Every day we use it to exalt the flavour of what we cook, but do we really have a good knowledge of it?
It is our intention to promote and expand the heritage of “good mill oil”, to try to settle any doubts and to reveal interesting facts about the world of extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil is a fundamental and typical element of the Mediterranean diet, but with this term we define, in a generic way, all the oils deriving from the processing of olives. Actually, this word contains a range of different products, in terms of quality and characteristics; in fact, olive oil is not all the same and above all not all oils can be considered extra virgin.
The classification of the oils differentiates “virgin” oils, obtained by exclusive pressing, from “non-virgin” oils, which are rectified with a chemical process.
Community regulation, valid for all European oil producers, sets the classification parameters for every oil:
VIRGIN OLIVE OILS
They are oils obtained from olives by mechanical, in conditions that prevent any changes to the oil.
Based on their acidity, they can be divided in
1. Extra-virgin olive oil, with maximum free acidity of 0.8%
2. Virgin olive oil, with maximum free acidity of 2%
3. Lampante olive oil, with free acidity above 2%, which requires a refining process before it can be consumed
REFINED OLIVE OIL
Olive oil obtained by refining – through deacidification, bleaching and deodorization – of lampante virgin olive oil.
refined or rectified oil is odorless, colorless and tasteless, with no beneficial substances such as polyphenol. Retail sales are not permitted.
Olive Oil obtained by blending of Refined Olive Oil and Extra Virgin or Virgin olive Oil.
REFINED OLIVE POMACE OIL
Obtained by refining Crude Oil Pomace Oil, which is extracted by means of a solvent from the olive pomace (nuts and pulp of olives not crushed)
OLIVE POMACE OIL
Obtained by blending refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil
Tasting plays an important role in the evaluation of Extra Virgin Olive oil. Savouring an oil means discovering its characteristics, experiencing its freshness, the clear-cut taste of the olive, the consistency or the tactile sensation, the absence of defects.
How does the consumer recognise a good olive oil? To begin with, he or she should be wary of low cost products, because producing quality oil is a serious and costly matter.
In any event, tasting the oil is essential; the aroma and flavour should immediately arouse a sensation of freshness and fragrance and recall the fruit from which the oil comes. The many possible flavour sensations range throughout the plant world, with more or less accentuated undertones toward bitter and pungent (which should never be considered defects).
The bitter or pungent sensation of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is often confused with acidity, instead means that the oil has been made from healthy fruit at the proper stage of ripeness and therefore gives a more or less intense sensation, produced by the aromas, called “fruitiness”, that is, the clear-cut flavour of olives that diminishes and disappears on swallowing and which is generally one of the positive elements of the oil.
Very often this sensation is interpreted as a negative element, but this is merely the legacy of industrial olive oil production which prefers to create a “standardised” taste acceptable to all, unvarying from year to year and suited for an international market, to the detriment of the typical character of the product.
This is why we invite you to rediscover tradition and authenticity in your choice of the product!!
To obtain the best results in tasting it is nevertheless important to observe certain rules:
The tasting process can be divided into two phases:
The first thing you will notice is a fragrance of the oil that we call “Fruity”. This aroma, or rather set of scented sensations, depends on the variety of olives composing the oil and is developed during the process of extracting the oil from the olives. It is evaluated both for intensity (ex. light – medium – intense) and for the aromatic notes expressed and which we can decode (ex. herbaceous – ripe – almond – artichoke – etc..)
Particular attention should be paid in this analysis because one could also perceive unpleasant odours that indicate the presence of what are considered oil “defects”. These defects can have various causes and their presence disqualifies oils for commercial purposes.
The combination of olfactory and taste perceptions allow us to evaluate the overall harmoniousness of the sensations experienced and allow us to express a final judgement of the product.
By “sticking your nose in the oil” you will discover a new world of fragrance and flavour, often unimaginable!
Fruity: flavour that calls to mind the aroma and taste of healthy, fresh fruit gathered at the best stage of ripeness. It can be “green” or “ripe”.
