9 facts about olive oil

Olive oil belongs in every good kitchen and is considered particularly tasty. It is one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet. In Germany, consumers are still somewhat reserved with an annual consumption of about 600ml per capita, although this number is continuously growing. In Spain, for example, the average per capita consumption is approximately 12 litres per year.

Pour the oil in small glasses or cups. Place one hand on the mouth of the cup and hold the cup with the other about 30 seconds to slightly heat the oil. Then smell the oil. How intense are the flavors? Do they remind you of fruits or grass? Now take a gulp of oil and rinse the palate in order to recognize its characteristics, such as sweetness, acidity, bitter notes and other desirable or undesirable flavours. The colour of the oil plays only a minor role.
How do I recognize good olive oil? This question is not easily answered. No matter what criteria you go by, the taste should most important of all! A good olive oil has a blend of fruity, bitter and somewhat pungent flavours and smells a bit like fresh grass! However there are vast differences in matters of taste.

The term „extra virgin“ is absolutely necessary, also a clear indication of origin, the date of filling and the bottling site (the designation „EU“ reflects a blended oil of mixed origin). Very good extra virgin olive oil can not be produced for 2-3 euros, an average consumer price of € 9-12 for good and 12-20 euros per 500 ml for a very good olive oil is realistic. Unfortunately, the quality is not necessarily reflected in the price, as there are many regions such as in Italy on steep slopes, which require manual harvesting rendering the final product far more expensive.

One of the main characteristics of olive oil is its acidity, which in the case of extra-virgin oil may not exceed the value of 0.8 grams per 100 grams. The lower the acidity, the higher the quality. When overripe, old or rancid olives are used, the acidity increases considerably. This is difficult for the consumer to discern, but can be determined under laboratory conditions.

In both of our extra-virgin olive oil varieties the acidity is between 0.10 to 0.20 grams per 100 grams, which is a sign of its exceptional quality.

Extra-virgin olive oil is very well suited for frying, however the temperature should not exceed 170°/180°. Should the oil begin to smoke, turn down the heat immediately.

The popular Mediterranean cuisine has been cooking with olive oil for centuries. The fruity, slightly sharp and pungent notes of very good extra-virgin olive oil adds a wonderful final touch to the taste of dishes. It is suitable for almost all dishes such as fish, meat, vegetables, salad and all Mediterranean cuisine.

Good olive oil extra virgin can be correctly stored up to 24 months. You can easily tell by the smell if it is no longer suitable for consumption. It becomes rancid and the dissolving fats render the oil unpalatable. One should also be cautious when infusing the olive oil with fresh herbs or garlic, since these can quickly go mouldy if not completely covered by oil.
The perfect storage for olive oil is a cool and dark place at a temperature below 18°C. The oil should always be sealed and protected from UV rays in order not to promote the ageing process. Large quantities of olive oil are best stored in the basement. A small filled bottle (250-500 ml) in the kitchen is ideal for everyday use.
The somewhat unusual peppery and pungent sensation in the throat when tasting pure olive oil is often initially perceived as unpleasant, however this is an indication of the very good quality of the oil. If there is no pungent sensation, this can even be an indication of the oil’s poor quality or old age.
Depending on climatic conditions, an olive tree bears 40-50 kg of olives per season, from which about 6-9 litres of very good extra-virgin olive oil can be extracted. The yield depends on the variety of the olive, the region in which is growing, the degree of ripeness, irrigation and daily amount of sunshine. The later the olive is harvested, the more oil can be extracted, but also the poorer the resulting quality will be.
Extra-virgin oil: Olive oils of this first category must – among other requirements – be flawless in taste and smell. EU regulations define the requirements.

Virgin: A second grade oil. In Germany, most often only „extra-virgin“ labeled oils can be bought.

Lampante: A virgin oil with significant sensory defects such as rancid or stale taste or smell. Such oil is not approved for direct human consumption and must be refined to make it edible.

Cold pressed: When pressing, the temperature must not exceed 27 degrees Celsius. Additional heat is not allowed even when pressing the usual virgin olive oils.

Heat treatment: The unpleasant taste and smell of inferior oils (virgin, lampante etc.) can be improved by heating, however this is not permitted. Such treatment can be later detected in a laboratory.

The label „extra-virgin“ in Germany is not a definitive statement concerning the quality of the oil. From a chemical perspective, olive oil sold for € 3 hardly differs from an oil sold for € 15, even though their taste and smell are worlds apart.

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