FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I am passionate about Olives and Olive Oil. I use a lot of it. I try all kinds of brands, and always stop at olive oil stores in every city I visit. Crazy as it sounds, we went to a 3 day Olive Oil Seminar and Tasting in NYC this summer. Famous tasters from around the world judged the best olive oils and gave awards. As we have educated ourselves about what wine to buy, the next challenge is to educate ourselves about olive oil and eliminate the mystique of which to buy and how to use. Fun in tasting!
What Should I know about Olive Oil?
The honest answer to that question is that it all depends on your personality. Are you someone who needs a lot of information about anything before you buy it? Do you care where the grapes that created your wine were grown? Or where coffee beans, mustard or cocoa come from? Three people who do care would be the Sapozniks.
So for anyone who shares our passion for olive oil here in a nutshell (nice food pun) is what you need to know about olive oil.
Olive oil is the pure juice of pressed olives. An olive oil is defined by the olive variety, the maturity of the olives when harvested, how the olives are handled during harvest, and how quickly they are crushed after picking.
The taste of an olive oil depends upon where the olives are grown, and the time of harvest. Northern hemisphere olives are harvested in fall, southern hemisphere are harvested six months later. Climate, soil and weather are all factors in the harvest which is why every year the best olive oils can come from different locations.
Olives that are harvested early, before they are fully ripened, generally yield less oil and that oil has a deeper green color and a higher level of bitterness and pungency. This is because the olives contain a higher level of chlorophyll and therefore a higher poly-phenol count (up to five times that of olives picked during the regular harvest).
Poly-phenols are the compounds that contribute to the bitterness and pungency of the olive oil and provide many of the health benefits.
The color of olive oil is dependent on the pigments in the fruit. Green olives give a green oil because of the high chlorophyll content. Ripe olives give a yellow oil because of the carotenoid pigments, The color of the oil is influenced by the combination and proportions of pigments.
Now you know what you need (actually want) to know about olive oil. And if the topic on Jeopardy is ever olive oil, you’ll be the winner.he honest answer to that question is that it all depends on your personality. Are you someone who needs a lot of information about anything before you buy it? Do you care where the grapes that created your wine were grown? Are you interested in the origins of mustard seeds or cocoa beans? To be honest, most people are not. Three people who definitely are would be the Sapozniks.
What should Olive Oil taste like?
Well the simple and obvious answer would be olives. But we imagine that’s not the answer that you’re looking for. So we will answer that question with two of our own. What does chocolate taste like? What does wine taste like? Like what should olive oil taste like, these also are not easy questions to answer.
Olive Oil has many different tastes. Some can have the taste of sage, wild artichokes, tomato leaves or even bananas. People we know have described Olive Oil as mild and fruity, to grassy and herbaceous (whatever that means), to bold and buttery with a pleasant peppery finish. Regardless of how it’s described, the flavor of Olive Oil should linger in your mouth after the initial taste.
No matter how Olive Oil tastes to you, the Greeks had it right when they described Olive Oil as “Liquid Gold.”
Do different olives taste different?
Yes, and if you want to taste them all you better love olives. That’s because there are over 100 varietals of olives. Each possesses its own unique characteristics. For example, the Hujiblanca variety from Spain produces a delicate oil with a slight citrus flavor, while the Frantoio variety, found in Tuscany, offers a rich taste of artichokes.
Some olives are better suited to make oil while others make better table olives. Some like Nocellara are good for both.
Like a vintner creates a recipe for fine wines, so does a producer of Olive Oils. There are single varietal oils as well as mixed varietals. Bottom line is that no two Olive Oils are the same.
Is there a proper way to taste olive oil?
We could be wise guys and say you should use your mouth. But to be honest, there’s more to it than that. To truly appreciate the taste of Olive Oil you should pour, smell, sip and gasp. Once you pour the oil, sniff it with both nostrils, then take a sip and let it slide down your tongue. Then take a short gasp of air through your mouth. That gasp will bring out the subtleties of the oil. Wait a few seconds, and let the oil linger before swallowing. Unlike tasting wine, never slosh oil around in your mouth.
How should I care for a bottle of Olive Oil?
Treat your bottle of Olive Oil with loving care and it will return the favor. Dark bottles or tins are the best for storage. Clear bottles or cruets need to be stored in a dark cupboard. Light, heat, and air are the arch enemies of Olive Oils.
Perhaps the best advice we can give you is to consume your oil within 18 months of harvest. We find that a fairly easy goal to meet but then again Olive Oil appears in over a dozen weekly meals in our home. Use it frequently and then buy more from the new harvest.
So how do you know when the olives were harvested? Check the date of harvest on the bottle, tin, or it should be available at the store where you purchased it. In Italy, they say, “a good wine lasts one dinner—a good oil lasts many meals.”
How do I know if an Olive Oil is a quality oil?
Just purchase all your oils at the Olive Connection.
