How to find the perfect Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I have been producing extra virgin olive oil for friends and family for circa 15 years now. The time I’ve spent in the industry, the more I realise just how much confusion exists around this impressive condiment. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) in fact is NOT Olive Oil. Confused? Let me help clarify. Would you compare a Rolls Royce Phantom to a Vauxhall Corsa? No. Well, EVOO is your Rolls Royce. Manufacturing, processing, performance, history and heritage are all critical to the quality of an Extra Virgin. While Olive Oil can be obtained using chemicals, filtering, mixing of different products from different regions/countries, the Extra Virgin abides by strict protocol. EVOO is simply the healthiest fat on earth, full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. To obtain this healthy nectar we need to harvest our secular trees without stressing the plants, transform the olives within 24 hours from the harvest to avoid oxidation, and use solely mechanical procedures (washing, crushing, malaxing, separating) to obtain a product exactly as nature intended it. Now enough technical talk. How can you, as a consumer, find a high-quality EVOO.
Here are my 4 simple rules:
- Read the fine print: make sure the product is clearly marked as Extra Virgin Olive Oil and pay attention to the on the harvest year. It shouldn’t be older than one, why? Unlike wine, the positive attributes of olive oil tend to deteriorate over time.
- Trust your senses: as an olive oil producer and passionate sommelier, I have learned that basic smell and taste are the most important assets when it comes to understanding good food. Teach yourself how to smell and recognise the typical flavours and aromas of a nice extra virgin olive oil. You’re looking for fruity sensations: citrus, chamomile flowers, artichokes, red and green tomatoes, fresh herbs, almonds to name a few.
- Attention to detail: focus on positive attributes such as pungency (strong peppery sensation) and bitterness
- Practice is perfection: Train yourself by trying different extra virgin olive oils, matching them with your gourmet creations to enhance their taste.
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