Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is made simply by crushing olives and extracting the juice. It is the only cooking oil that is made without the use of chemicals and industrial refining. It’s simply the juice of fresh, healthy olives which contains the health-promoting nutrients that olive oil is famous for.
One of the first questions people usually ask is what is the difference between Extra Virgin Olive Oil and other types of olive oils.
Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives.
It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any chemicals or additives, and at temperatures that will not degrade the oil. This is what the term “Cold-Pressed” or “Cold-Extracted” refers to.
- Virgin Olive Oil is of a lesser quality than Extra Virgin. It is produced in much the same way. It is natural unrefined oil with a higher free acidity value than extra virgin but still below 2%. Virgin oils may have minimal defects.
- Refined or Pure Olive oil is refined (often using solvents or other industrial processes) olive oil that has been blended with a minimum amount of virgin oil. Refined olive oil is often sold as ‘Light’ or ‘Pure’ olive oil.
- Blended Olive Oil is usually a blend of refined olive oil and other oils – often canola or sunflower oils. These oils have little in common with extra virgin olive oil in terms of taste and antioxidant properties.
Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil is…
Look for pleasant fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives.
Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral, while green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies with the variety of olive.
BITTER IS BETTER
Fresh olives oil will have a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue. If you pluck a perfect olive off a tree, it will be too bitter to eat. Just as with chocolate and craft beers, those who want to enjoy all of the health benefits and flavors of the best extra virgin olive oils should start to love bitterness.
Often the opposite of bitterness is the taste of rancidity. Unfortunately, studies have shown people will often choose a rancid olive oil over a fresh, high-quality one, thanks to years of knowing little else.
A peppery sensation in the mouth and throat is a sign of abundant nutrients in good, fresh extra virgin olive oil. Think of it like you would a chilli – the pungency is a positive characteristic of good olive oil.
There are other characteristics that people may prefer but don’t relate to the quality of the oil, for example colour and clarity. Some prefer a green to a gold coloured oil and others like an oil that hasn’t been filtered so may appear cloudy. These are purely a matter of taste.
Our Extra Virgin Olive Oil
As part of the SA Olive Commitment To Compliance process our oil is chemically analysed and tasted by an organoleptic tasting panel. The analysis is done to ensure that the oil has been produced from good quality fresh olives and then processed and stored in hygienic conditions to maintain the freshness and antioxidants that are unique to Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Our oil is a medium intensity, with a good balance of fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness that are characteristics of quality extra virgin olive oils. There are flavours of green and ripe olives, olive leaves as well as artichoke, walnuts and tomato flavours that give this oil its unique taste.
The oil is superb with salads, for use in cooking or even on its own with crusty bread. Whatever you use it for, use it generously!
|Analysis||FOOC||SA Olive Requirements|
|Free Fatty Acids||<0.4%||0.8%|
|Peroxide Value||<8 meq||20 meq|
Storing Olive Oil
The main enemies of keeping your olive oil fresh are heat, light and air. We bottle our extra virgin olive oils in a dark bottle to protect the oil from light but leaving it in a sunny spot in the kitchen isn’t a good idea. You can keep unopened olive oil in a cool, dark place for up to two years.
However, once you open the container the oil begins to degrade much faster. A good rule of thumb is to use it within a few months after opening.
Keep the bottle tightly capped and away from heat and direct light. We believe that the best strategy is to use olive oil often, and go through it quickly.
Making Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Process of making Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Only carefully selected, healthy olives, handpicked in their prime as they begin to ripen and milled without delay, are used to prepare our peppery and delicately fruity oil.
Olives are rarely “pressed” these days. Modern machines us a centrifugal extraction process which is much more efficient and hygienic. However we still refer to pressing olives and olive presses out of habit or perhaps a longing for times gone by!
The olives are processed as soon as they reach the olive shed using a state of the art Italian olive press. The olives are washed to remove any impurities picked up during the harvest and then crushed before being slowly mixed to help release the oil from the paste and then processed through a centrifuge decanter to separate the oil from the rest of the fruit.
A strict process is adhered to that ensures our olive oil is truly extra virgin, with no additives and no second pressing – only a first cold extraction of the olives that ensures the very finest extra virgin olive oil.
Once pressed the oil is stored under ideal conditions to maintain the freshness of the oil. We use a nitrogen blanketing system in our storage tanks to minimize the exposure of the olive oil to oxygen.
The oil allowed to settle before filtering and bottling. The exception is our “Olio Nuovo” (or new oil) which is bottled directly from the first pressing of the season resulting in the freshest extra virgin olive oil. This unique pressing is only available in limited quantities and best consumed early to enjoy its unique flavour.
The olive pressing season varies from year to year but tends to run from March to June. If you are in Franschhoek enquire at reception to see how we produce extra virgin olive oil by coming and doing a tour of the mill.
Olive Oil Produced by the Sun
Producing Olive Oil with modern equipment is an energy-intensive process. The machines use a lot of electricity and with this in mind the Franschhoek Olive Oil Company invested significantly in solar technology to power our mill and maintain our storage facilities. The system dedicated to the olive mill generates in excess of 12 Megawatts a year which is far more than needed to power the mill and the storage rooms. The excess power is used to further reduce the carbon footprint of the farm.