Written by Carmine Janko Pezzullo
In the three previous blogs on extra virgin olive oil, we have analysed what are the objective elements to take into consideration in order to choose a quality extra virgin olive oil.
We started with the simplest objective indicator: the price.
We have clarified that to extract a liter of extra virgin olive oil we need about 6/7 kg of raw material, namely olives, and that, when we buy a liter of oil bottled in a supermarket, we are paying in addition to the aforementioned raw material much else.
The final cost of a liter of bottled oil is in fact made up of a sum of many other inevitable costs which consist of:
- processing costs,
- cost of the bottle,
- transport costs,
- earnings of the final seller and any intermediate sellers,
- and taxes
For this reason, we felt like advising you, in agreement with the vast majority of industry experts, to go straight and without delay in front of the many offers that promise Italian extra virgin olive oil, bottled, at 3/4 or 5 € per liter, because, unless the seller has decided to give you a personal gift, it is mathematically impossible that we are talking about a good quality product.
To find out more about the price that a good quality extra virgin olive oil must have, I invite you to read our blog dedicated to the price of an excellent extra virgin olive oil.
The second objective indicator that we went to analyse is, unlike the first, difficult to evaluate independently from the consumer's point of view, but, it is a fact that a producer should always specify in his labels or at least through his own channels of communication: we are talking about acidity.
Acidity is the parameter that, better than any other, manages to summarise an overall assessment of the chemical quality of extra virgin olive oil. Not surprisingly, the European Community has identified acidity as one of the fundamental values for differentiating extra virgin olive oil from lower-quality oils, decreeing that E.V.O. (an acronym for extra virgin olive oil) cannot have an acidity higher than 0.80 grams per 100 grams.
But why is acidity so important?
We have seen that the acidity of the oil is a parameter that indirectly tells us the story of the oil itself, of the raw material used, and of its processing techniques. In fact, the more the olives used are of good quality, picked at the right moment of ripeness and pressed in the right way and making the shortest possible time elapse from harvesting, the lower the acidity of the oil will be, vice versa, the acidity rate it will rise until it can no longer even label the oil as Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Again, to find out more about the acidity of extra virgin olive oil and how to discover it, I invite you to read the dedicated blog.
Last but not least, the notion of what are the elements to look for in a good quality extra virgin olive oil, we have known what are the organoleptic qualities that we must look for in this exceptional product.
We have in fact seen that extra virgin olive oil. quality must be characterised by three main organoleptic attributes: fruity, bitter, and spicy.
The Fruity is a fundamental characteristic that only the oils extracted from olives have (since they are obtained only and only from the fruit, the olive, through the use of exclusively mechanical processes) and not the oils obtained from the seeds, which to be extracted and made edible undergo industrial refining processes. Fruity is therefore that set of olfactory sensations perceived directly and/or retronasal, depending on the variety of olives and in any case characteristics of the oil obtained from fresh and healthy, green or ripe fruits.
Quality extra virgin olive oil must be bitter. Bitterness, like spicy, comes from the presence of precious substances - antioxidants - which protect the oil from oxidation as well as the cells of the human body, inducing a series of favorable effects on health. Bitter, like spicy, is an asset of olive oil and not a defect. It is evident that oils produced from different cultivars can have a different intensity of bitterness, but, in essence, a good quality oil cannot be without a bitter component, even if minimal.
Spicy is that pungent tactile sensation characteristic of the oils produced at the beginning of the harvest, mainly from green or slightly ripened olives and in any case rich in phenolic compounds, which can be perceived particularly in the throat. The healthier the olives, the richer they are in polyphenols: polyphenols are responsible for the spicy sensation in the throat. Consequently, the spiciness is directly proportional to the content of polyphenols (natural antioxidants contained in the oil).
To learn more about the organoleptic qualities to look for in a good extra virgin olive oil and why it is important to learn to recognise them, I invite you to read the blog dedicated to these three properties.
With this last analysis, we hope to have provided you with the basics to allow you to make an informed choice about which extra virgin olive oil you want to buy.
It must be said that, in addition to those that are basic objective characteristics that an extra virgin olive oil must necessarily have in order to be of good quality, in the choice of oil there are also distinctly subjective factors that concern the personal taste of each of us. Each E.V.O. oil, especially if of good quality, has its own organoleptic characteristics that depend on various factors, such as the place where the olives are grown, the cultivars used, and the degree of ripeness of the olives themselves at the time of milling.
The extra virgin olive oil that we have carefully selected for our customers is an expression of the highest possible quality target. This exceptional oil, produced in the centuries-old Masseria del Duca (in Puglia), can boast of being produced in a closed and extremely controlled supply chain.
The olives used to come exclusively from the company's olive grove which covers about 200 hectares with over 40,000 centuries-old olive trees, of native quality and with a sculptural appearance. Immediately after being harvested at a perfect stage of ripeness, the olives are transported to the company oil mill where the milling takes place cold, at a temperature of about 27 ° C. This type of processing involves a lower yield but fully safeguards the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of extra virgin olive oil.
This fine attention to detail and the careful mix of native qualities: Olearola 40%, Leccino 30%, Frantoio 20%, Coratina 10%, gives life to an extremely pleasant oil, with a golden-green color, green fruity scent and sweet and intense, with the bitter and spicy component that is present but naturally balanced. Our oil can also boast a very low acidity rate which, at the mill, does not exceed 0.12%. These unique qualities are protected from light by the rigorous use of dark bottles and nitrogen prior to capping, thus avoiding alterations due to oxidation - find out more here.