The serious answer is to trust where you buy your Olive Oil. Specialty stores like ours stake their reputation on offering only the best available oils. That being said, the California Olive Council has very strict labeling information. Unfortunately, at this time, imported products don’t adhere to the same strict standards.
Awards for the best Olive Oils, both domestic and imported, are given annually. Look for recognition of an award on the oil bottle or tin label.
Are there particular Olive Oils that match specific foods?
The short answer is yes. But the reality is matching oils and foods comes down to personal taste, literally and figuratively. Light and delicate dishes such as fish and soups may be best with a milder, less fruity Olive Oil. More robust, full-flavored dishes made with red meat and tomato-based sauces as well as hearty stews, steamed vegetables and salads may be better with fruity more flavorful oils.
Arbequina olives and Koroneiki are the go to olives. They both pair well with salads and for dipping. Flavored oils are also available today. These are infused with a variety of flavors. Some of the most popular are lemon, basil or jalapeno, crushed (fused) along with the olives in the crafting stage of the oil.
If you like adding ingredients to your oil like garlic or caramelized onions, we recommend only Extra Virgin Olive Oil EVOO.
Will Olive Oil improve my health?
Perhaps not to the extent of training for triathlons, but yes, research shows that the Mediterranean diet with 4-5 tablespoons of Olive Oil a day, along with a handful of nuts, counteracts the effects of aging on the brain.
The Mediterranean diet also improves cardiovascular health, emphasizing vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, beans, fish, wine (Yay!) and minimal consumption of meat and full-fat dairy products.
OLIVE OIL HAS A MULTITUDE OF HEALTH BENEFITS
-Keeps your heart young and healthy
-Rich in antioxidants
-Decreases the risk of cancer and diabetes
-Helps prevent memory loss
-Effective in lowering blood pressure
How about a bit of TMI.
Adding blood orange olive oil (yes, there is such an Olive Oil) to brownies gives them a wonderful taste. Also, while on the subject of desserts (a favorite subject of ours) the traditional Italian cookie is only made with Olive Oil.
Could you give me a basic 101 course in the types of Olives?
First up is Koroneiki This is the most popular olive in Greece. Taste differences depend on the geographic location of the trees, soil and climate. We have Koroneiki Olive Oils from Greece and California.
We have a Private Reserve EVOO
This is a fresh, green, aromatic oil that has a delicate to medium intensity. The aroma is one of dried herbs along with apple, tomato, and dried mint. On the palate, the taste is one of dried herbs and a slight chicory bitterness with mild radish heat and a nutty finish. It has a subtle flavor that is very attractive on the palate.
We also have an Organic Early Harvest Single Estate EVOO
This is a balanced, harmonious oil that exhibits differentiation from other Greek oils of this kind. The aroma is dried herbs with a hint of fresh green herbs and honey. On the palate, the fruitiness contains a dried herbal taste with radicchio bitterness and mild radish peppery, nutty finish. The style is delicate bordering on medium.
Second up is Arbequina
This is an olive that is most versatile and is grown in many areas of the world. The oil from this olive is mild, buttery with a light peppery finish. It is also described as light and fruity, with a complex aroma of ripe fruit, banana and basil. It has a smooth taste with a balance of mild bitterness and pungency.
We have one from Spain and one from Northern California.
Third Up is Hojiblanca
This Olive Oil is a medium intense , fruity oil with elegant notes of ripe tomato, tropical fruit and almond. Its flavor is robust and pungent with a pleasant aftertaste. We have one from Spain.
Fourth Up are Blends i.e. Sourani, Beldi, Ayrouni
This Olive Oil is well-balanced in flavor and character. It’s suitable for many tastes and any usage. We have one blend from North Lebanon.
These are large and oval olives. The fruit ripens evenly and late in the season. Coratina olives produce very high-quality oil with high levels of poly-phenols making it very stable and intensely fruity and pungent. These olives create an oil that has robust intensity, with characteristics of both almonds and artichokes, with a spicy finish.
This olive has a distinctive shape, with a marked point at the end of the fruit. Picual olives ripen from mid-November through late December. Picual is one of the most stable olive oils in the world due to a very high poly-phenol count and is also stands up well to high heat during cooking. The flavor is very powerful and flavorful causing a “bite” in the back of the throat. Picual is fruity with a sweetish taste and low pungency without being bitter. Medium intensity, with a taste of fresh tomatoes, figs and banana skin. We have a Picual Olive Oil from Uruguay.
Nocellara del Belice
These are large, plump olives that make both good table olives and good oil. When being used for oil, the olives are harvested early to get a light, fruity oil. For table olives, they are harvested when they reach a brownish-green. Ours are from Italy.
Chock full of desirable pepper and extremely pungent this robust green oil displays capsicum like sensations and has high anti-oxidant content without a lot of bitterness. It rewards a diner with a lingering, healthy burn. Ours are from California.