- ARE THERE GREEN OR BLACK OLIVES IN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
- Unlike grapes, all olives are green when they start out. However, if they are allowed to mature on the tree they will all turn brown. Only milling green olives not allowed to ferment, and not ripe olives will you obtain the health benefits that extra virgin olive oil is famous for.
- IS THERE A 2ND OR 3RD PRESS?
- When checking out the labels of olive oil, you will notice two repeated statements: first press and cold pressed.
Fortunately, there are no second or third presses! This is banned by law, so there is only a single first press. Also, most of the finest extra virgins in the world are now milled a continuous method of using stainless steel blades or hammers to crush (or grind) the olives into a paste.
- WHAT ABOUT COOKING WITH EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
- Yes, you can cook with extra virgin olive oil! In fact, our 100% pure extra virgins have a flash point of over 425 degrees F.! When baking, sautéing, or frying, extra virgin olive oils have the ability to bring out and enhance the natural flavors of the foods you’re preparing. The high heat tends to reduce the aromatic qualities of your extra virgins however.
- WHAT ABOUT FILTERED VS UNFILTERED OLIVE OIL?
- The olive oil that comes out of the centrifuge at the end of the milling process is a mixture of oil, ground pulp and pits. In unfiltered oils, these may contribute a slight amount to taste and nutritional value. However, as time goes by these elements will definitely shorten the shelf life of the extra virgin due to increased fermentation. This will also diminish the health qualities of the extra virgins.
Now, there is an extra virgin olive oil that comes out of the mills early in the season, which is unfiltered and generally fantastic!
This may be equated to a Nuovo, as in wine, but it is understood that it be consumed in a short time.
- WHAT ARE POLYPHENOLS AND ANTIOXIDANTS?
Naturally occurring compounds found in fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea wine and cocoa (they are anti-inflammatory and scavenge free radicals).
Olive oil is made up mostly a monounsaturated fat, with polyunsaturated and saturated fats making up a small percentage. The ratio of polyunsaturated fats to monounsaturated fats is almost ideal, according to nutritionists.
Phenolic compounds in olive oil, which include: hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleocanthal, oleacin, oleuropein and a few others have been getting all the attention lately! The quality and quantity are affected by: cultivar, soil, sun and rain, ripeness of the fruit, storage time, oxidation, exposure to light and heat, and milling techniques.
There is a proportional relationship between the amount of polyphenols in EVO and the ability of the EVO to resist oxidation. Therefore, the higher the polyphenol level of the EVO, the greater the HEALTH BENEFITS!
These substances along with other antioxidants have been proven to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress, whose by-products damage blood cells, blood vessels and other cells throughout the body.
- WHAT DOES “COLD PRESSED” MEAN?
- "Cold Pressed” does not exist! In the modern mill the olive paste will get warm, and in fact may reach a temperature around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This is an absolute necessity because the biochemical reactions taking place produces enzymes that release the polyphenols and antioxidants we are all looking for in our extra virgin olive oil. This process is called “malaxation”, and in the mill it is a process, which is controlled by the producer using sophisticated equipment to ensure proper temperatures are maintained.
- WHAT IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
- Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and also the most expensive olive oil available. It is estimated that only 10% of the world’s production fits in this category. The oil should be free of defects, and be made from fresh olives and milled in the shortest number of hours after picking. The free fatty acid content can be no greater than 0.8%. This category is known to have the highest levels of polyphenols and antioxidants.
- WHAT ARE THE TASTE CHARACTERISTICS REFERRED TO BY FRUITY, BITTER AND SPICY?
Fruity: The aromas of olive oil are a very important part of its flavor. The aroma will vary depending on the cultivar and ripeness of the olive. When you first smell our extra virgins you will perceive the fruity aroma of fresh olives. This may make you think of fresh cut grass or artichoke and perhaps the olive fruit itself.
Once you take a sip of the oil (straight up), you will become aware of more fruity characteristics by closing your mouth and breathing out through your nose (this is called the “retronasal effect”).
Bitter: Bitterness is the 2nd positive attribute of our 100% pure extra virgin olive oils. This along with pepperiness is an acquired taste. It is helpful to think of our affinity for coffee, beer or even dark chocolate to see how we can appreciate this taste sensation. Also, this characteristic of the oil will make it a taste enhancer to the many foods we prepare. (Pairing is another subject.) The bitterness will vary with the cultivar of the olive. Keep in mind that Italy has over 600 cultivars or species, which makes it even more exciting to explore what oils may be found there. It is recognized on the surface of the tongue, so when you taste the oil make sure you let roll all over your tongue.
