oil
are extracted mechanically using the expeller method. This process alters the oil
because seeds are heated up. This kind of seeds oil is usually offered at quite a price
frauds are common.
Olive oil is squeezed or pressed from the olive fruit at the oil
mill with the use of an olive press. In Italy, the oil mills are called “frantoio.”
The steps in the production of olive oil can be briefly summarized as follows:
Harvesting, crushing/pressing and separation.
When and how each
variety of olive is harvested are big factors in determining the flavor of its
oil. Olives ripen in the fall and winter during which time most varieties
change color from green to purple/black. The oil they produce changes too
according to the ripeness of the olive. Early-harvest olives (October/November)
produce richer, fruitier oil, often with a peppery finish and dark green color.
Olives picked later in the season produce mild oil with little variety in
character but usually with a higher yield than early-harvest olives. Because
the believe that dark oil is better, some dishonest producers mix leaves in with
late-harvest olives in an effort to produce oils with the darker green color
associated with more valuable, early-harvest oils.
Each region has
its own traditional and preferred method of how the olives are harvested. If the
tree is relatively small, the olives can be picked by hands. If the fruit cannot
be reached by hand then the branches are beaten with sticks and the olives fall
to the ground. At one time most of the oil produced was from olives picked up
from the ground but these olives tended to produce the lowest quality of oil.
Today, however, olives knocked down from the trees are collected on nets before
they touch the ground. All of the olives used in producing our company’s oil are
fresh olives collected by hands or on nets and most of time processed the same
Crushing / Pressing
At the mill olives
are washed and crushed into a mash, called ‘olive pasta’. Traditional the olives
are ground up using a stone wheel called a ‘pietra’ but in recent years,
the new mills make use of a mechanical grinder which is much more compact and
easer to maintain. The 'pietra' method is slower but gentler but is more
difficult to keep clean and takes up a lot of space. The mechanical grinder is
cleaner, but tends to pulverize the olives and if not properly design may
increase the temperature of the 'pasta'. After crushing, the ‘pasta’ is
then put into a mixer where it is stirred gently to allow the oil molecules to
come together into large droplets. In the newer mills this mixer is
called a malaxator. Then is pressed with a hydraulic press or centrifuge that
separate liquid from solids.
From the press
comes out of a liquid mix of oil, water, and suspended solids. The water and
solids separate spontaneously by gravity (decantation) if left alone for few
days and it was the natural method of separation used until the middle of 20th
century. Today the process is accelerated with the use of centrifuges. The oil
extracted with a centrifuge is of better quality because of the higher grade of
separation and lessens exposure of the oil with air. The oil is then stored in
large container until ready for bottling. If left in the tank for several months
will produce a small residue made of water and solids not complete separated by
These definitions are establish
by law and each type meets certain parameters.
Extra Virgin Olive
Oil is the highest quality.
Extra virgin and virgin olive oils are obtained solely
by mechanical means and without heat that will lead to alterations in the
oil. The difference between these are in the acidity levels; extra virgin olive
oils have lower acidity than virgin olive oils.
Olive oil is the oil consisting
of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils.
Refined olive oil is the olive
oil obtained from bud (Lampante) virgin olive oils by refining methods.
Lampante virgin olive oil is
virgin olive that is no longer good for human consumption. It is intended for
refining or for technical use.
Olive-pomace oil is the oil obtained from olive pomace with solvents or
other physical treatments. Olive pomace is the mass of crushed olives.
Olive pomace is the solid part left after first press. It is marketed in accordance with the following
designations and definitions:
Crude olive-pomace Oil It is intended for refining for use for human
consumption, or for technical use.
Refined olive pomace oil is the oil obtained from crude olive pomace oil
by refining methods.
The term "Cold pressed" or “First press” is
an ancient term used when olives were pressed by manpower. After the “first
press” a substantial amount of oil still remained in the pasta. The pasta was
then warmed up with hot water and pressed again. Naturally, the first pressed
oil was of a higher quality.
Today, in the European Union, the olive oil
market is highly regulated by the European, state and local laws.
Regulation 1019 of 2002 determines the use of the term "Cold Pressed" in
the EU. During Malaxation and Extraction the olive pasta must be kept under 27ºC
(80ºF). The Italian regulation does not allow the use of the term if the
temperature in not recorded continuously. Each label must be approved by the authority before use and record
are submitted with the
application. However, companies that were using the term before the enforcement of
the law are allowed to continue using it.
Our oil is only cold pressed (Olives are
harvested in the winter when it is cold)
First press is no
longer an official definition for olive oil. In the past, the pasta was pressed
with low pressure mechanical means. After the first press the pasta was
reprocessed and pressed again so the term First Press and Second Press. Today the vast
majority of oil is made in continuous centrifugal presses. There is no second
What does Unblended and Unfiltered mean?
and blending are two separate issues
is done for two reasons: The first is for obtain a
consistent product that’s always tastes the same and that satisfies the taste of
the majority of their customers; and the second is to overcome defects of
brands of olive oil are blended from oil from many different varieties, regions,
and even countries. Blending some oils that are high in polyphenols
(antioxidants) with ones with low polyphenols will increase its shelf life.
Illegal blending of cheaper seed oils, such as hazelnut oil, can be profitable
for the unscrupulous and can be difficult to detect.
oils come from the same type of olive and are not mixed in with any other type
of olive oil or seed oil. We choose to bring in unblended oils because we think
that they have uncompromising taste and are the healthiest choice for our
customers to use.
unfiltered Olive Oil
After separation and before bottling the olive oil still
contains small amounts of water and solids (olive flesh) that give it a little
darker color. After time, the water and solids tend to separate from the oil
forming a small residual at the bottom of the bottle. Although this is not very
nice to see Olive Oil Enthusiast claim adds
additional flavor to the oil although it could also be an indication that the
oil has been on the shelf for long time.
