16 Mar For The Love Of Olive Oil
Olive Oil is something I love and use liberally in my cooking, perhaps going through as much as 15 liters per year. Olive Oil is like wine in the fact that it has so many aromas and flavors. I have always had an insatiable appetite to learn anything and everything about food and wine so it just made sense to get my Master of Olive Oil certification.
The history of the olive oil tree dates all the way back to Asia minor where it spread to Iran, Syria and the rest of the Mediterranean Basin. It is a nearly 6,000 year old tree with examples of it being grown before the written language. It is also worthy to note that it is a fruit so it shall have fruity flavor profiles as well. I shall attempt to give you a basic understanding of the different types of olive oil, its different uses and what to look for when purchasing it. I will break down olive oil from the different countries that are readily available in the USA. Also all of these olive oil types must have not undergone any other treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtering.
Please note that the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has a United Nations charter to develop standards and criteria for the quality and or purity of this fruit.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or EVOO
The highest quality oil but not all EVOO are great but all great olive oils ARE EVOO. A certified taste panel must say that it has zero defects and has some fruitiness. It must also have a free acidity percentage of less than 0.8%. It also must have clear flavor characteristics that reflect the fruit from which it was made. It is important that all the fruit comes from one particular region on the label to eliminate blending and fraudulent oils. This is what you might want to use for finishing and drizzling on different fruits, vegetables and proteins to add an extra level of flavor. This is also what I use on my bread and pastas because the taste is pure and full of depth.
This is oil with a sensory analysis rating of the mean of having defects less than 2.5% and a free acidity of less than 2% and conforms to all other standards. Great for sauteing, frying and grilling. It is the lowest quality I will use in my house for high volume use.
This is oil that has a free acidity of no more than 3.3%. It is an inferior olive oil with notable defects!
Produces the second most volume of olive oil in the world to Spain. It is interesting to note the different types of olives for olive oil as they have very different flavors/usages.
Hailing from Northern Italy from the region of Liguria considered one of the finest olive oils in all of Italy. It is buttery, fruity with a delicate flavor that makes it perfect for salads, breads and pesto. It has a VERY long finish.
Its flavor is sweet and grassy with hints of almond with a buttery consistency. It leaves a peppery aftertaste after swallowing; originated in Tuscany but is popular across Italy.
A grassy herbaceous olive oil that pairs well with green vegetables. It is highly prized for its tall trees and weeping branches with high fruit production. It is usually planted in orchards for pollination purposes. Great in warm climates of Italy.
Medium fruity olive oil with peppery notes, artichoke mint and sage. Widespread in Central Italy ( Tuscany, Umbria) Great with grilled red meats and arugula or bitter greens.
Hailing from Campania This is bold spicy with hints of rosemary and mint yet slightly fruity. Great with grilled fish and vegetables.
Hailing from Northern Italy across Lombardy Veneto and Alto Adige. It has notes of artichoke, cut grass, herbs, green peppers and flowers. Great for many different uses.
The highest production country in the world in terms of olive oil production. As a result of the new countries producing olive oil many of the smaller production families are facing extinction. They produce a wide range of variety and quality.
Fresh cut grass and apples, Great for sauces fish and salads.
Exotic fruits, apples and macaroons.
The most commonly planted variety in Spain. Fruity slightly sweet with notes of banana and apple. Great with anchovies . dressings and marinades. Also great on toast in the morning.
Tomato, almond and slightly fig . medium fruitiness with notes of slight pepper.
Greece is the 3rd largest olive oil producer in the world, but the largest producer of EVOO. The average Greek person consumes 26 liters of olive oil per year!
Fruity nose with cut grass and fresh artichokes. It also has a strong peppery finish. The most widely planted variety in Greece
Fragrant, malty and creamy with notes of dried herbs and pine nuts.
Golden, Sweet and yellow with great fruitiness and well balanced notes. It is very universal and can be used for nearly anything. Is widely considered to be Greece’ best olive oil.
The Golden State is increasing in its olive oil production but still has years to go in terms of catching up with Europe with quality.
Fruity with barely any pepper. It is a very mild olive oil great in dressings and marinades. It has a much shorter life span.
An Olive oil that possesses a green fruit robust flavor with a peppery finish. It is zesty and has a great application in salads. It originally hails from Spain but it has great production in California.
This is the most widely planted variety in California brought to them by the priests serving in mission all over the state. It has notes of almond, green grass and slight fruitiness that are extremely versatile. This can used in anything but it lacks the depth in flavor that European olive oil has.
SOME FINAL TIPS
- Look at the back of the bottles for a harvest date. They lose their flavor within 12-18 months so I wouldn’t buy them after that.
- Only buy olive oil that is labeled as one particular olive. Blended oils lack quality.
- Always buy EVOO whenever possible as it is the best quality and most versatile.
- Try to use different oils in their best usages like wine.
- Never buy any olive oil that doesn’t specify all of designations above.
Email me if you have any questions. Happy exploring!