TASTE TESTING - How to taste extra virgin olive oil - like the professionals do.
Start by pouring approximately 10-15ml of oil into a small plastic cup. As it is best to taste olive oil lukewarm (around 28°C), hold the container in your hand and gently swirl. Next, smell the oil and note what aromas you detect. Is it fresh? What fruit characters can you distinguish? These might be fresh cut grass, green leaf, green tomato or fruit characters of sweet almond, floral or apple to name a few.
Now take a sip and draw in some air – this is called aspiration and allows the oil to partly atomise which helps in releasing the flavour. Hold the oil on the tongue for around 5 seconds before swallowing or spitting the oil out. It is actually best to swallow just a little to help you pick up the finish of the oil.
Assess the oil for the amount of fruit, bitterness and pungency present. Stay aware of flavours that linger after you have finished. Is it peppery, bitter or fruity? Is it balanced?
A great oil will have a harmonious blend of fruit, bitterness and pungency. An excellent oil will also have the added characteristic of complexity, with a rich combination of positive characters present in the oil. In between tasting oils have pieces of cut apple and water at hand to help keep your palate fresh and ready to taste the next oil.
TYPES OF OLIVE OIL - Olive oil or extra virgin… what’s the difference?
Despite what you may have heard, premium extra virgin olive oil is the only oil that truly delivers health benefits and food improving qualities. But what is the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil? To put it simply, the best quality extra virgin olive oil is made from the best quality fruit pressed as soon as possible after harvest; it contains less than 1% acidity (Oleic acids) and has no taste defects. Pure oil (second press) or light olive oil (third press) are often chemically refined with greater acidity levels and taste defects. At Olio Bello we specialise in first pressed extra virgin olive oil only.
Myth: All extra virgin olive oils are the same.
FACT: They're not. Olio Bello uses a variety of olives and harvesting protocols to ensure each product meets the highest standard. With 14 varieties of olives on the farm we have the unique ability to produce a range of extra virgin olive oils in delicate, medium and robust styles.
Myth: Light and extra light olive oil are healthier than extra virgin.
FACT: Light and extra light olive oils are made from poor quality olives from which much of the good attributes of olive oil are stripped during processing. These include most of the healthy antioxidants! A little extra virgin olive oil is then added to restore colour and taste, about the only things that are light. Make no mistake: extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest edible fats, and far superior to so-called “light” and “extra light” products.
Myth: Extra virgin olive oil can't be used for cooking.
FACT: It can actually be used for most cooking applications including baking and frying, except for those involving extreme heat. As long as it doesn't smoke, using extra virgin olive oil actually adds flavour and aroma.
Myth: First pressed olive oils are better.
FACT: Extra virgin olive oil can only be produced from the first press. Processing the pomace (pulp) more than once has a detrimental effect on all the good attributes it has to offer.
Myth: Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is better than extra virgin olive oil.
FACT: All extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed. While some heat is universally added to allow the oil to separate from the flesh of the fruit, if the processor adds enough heat to change the composition of the oil it can't be called extra virgin. “Cold pressed” is really a marketing term designed to reassure consumers and dates back to the days of old stone mills and mats.
Myth: Olive oil improves with age.
FACT: Olive oil, like all other edible fats, starts deteriorating as soon as it is made. The important thing is to preserve its qualities for as long as possible by keeping it away from heat and light.
Myth: Older trees make better oil.
FACT: Let’s dispel another myth while we’re on the subject of age. Many groves produce award-winning oils in their first production season. It has more to do with management practices than the age of the grove.
Myth: Greener oils are better than golden oils.
FACT: Not so – colour is generally an indication of the time the olives were harvested. Some oils are greener when harvested earlier in the season, while later harvested oils tend to be more golden. Different varieties of olives also have a bearing on oil colour. So while you may have a colour preference, colour is not regarded as an indicator of quality.
Myth: European olive oil is better than Australian.
FACT: They used to say that about wine, too. Australia has developed new olive growing practices and now produces olive oil as good as the best from Europe.