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How to choose extra virgin olive oil

What is the one food that is never missing on every single pizza we bake? Well easy, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

WRITTEN by

 Rudy 

of

 19 November

Have you ever wondered how to choose a great extra virgin olive oil?

Yet it is the food that is never missing from our pantries, which we use every single day and cannot do without to prepare our everyday dishes and sumptuous Sunday lunches.

Is our beloved Extra Virgin Olive Oil, ever-present on our pizzas of which every region boasts of producing the finest really that important in the kitchen?
I would say it is not only important, it is essential, and to do without it could be considered a criminal act.

 

How it is produced

I don’t want to bore you by describing the many methods of harvesting, pressing, and processing olives to produce oil, but it is only fair to give you some basics.

 

Olives

 

Preparation

After harvest, the olives are weighed, divided into groups and washed while waiting for the actual extraction stage.

Regardless of the quality and cultivar chosen, this is an extremely delicate stage and must be carried out as quickly as possible and under the best conditions (humidity and temperature) to preserve the fruit and prevent spoilage.

 

The milling

The next stage is the
milling
, the olives are literally “crushed” and crushed, obtaining an emulsion composed of skin pulp and stone parts and a liquid part containing oil and water.

This is an extremely delicate phase.

For small-scale production of quality extra virgin olive oil, the
muller
or stone mill. The slow action of this process makes it possible to obtain an emulsion with greater “separation” between water and oil and consequently suitable for the production of oil with very high quality, on the other hand, the extreme slowness of the process can create a certain oxidation of the product with a lower concentration of polyphenols if not performed properly.

For industrial production, on the other hand, the crusher is preferred, which is faster and more manageable than stone milling.

 

Gramoling

Now the next step is to separate the water from the rest of the compound, this process is called
Gramoling
.

You may have heard of
cold extraction
, which occurs within 27°C and
hot extraction
where it is possible to go as high as 30°C, let’s understand together what these are.

The cold method is applicable only if milling is done with a muller, due to the greater initial separation of water and oil in the emulsion, and the containment of temperatures during the process allows for the highest quality products.

For higher emulsion oil pastes, it will be necessary instead to use the method of hot extraction with higher temperatures that will inevitably compromise the final quality of the product. The higher the temperature at which the kneading will take place, the worse the quality of the extracted evo oil will be, which will suffer a deterioration in taste and a lowering of the concentration of polyphenols and vitamin A.

 

choose extra virgin olive oil frantoio

 

Must extraction and water separation

After all these steps (yes I know I promised not to dilate) we got a mush composed of
pomace
(pulp, husks, crushed stones) and oil must which are to be separated either by literally squeezing the mixture with special presses or by centrifuging it as we do at home with vegetables.
The resulting liquid is almost our coveted oil; it will just need to be further centrifuged to remove the last remnants of water.

 

Properties and benefits

EVO oil is a fat so it is bad for you and fattening. I have heard this a thousand times, and to such a statement I always prefer to ignore and not respond.
But let’s do a quick analysis. An extra virgin olive oil is 99.9 percent fat; think of the much-feared butter having only (so to speak) about 80 percent.

 

But then where is the trick? Why do we recommend the use of olive oil in a balanced diet and try to avoid butter? Simple, fats are not all the same and each has a role, positive or negative for our body.

 

A good EVO oil contains about 73 percent monounsaturated fatty acids (what are called good fats) and only 13 percent saturated fats (butter exceeds 50 percent), to wit, the ones responsible for raising blood cholesterol levels and directly linked to problems such as artery occlusion, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction.

 

In addition, we should not overlook its important concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Omega-9, which are responsible for reducing blood cholesterol levels and can prevent cardiovascular disease, and its content of phenolic antioxidants, natural anti-inflammatory agents.

 

Among vegetable oils, extra virgin is probably the one with the best balance of fatty acids and is the ONLY one that is produced
exclusively by pressing olives
, without the help of chemical solvents or other industrial interventions, as is the case with other vegetable oils.