However this depends on when the oil
was bottled because if the oil was bottled soon after it had been extracted at
the mill, it will form a residual quite quickly; while if the oil was left to
decant in a large tank for several months it will takes year before you can sea
a sedimentation on the bottom of the bottle. Anyway, olive oil really does not
need to be filtered to be good but remember unfiltered oil has a little more
flavor than filtered one.
Commercial oils are filtered as well as blended because of the
need the large supplier have to maintain consistence and to remove any thing
that may represent a flaw in their product.
color of the oil is not an indication of its quality or taste, and is considered
only for its as aesthetic value. Professional olive oil tasters use small blue
goblet-shaped glasses to ensure that their judging is on taste alone and not
Olive oil is a natural product and it's characteristics depends of many factors
like: variety, climate, time of harvest, grade of maturation, and particular
year. The color is mostly due to chlorophyll. Early harvested olives are still
green and the oil is darker and greenish. Mature black olives produce a lighter
and golden color oil but it has a less fruity taste and aroma. Because of this
believe that darker is better, some farmer leave on purpose leafs with their
olives. Although, chlorophyll does not have any adverse effect on our bodies, it
will reduce the antioxidant properties of the olive oil especially if exposed to
Olive oil is
regularly used as a flavorful condiment oil drizzled over pastas, vegetables,
seafood and grilled foods. It is also used as a healthy substitute for other
fats such as butter, lard, and other types of oil in regular cooking and baking
but it is the extra virgin olive oil that gives your food the most flavor.
Olive oil is widely acclaimed to help lower our bad cholesterol and increase
and maintain our good cholesterol.
High quality extra
virgin olive oil is extremely good for adding extra flavor to cooked dishes
after removing them from the direct heat of your stove or oven. This way they
retain their essence and their flavor does not get burned off.
What do I look for when choosing a quality olive
"The taste of a dish for
which you need olive oil will be as good or as ordinary as the oil you use. A
sublime one can lift even modest ingredients to eminent heights of flavor; a
dreary oil will pull the best ingredients down to its own level. Partial clues
to the quality of the olive oil you are buying are supplied by the label and
price, but ultimately, the only way to determine which one, among those
available, is right for you is to taste and compare." (From the cookbook
“MARCELLA CICINA” by Marcella Hazan).
So you choose the
oil you like most but stay away from bargain cheap oils.
the best way to store olive oil?
Buying oil in small sizes is a practical way to
buy expensive oils. Oil shall be stored in cool dark area preferably in a can or
a dark-colored bottle.
Tinted glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are
the best materials for containers; oil should never be stored in plastic or in
reactive metals. Stay away from plastic containers as the oil can absorb PVCs.
Air, heat, and light will cause olive oil to
turn rancid (rancid is the flavor which is imparted in an oil after it has
undergone the process of oxidation.
Oil can be safely store at room temperature for
some time but for best preservation the oil shall be keep cool at temperature
between 12°C and 15°C (54 °F-59°F). If you have a wine cellar, store your olive oils there and keep
a small amount in your kitchen. Always replace the cap on the bottle. Do not put
olive oil in a container without a cap.
Do not freeze the oil. Freezing will destroy
the good nutrient and will increase the peroxides.
Olives are fruit and are grown on trees. There are about
four thousand different varieties of olive tree. More than 700 are
cultivated and about 500 varieties of those can be find in Italy.
The olive tree is
propagated from cuttings, rather than grown from seed.
Depending on the variety, the terrain, and the intended method of farming, the
trees are planted to a density of between 50 and 300 trees per acres.
The trees will begin to bear fruit typically
after four years in the ground, but will not reach full production for 12 to 15
years. At full production, they will produce between 2 and 6 tons of fruit per
acre, depending on the varieties, the growing conditions, and the luck of the
Olive trees grow
best where they have mild winters and hot summers, so it’s no surprise they show
up in Mediterranean cultures. Spain, Greece, Italy, France and Morocco; each
have contributed their own specialty. In the United States, California has the
What do the terms
organic and flavored oils mean?
is a fashion word today and usually has noting to do with a quality product
and nowhere is that more the case than with olive oil. In some case
"Organic" is only on the label it mean that the farmer has done the right
paperwork but he does not practice.
In most of the
world, olive trees are simply left alone: they are neither irrigated nor
fertilized. So this olive tree produce organic. Unfortunately, this isn't very
good for either the tree or the farmer. Often the oil produced from this tree do
not meet the minimum requirement for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil. So producing
organic extra virgin olive oil is not
In the other hand
olive tree the only fertilize require is nitrogen so most farmers who fertilize
use urea, a relatively inexpensive, commercially-produced nitrogen. Also some
farmers plant a nitrogen-fixing cover crop each year that puts both nitrogen and
organic material into the soil, which limits erosion,
and reduces the amount of urea need for
The people we know
in farming are deeply committed to the land. It's probably the main reason they
farm - they sure aren't in it for the money! They farm the land as thoughtfully
as possible, often choosing more expensive alternatives because it is better for
the environment or the crop. But for the reasons above, it is unusually
difficult - and often impossible - to produce truly organic olive oil.
are on the market many olive oils flavored with herbs, roasted garlic, sun-dried
tomatoes, and the like, which are increasingly popular but most of the time they
are made with a low-grade, refined olive oil, which if not as good for you as
the natural or non-refined extra virgin olive oils. But if you like flavored
oils, you can make it even better (as well as much less expensively) yourself by
using better-quality flavorings and good olive oil. (Just be careful with
garlic; you should always roast or blanch it first, in order to prevent