Quality Criteria of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a must-have ingredient both at home and in a professional kitchen. A lot has been heard about olive oil, but only a few know the quality criteria and what are the special taste qualities. To understand, why one bottle of extra virgin olive oil costs just a few euros, but others much more, one has to know the way this oil is produced and what exactly costs more. Knowing this everyone can evaluate and make their own choices in favour of a particular product group.
How is extra virgin olive oil produced
Olive harvesting time is the most important factor in the production of extra virgin olive oil. The ripening of the olives is similar to that of apples – juice is not squeezed from green or rotten apples. Good extra virgin olive oil is obtained from olives, when they turn from green to brown. This period lasts only 2-3 weeks, and during this time all the plantations have to harvested to achieve the required quality.
There is another important aspect when harvesting olives – the earlier this is done at the maturity stage, the more polyphenols are present in the olives, which are antioxidants or natural preservatives. The level of polyphenols is the key to high quality oil, and the higher it is the better. The polyphenol level of olives harvested in October is the highest and then it decreases rapidly as the olives mature. Unfortunately, by pressing the oil early, the volume of harvesting is lost. Other times only 10-12% of the potential harvest is obtained, which is why the price is twice as high as that of olives pressed at the end of November and in December.
Basic rules of acquiring premium olive oils
- Early harvesting, which is usually early October (when the olives start to fall by themselves it is too late).
- Immediate grinding and oil extraction – ideally, if the oil is pressed out within an hour after harvesting, thus avoiding oxidation, while the fruit is still fresh.
- Harvesting and cold pressing at low temperatures most often takes place at night.
Also, the term extra virgin cannot be used for every product – there are EU standards that must be met. One of the quality criteria is the symbol (Seal of International Quality Extra Virgin) awarded only to TOP premium products produced to the highest standards. If you are looking for proven quality extra virgin olive oil, choose a product with this symbol.
Taste qualities of high quality extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh flavour (fresh grass, meadow, tree leaves, etc.).
- Bitter taste (Arbequina is a milder olive variety, more popular in northern Europe, Picual – more bitter as it grows in the south).
- A sharp, peppery sensation in the throat – caused by polyphenols. If this sensation is not present, oil is simply a grease with no added value. And this peppery flavour provides a spicy taste without the addition of spices.
Use of extra virgin
Olive oil is the ingredient of almost all dishes in the Mediterranean countries – the flavour, the benefits of the nutrition elements consumed, the compatibility of the flavours with other ingredients, and the variety are just some of the reasons, why we should take over this culinary ingredient. A few drops of high quality extra virgin olive oil is sometimes all that is needed to make the dish excellent.
Another important factor in using extra virgin olive oil is that it must be used within 3 months to justify its quality and price. Olive oil should be used fresh, so it is better to buy it in small volumes, such as 500 ml bottles.
The Gemoss range includes a wide range of olive oils for those with different tastes and quality criteria. The newcomer to the range is the Spanish family farm “Finca Duernas” BIO olive oil in elegantly designed bottles and of consistently high quality. The assortment includes two types of olive oils – Arbequina and Picaul. Arbequina has mild taste, but Picual will stand out by a more peppery taste. Choose quality in everything!