 

how to choose extra virgin oil

 

Differences between oils

Does Olive oil have the same properties as extra virgin olive oil?Let’s assume that olive oil is not olive oil and see in detail what types of oils can be obtained from olives:

 

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil (or EVO oil) is the purest and most natural product that can be obtained by pressing olives. Extra virgin is defined as when:

  • Is obtained directly from olives and only by mechanical processes,
  • its chemical and physical analyses meet a long series of parameters required by EU regulations, for example, acidity, which must be less than 0.8 percent
  • Its organoleptic analysis, carried out by a panel of 8 or 12 tasters to minimize errors gathered in a Panel Test, must detect the absence of defects concerning
    olfaction
    e
    taste
    , color, on the other hand, is considered insignificant.

 

Virgin olive oil

When an extra virgin oil has tasting defects and its chemical parameters are not satisfactory, it cannot be classified as extra virgin oil and vie cataloged as virgin. Virgin olive oil is defined as a product with barely perceptible defects, but whose acidity must not exceed 2 percent.

 

choose bottled extra virgin oil

 

Lampante virgin olive oil

Like virgin and extra virgin oil, it is obtained through mechanical pressing. But unlike the latter it has organoleptic defects and high acidity; its acidity index is more than 2 percent and it is inedible.

 

Rectified olive oil

Lampante oil can be made into refined or rectified oil losing almost completely its fragrance and flavor and can be used in frying.

 

Olive oil

It is a mixture of refined oils, that is, obtained by exposure to chemical agents, and virgin olive oils. However, the acidity of the resulting mixture must not exceed l’1%.

 

Sansa Oil

It is made from the residue of pressing and is extracted through chemical solvents. It is not edible but can become edible with the addition of a certain amount of virgin oil.

 

Best extra virgin olive oil

Evaluating an Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not an easy task at all, experience, sense of taste and smell are needed, but it is possible to follow some guidelines to be able to appreciate its merits and flaws.

 

Pressing Olives choose extra virgin olive oil

 

Tasting

The test to which you will subject the oil you want to test is based almost exclusively on olfactory and gustatory analysis. We often have the bad habit of judging an oil also by its color, but this is not a reliable indicator of the quality of the product unless it has tones that turn toward orange, accurate oxidation indicator.

What you will need is a small tasting glass. Purists use special blue tulip cups about 6 cm high, a 7 cm belly and a 5 cm mouth, but we will be fine with the classic white disposable cup so as to avert visual bias. In short, this oil is not for you to look at.

 

Olfactory test

Pour 15 ml of extra virgin olive oil into the glass, the equivalent of a soup spoon, and hold it in your hands for a few minutes. The oil at about 26 to 30°C releases the maximum of its identifying aromas; you only need to swirl it gently, bring your nose close and inhale slowly and intensely.

What you will need to perceive at this stage is the “fruitiness.” It should remind you of the pleasant scent of a freshly picked fruit at the right stage of ripeness. The notes of the type of fruit you perceive will be determined by the type and area of the cultivar and the degree of ripeness of the olives. These olfactory notes may recall the scents of artichoke, tomato, field grass, almond, apple or berries.

 

Taste test

More difficult to explain than to replicate. Take a small sip of oil, the equivalent of half a teaspoon, from your faithful little glass, trying to distribute it perfectly throughout the oral cavity so that all the receptors are fully involved, in this way you will be able to fully perceive the taste parameter (bitterness) and the kinesthetic parameter (spiciness) distinctive features of an excellent product and from the concentration of polyphenols.

But that’s not the end of it, you must now proceed with the
stripping
i.e., a series of short and repeated aspirations through the mouth operation that will allow you to perceive the gustatory and kinesthetic parameters even in the volatile components by forced retronasal passage (exhalation). To best appreciate the kinesthetic sensation of spiciness, the oil should be swallowed.

