All About Olive Oil

03.27.17


Olive oil is a hot culinary topic these days, although many people are still quite confused about what makes a great olive oil and how to choose it.  Verdicchio’s extra virgin oil features all the required characteristics.
Bottled in Buti, Tuscany by Simone Bernardini, this olive oil is the first pressed, cold pressed using 100% Italian olives and has an acidity of 0.4 which is well below the 1% requirement to call it extra virgin.  It’s smooth, light taste with a peppery finish, typical of Tuscan olive oil, which makes it the ideal choice for a healthy Mediterranean diet.


How can you use Verdicchio extra virgin olive oil?

  1. Add a perfect finish to a legume soup, grilled vegetables , meats or fish, or a green salad.
  2. Perfect for a pinzimonio dip.
  3. Also, great for baking!

What are the different kinds of Olive Oil?

  1. Extra-virgin, virgin, olive oil

What is the best kind?

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, first pressed and cold pressed

What are the characteristics of the best olive oil?

  • Low acidity – less than 1%
  • No treatment in organoleptic properties (colour, taste, aroma – highest rating 10/10; must not be lower than 6.5 out of 10)
  • Cold pressed – no chemicals (this produces a natural level of low acidity)
  • First pressed
  • Colour ranges from crystalline champagne to greenish-gold to bright green

Is there more than one kind of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Yes, their characteristics are:

  • Organoleptic rating of 5.5 out of 10
  • Acidity maximum 2%
  • No treatments (fixed or defective oils are detoxified then flavoured and coloured with a little extra virgin olive oil)

What is the difference between extra-virgin and olive oil?

  • Oils which are not extra-virgin involve treatments; olive oil is obtained by pressing the residue of the waste product which is extracted through chemical methods.

Where in Italy is olive oil produced?

  • In all regions except Piemonte and Val D’Aosta
    Which regions produce the best?
    Umbria, Tuscany and Puglia

What influences the quality of olive oil?

  • Soil
  • Climate
  • Harvesting methods
  • Pressing methods
  • Hygienic practices
  • Storage
  • Time of harvest

Why do prices vary?

  • Prices vary greatly according to where olives are grown, harvesting methods and geographical location (best comes from inland regions – trees produce less fruit than the Mediterranean ones, therefore oil is more expensive). An inexpensive olive oil cannot be extra-virgin.

When is the flavour of olive oil the best?

  • 18-24 months from date of production
  • The younger and fresher the better (as oils age they lose the intense fruitiness and peppery taste)

What are the benefits of olive oil?

  • Most digestive of the edible fats; it is the only natural vegetable fat
  • Helps assimilate vitamins A,D and K
  • Contains essential acids that cannot be produced by our bodies
  • Slows down aging process
  • Controls cholesterol; helps prevent clogging of the arteries
  • Helps bile, liver and intestinal functions

What are the seven rules of a good quality extra-virgin olive oil?

  • Healthy and well cumulative olives
  • Favourable climate
  • Hand-picked from tree
  • Olives picked at optimum period and not excessively mature
  • Transferred to olive mill in open crates, not in bags
  • Quickly pressed (within 24 hours of picking)
  • Olives pressed with modern pressed and perfectly hygienic

When is the best time to taste olive oil?

  • In the morning with a clean palate

Is oil still edible when it looks cloudy or white?

  • Yes, the cloudiness is a natural effect due to exposure to low temperatures; it gets clear after some time at room temperature

What is the best way to use extra-virgin olive oil?

  • Salads, drizzled on soups (raw)

How can you test olive oil for true virginity?

  • Place a small quantity of oil in a glass bowl and refrigerate for a few days; if it becomes crystalline, the chances are good that it is a true extra-virgin olive oil; if it forms a block, it is most likely chemically refined oil with some first-pressed oil added

What is the best way to store olive oil?

  • In a cool dark place

What are the categories of extra-virgin olive oil?

  • Mild:
    1. Light, buttery sweet taste (not bitter)
    2. Pairs perfectly with meat, carpaccio, broiled and grilled fish, raw, cooked or steamed vegetable, soups and pasta sauces
  • Fruity:
    1. Slightly stronger and fruitier flavour
    2. Compliments grilled meats, pastas, cooled vegetables; cheeses and bruschetta’s
  • Fruity-Spice:
    1. Aggressive taste
    2. Ideal for accompanying rustic traditional dishes

Terms to describe olive oil:

  • Appearance
    Green
    Yellow
    Brown
    Transparent
    Glossy
  • Texture
    Velvety
    Thick
    Pungent
    Sticky
  • Aroma
    Grassy
    Fruity
    Rancid
    Peppery
    Bitter
    Earthy
    Nutty (almond)

Defects of olive oil:

  • Fusty: Olives stored in places that have undergone fermentation
  • Musty: From fungi and yeasts in olives stored in humid conditions
  • Melon: Old oils
  • Muddy sediment: Prolonged contact with sediment in storage containers
  • Winey, sour, vinegary: Due to formation of excessive amounts of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethane from fermentation in the olives
  • Metallic: Contact with metals during processing
  • Rancid: From oxidation

Positive attributes: (Should be present in moderation and balanced)

  • Fresh olive fruitiness – ripe or green
  • Bitterness due to some greenness
  • Pungency – biting sensation to whole mouth then the throat (often delayed) characteristics of olives picked early in season

Defect Score:

  • Extra-virgin: 0 defect, fruitiness, acidity less than 1%
  • Virgin: defect 0 to 2.5, fruitiness, acidity from 1 – 2 %
  • Ordinary Virgin: defect from 2.5 to 6.0 if fruity or less than 2% if not fruity; acidity from 2 to 3.3%
  • Lampante: defects score greater than 6, acidity above 3.3%

Step by step for beginners

  • Look for a date of extraction or use by date on the label
  • Look for method of extraction and temperature
  • Smell for fruitiness that may be either ripe or green