Green: flavour calls to mind the aroma and taste of healthy, fresh fruit gathered at the best stage of ripeness. This is the stabilised set of the most valued essences. Only when these essences remain stabilised over time, totally and lastingly, can an oil be called fruity. The difficulty lies in distinguishing a simple “fresh” oil from a “fruity” one. Newly produced oils, in fact, always have a “freshness” that borders ion “fruitiness”, but which only lasts the interval of a morning. Fruitiness is a noteworthy quality.
Ripe: flavour of olive oil obtained from mature fruit generally with a mild odour and sweetish taste.
Bitter: flavour characteristic of oil obtained from green or unripe olives. This can be of various intensity. This is perceived at the back of the palate.
Peppery: tactile pungent sensation that disappears a few moments after swallowing. Characteristic of oils produced at the beginning of the harvest, principally from still-green olives. Its presence is a sure indicator of the integrity and health of the fruit.
Sweet: this is attributed to oils with a not very marked flavour and without too much fragrance in which the attributes of bitterness, astringency and pungency do not emerge. Sweet to the palate, it does not present particular olfactory sensations; it is nearly always gold in colour with a dense consistency.
Artichoke: flavour reminiscent of the taste of tender raw artichokes. Although “artichoke” is not considered among the classical qualities, it is sought-after.
Apple: flavour of olive oil that calls to mind this fruit.
Herbaceous: particular nuance of fruity that recalls the odour of freshly-cut grass.
Leaf: characteristic flavour that calls to mind the slightly bitter fragrance of leaves.
Almond: this flavour can be that of fresh almonds or of healthy, dried almonds. It is perceived as an aftertaste when the oil remains in contact with the tongue and the palate.
Floral: very pleasurable sensation that recalls the penetrating perfume of flowers
Tomato: fragrance that recalls the fruit of the same name, typical of oils of certain origins (ex. Sicily)
Rotund: typical oil derived from ripe olives, mellow-bodied, golden in colour, very graceful, without excessive aromatic peaks. Barely perceivable from an olfactory point of view, but revealing fullness, pleasantness and is completely satisfying to the palate.
Harmonious: when aroma, taste and tactile sensation are in perfect balance.
Burnt/Heated (taste and smell): characteristic of oil from accumulated olives that have reached an advanced stage of fermentation. On an olfactory examination, one can perceive a slight sour odour which is confirmed on tasting.
Rancid (taste and smell): common to all oils and fats that oxidate, because of prolonged contact with the air. This flavour is unpleasant and irreversible.
Musty: characteristic of oil from fruit in which abundant fungus or yeast has developed because of stockpiling for many days in a damp environment. Inhibits salivation.
Dreggish (taste and smell): typical of oil left at length in contact with the impurities which should be removed by decanting.
Vinegary – Winey – flavour characteristic of certain oils that recall that of wine or vinegar. This is fundamentally due to the formation of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethanol, in higher than normal quantities, in the aroma of olive oil.
Metallic – characteristic of oils that have had prolonged contact with reactive metal surfaces either during processing or storage.
Hay: characteristic of certain oils that recalls dry grass.
Dry – wood: flavour characteristic of oil obtained though an excessively long milling of olives with little pulp.
Earthy: odour typical of oil obtained from olives gathered from the ground; recalls the odour of air in the first moments of a rain shower.
Cucumber: flavour of oil hermetically closed for too long a period, especially in tins.
Vegetable water: acquired characteristic of the oil caused by poor decanting e prolonged contract with the water content of the olives after processing.
Cotto: è dovuto a un eccessivo e/o prolungato riscaldamento durante l’ottenimento, specialmente durante la termo-impastatura, se avviene in condizioni inadatte.
Grubby: produced by pressing olives damaged by the olive fly.
Rough: characteristic of oils that produce a pasty, thick, greasy feeling in the mouth.
Fiscolo: hemp-like flavour of oil obtained from olives pressed in improperly cleaned coconut fibre mats or fiscolo, occasionally used in older mills
Frozen/Wet Wood: sweet, dry, and atypical aroma/flavour derived from olives which have been exposed to freezing temperatures. Nothing particular can be perceived to the sense of smell: the aftertaste is very close to dry, but the opening and body especially have, when the oil has just been produced, an unpleasant flat, bland taste. This flat taste diminishes with time, but is replaced by a persistent and very pronounced dryness.