Spicy: This is a burning or peppery sensation perceived in the back of the throat. This is a very important positive characteristic, which is a chemical irritation caused by the oil’s polyphenol and antioxidant levels. The spicier, the higher the polyphenols and the better health benefit! These extra virgins must be paired with foods wisely to fully appreciate the quality of these super rich oils, which can enhance the flavors of many foods.
Note: for more details, please refer to our Blog posting from OLIVE OIL TIMES contributor, Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, “AN INTRODUCTION TO OLIVE OIL TASTING”.
- WHAT MAKES OUR OILS DIFFERENT FROM MANY OILS AVAILABLE IN THE U.S.?
- When Johnny and Louie set about to visit various stores in the U.S. that sell extra virgins, there seemed to be a great choice of oils. However, 90% of labeled extra virgin olive oils, may have very little or no scent, taste or flavor. When you get to taste them you realize that often times there are problems of rancidity and often the oils are made from olives that were not fresh at the time of milling. Our oils are all fresh, usually picked and milled within hours, assuring us of freshness, which is not just an idea, it is something you can smell and taste! Once you have tasted them, I think you will find that you are “hooked”!
- WHY BUY FROM EXTRA VIRGIN OLIO BY MADGE & LOUIE’S?
- At Extra Virgin Olio by Madge & Louie’s, you can be assured of the freshest and finest Italian 100% pure Extra Virgin Olive Oils, often times international award winners and strictly “the real thing”! We have cultivated relationships with our artisanal producers which allow us to ensure our consumers that their olives are picked and milled into oil within hours, packed in dark glass (often times with inert gas, argon or nitrogen to avoid oxidation). Nearly every person who has been on one of Johnny Madge’s Olive Oil Tour has asked for availability of the oils sampled to be sent back to the U.S. Now, Johnny has chosen his favorite oils and Extra Virgin Olio can deliver them to your door.
- WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
Olive Oil is a natural product, which will lose its flavor and aroma over time. However, when properly stored in a cool, dark place, olive oil can maintain its freshness for 2 years or longer. The real enemies of olive oil is oxygen and light, with light being the most damaging. When exposed to light, such as sitting on supermarket shelf for too long (even in dark glass),where the lights are always turned on, an oil will lose its fruity qualities becoming void of flavor and will taste flat or even rancid, especially if it was a lower quality oil to begin with.
Once a bottle is opened, you can count on having about 90 days before significant breakdown. Once again the oils with higher polyphenols will breakdown less.
There is no need to refrigerate your Extra Virgin Olive Oils.
- WHY ITALIAN?
Johnny Madge, our taster, international judge and olive oil sommelier, has lived in Italy over 39 years. Italy has over 600 species (cultivars) of olives and over the next few years we will get to know many of these: literally hundreds of different scents and flavors, just as with wine, to enjoy and experiment with.
Italy today, despite the issues of fraudulent oils is still the source of the worlds premier fine, Extra Virgin Olive Oils as was evident by the country's reaping the greatest number of awards throughout the world and recently here during the latest NEW YORK INTERNATIONALS OLIVE OIL COMPETITION in May 2021.
- WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “DEFECTS” WHEN TASTING EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
What do we mean by defects?
The most common, basically a fat that’s gone bad. Imparts a greasy feeling in your mouth (ie. crayons, putty or old nuts).
Fermentation without oxygen, found within the olive itself. Harvested olives not milled in a timely fashion. (fermented olives)
Defect from the storage of EVO. Oil in contact with sediment layer in the bottom of storage tanks. Again, fermentation without oxygen.
From moldy olives.
Smell coming from fermentation in the presence of oxygen.
- WHAT ABOUT ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OILS?
The fact that some of our Producers will offer organic extra virgin olive oil or not, will not affect the very high quality of the final product!
However, some of our clients feel more comfortable ordering from this line.(refer to Organic from the EVOO dropdown menu on the home page)
Keep in mind that the European Union has created regional standards for the use of pesticides in agriculture throughout the EU. These products must all be water soluble.
Regional certification in the home country (ie.Italy) and USDA organic standards will increase the cost of producing these extra virgins.