Taste test

Below I offer a small summary table of the merits and demerits that you may find during the tasting, kindly provided by Olio Guglielmi.

 

guide: choosing extra virgin oil

 

Extra virgin olive oil –
FAVORS

Bitter
Characteristic flavor of oil obtained from green or slightly pitted olives. It can have different intensities but must still always be combined with the spicy sensation, otherwise it becomes an unbalancing element.

Vegetable
It is the attribute found in an oil that is reminiscent of a vegetable or aromatic plant (artichoke, tomato, sage, mint, etc…).

Floral
Characteristic attribute of particularly aromatic oils reminiscent of the scent of flowers.

Almond
Sensation of sweet or bitter almond usually combined with the sensation of sweet, although often found in the aftertaste.

Apple
It is the scent of olive oil that is reminiscent of this fruit, whether ripe or green.

Grass
Sensation reminiscent of freshly cut grass.

Leaf
Aroma reminiscent of the bitter and somewhat astringent taste of fresh leaf.

Sweet
Sensation found in an oil with a pleasant flavor, little aroma and in which the attributes of “bitter” and “spicy” do not excel.

Spicy
It is a sensation that is felt as an aftertaste and greatly personalizes the flavor of the oil and is considered to be an element of considerable value to the product.

Harmony
It is the term that defines the perfect balance between the smell and taste components of the oil.

Round
A term used to indicate an oil with a mellow body, very graceful, without excessive aromatic peaks.

Tomato
Typical olfactory sensation of tomato leaf.

 

Extra virgin olive oil –
DEFECTS

Rancid
Due to oxidation by air. Rancid oil has a smell reminiscent of nutty, yellowed ham fat to varnish-plastic and is very common in old or poorly stored oils.

Warned
Flavor reminiscent of vinegar or wine. Defect mainly due to an aerobic fermentation process found in cases where olives of poor quality are processed (because they are overripe and/or damaged) or have waited too long before being processed.

Sludge
Smell reminiscent of brine . This is a storage defect typical of an oil that has been in contact for a long time with the sludge that settles at the bottom of the container.

Mold
Flavor reminiscent of mold. Typical of oil obtained from fruit that has been left heaped for several days and in which abundant fungi and yeasts have developed; evident in the last part of the oral cavity.

Heating
Flavor of oil obtained from heaped olives that have suffered an advanced degree of fermentation and reminiscent of that of cheeses.

Metallic
Flavor reminiscent of metal, characteristic of oil kept in long contact with metal surfaces during milling, graming, pressing or storage.

 

Extra virgin olive oil –
NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES


Cooked or Overcooked.


Characteristic oil flavor due to excessive or prolonged heating during extraction, especially at the thermo-mixing stage.


Hay or Wood

Flavor characteristic of oil from dry olives that have experienced prolonged dry conditions.

Gross
Thick and pasty tactile/oral sensation due to old oils.


Lubricant

Flavor reminiscent of diesel, grease or mineral oil.


Brine

Flavor of oils extracted from olives preserved in brine.

Department
Flavor characteristic of oil obtained from olives passed through fiscoli (filtering discs of presses) that are new to esparto.


Earth

Flavor characteristic of oil obtained from olives soiled with soil, muddy and unwashed.

Worm
Flavor characteristic of oil obtained from olives heavily affected by olive fly larvae.

Cucumber
Flavor produced by oil forced into prolonged hermetic storage, especially if in cans.


Moist wood


Flavor characteristic of oil obtained from olives that have undergone a freezing process on the tree.

 

how to choose extra virgin oil

 

Conclusions

Creating a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a complex task starting with the extremely delicate raw material, then moving on to its processing and transformation and ending with storage, each stage is extremely important and determines the quality of the final product.

I hope that what I wanted to share with you about my experience with extra virgin olive oil will help you better understand what to put on your plate from now on.

 

Let me know if you liked the article, write me a message on Instagram => by clicking here

 

…And now knead, enjoy and taste!

 

Rudy

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