Did You Know... Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Facts
- Color is NOT a good indicator of an oils quality. This is why professional olive oil tasters often taste the oils from colored glasses.
- Fruitiness, Bitterness and Pungency are all GOOD characteristics of olive oil. A recent study at the University of California Davis Olive Center concluded that many consumers have not yet acquired a taste for quality oil. This is because they have only been exposed to subpar and rancid oils in the past. Similar to specialty coffees and beers, this taste must be acquired.
- “First cold pressing” is an antiquated term stemming from the days when olives were pressed between mats and then subsequently the residual paste was heated again to extract more oil. Today, all pressing is “cold” or done at a temperature below 860 F, and the olives are only pressed once!
- The 5 most important factors in olive oil quality and taste are;
- Olive variety – Our Maurino EVOO for ex. is delicate, while our Koroneiki is robust!
- Olive ripeness when harvested – Ideally the olives are harvested when the trees have olives in varied stages of ripeness. Under-ripe olives are highest in antioxidants and lend bitterness to the oil. Riper olives have a higher sugar content and lend a delicate fruitiness to the oil.
- Farming practices – Our olives are grown on small family farms in California. Most are organic.
- Milling process – All our olives are milled on small family farms within 24 hours of harvest. Our estate oils are produced from olives picked from orchards on the same property as the mill, so they are crushed within just a few hours, yielding the most superior oil of all!
- Storage process – Our oils are always protected from light and kept in temperature controlled environments
- To be certified as Extra Virgin, by the California Olive Oil Council the oil must have;
- Acidity (or free fatty acid content) of < 0.5%. The International Council requirement is less stringent at < 0.8%. Free fatty acid levels increase as the quality of the fruit worsens.
- PV (peroxide value) of < 12. This is not a requirement for the International Council. Peroxides are formed when there is too much exposure to oxygen during the production process. The presence of peroxides indicates deterioration of the oil.
- Taste test by 8 panel members deemed as, “no defects”
- Heat, light and oxygen are enemies of olive oil. Once you purchase your oil, store it in colored glass or keep clear glass in a dark place such as a cabinet.
- Olive oil will harden at refrigerator temperatures of 37-390 F. Freezing olive oil will NOT harm it, this is a myth! Actually, it will prolong the flavor and nutritional benefits of the oil.
- For fullest flavor, olive oil should be used within 18-24 months of harvest
- The average smoke point for high quality extra virgin olive oil is 3750 F.
- Balsamic vinegar is made from Trebbiano grapes, aged in a series of wooden casks, each comprised of a different wood and contributing to the overall flavor of the vinegar. The longer the vinegar ages the sweeter and thicker it becomes.
- The alcohol produced as a result of the grape’s fermentation, is converted to acetic acid in the vinegar production process, so there is essentially no alcohol content in the final product.
- “Balsamic” stems from the Italian word balm, meaning medicinal.
- Balsamic vinegar is good indefinitely when stored properly, in a cool, dark place. Don’t be concerned if sediment forms on the bottom of the bottle, this is a natural outcome of the aging process and is not harmful.