Brine:salty taste indicating that oil was made from brined olives.
Extra virgin olive oil requires the same attention in its conservation as in its production. If properly stored it can last at length, maintaining its chemical and organoleptic characteristics unaltered.
Its principal enemies are:
Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy and genuine food, because obtained directly from a fruit (and not a seed) and produced naturally, without the use of chemical additives. It is the prince of the Mediterranean diet, a dietary style appreciated world-wide because it combines good taste and healthiness. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in fat, the most important source of energy for our organism.
Fats have the following biological functions in our organism:
The fats in olive oil are triglycerides of fatty acids..These compounds form as linear chains of carbon atoms, always with an even number from C4 to C22.
Our organism is not able to autonomously synthesise linoleic acid (highly important from a nutritional profile), therefore it must be absorbed through food. The quantity of this acid consumed should not exceed 10-15%, since the excess is immediately eliminated from the human organism. The content of linoleic acid in extra virgin olive oil is, on an average, 10%, an excellent ratio that makes this oil particularly suited for human consumption.
Another feature of extra virgin olive oil is the scarce content of polyunsaturated fats, which combined with the presence of natural antioxidants makes it particularly resistant to high temperatures. The double bonds present in the oil molecule, if exposed to energy (heat ), are more easily broken and recombined with other elements.
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in the following important substances:
Its cholesterol content is, instead, extremely low and, among high fat-content products, it is without doubt the food product that presents the lowest rate. Its acidity component allows excellent assimilation in the digestive tract. The level of oleic acid of extra virgin olive oil fluctuates between 70 and 80 %, arriving at peaks of 85 %.
Thanks to the presence of monounsaturated fats and its vitamin and antioxidant content, extra virgin olive oil has beneficial effects on our health and prevents many diseases. In particular:
It reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL)and increases those of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
Extra virgin olive oil contributes to reducing an excess in cholesterol by not generating “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and instead fostering the creation of “good” cholesterol (HDL). Good cholesterol guarantees the integrity of our arteries, cleans out any arteriosclerotic plaque from them as well as any LDL, by keeping these substances from adhering to the walls of the arteries and obstructing them.
Prevents heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases
In therapies aimed at preventing myocardial infarction one must replace animal fats in one’s diet with extra virgin olive oil which ensures not only a high contribution of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid), but also the minimum amounts of polyunsaturated fats that today are calculated at between 2-4% of total calorie consumption.
Thanks to its low content of polyunsaturated fats in favour of monounsaturated ones; the former, in fact, are subject to peroxidation and the formation of free radicals that are highly toxic for the organism, predisposing it to ageing. Regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil may be one of the reasons Italy can claim such a high number of healthy elderly people, one of the highest percentages in the world. In fact, the rational use in one’s daily diet of extra virgin olive oil is expected to bring us to the absolute first position for longevity in 2015.
During pregnancy it is a good idea to add two spoonfuls of olive oil a day to one’s diet. The fatty acids contained in oil contribute to the formation of the cells of the fetal nervous system. Used raw, oil reduces any constipation issues that can bother the mother-to-be.
For early childhood oil is an ideal food, even for infants. It is a highly digestible product that is extremely important in bone formation and brain development thanks to its perfectly balanced fatty acid content. For this reason even in the preparation of baby’s first solid foods beginning in the 4th – 5th month, pureed foods can be flavoured with extra virgin olive oil.
For adults Because of olive oil’s ability to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase the HDL percentage of total cholesterol, to reduce glycaemia, limit the effects of cellular ageing and prevent cardiovascular illnesses and some forms of tumours, this product is certainly suited for all adults and the elderly.
For the elderly In this phase of life when there can be a lack of appetite, a reduction in digestive capability, a decrease in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and constipation, olive oil is the ideal fat: it is highly digestible, blandly laxative, rich in essential fatty acids, and also facilitates the absorption of vitamins.
It is very useful for those who practice sports since it guarantees the supply of nutritive substances typical of a natural product and, at the same time, reduces digestion time. It stimulates the secretion of substances that reduce gastric acidity, boosts gall-bladder activity and the digestion of fats on an intestinal level.