Learn about olive oil
The olive tree is one of the most characteristic elements of the Mediterranean regions. It prefers temperate and loves calcareous, stony, permeable grounds especially in the hills and with climates ranging from sub-tropical to humid. To produce a high quality oil, the timing and manner of harvesting are crucial since they affect the quality and quantity of oil.
In order not to compromise the quality of fruit and not to ruin the trees, the traditional method of harvesting by hand (picking) is the ideal system.
As for the harvesting, also the transport to the mill must preserve the integrity of the olives; it is important that the olives are well ventilated and storedin containers with perforated walls and brought to the press no more than two or three days after their harvest.
The subsequent transformation into olive oil is done bytwo mechanical cycles, the traditional discontinuous cycleand the continuous cycle, completely mechanized.
The discontinuous cycle is thetraditional olive oil processing, where olives and their cores are crushed by the mills (the stone wheels). This extraction cycle is renown as the discontinuous one, because of the not entirely mechanized phases that require long processing times. It has the advantage of not subjecting the olives to excessive mechanical stress or to a temperature increase of the dough.
During thecontinuous cycle, however, olives are pressed quickly from hammer crushers or rotating discs. The dough is heated to facilitate the condensation of the olive oil and to avoid compromising the quality of the oil and to preserve the “cold pressed”feature (the temperature of the dough should not exceed 27 °C).
For the olive oil storage we recommend the use of steel containers, hermetically sealed.We recommend dark bottles to protect the oil from the air and the light for bottling. Olive oil should be stored in a dry and cool place, where the temperature is between 12 °C and 18 °C.
01/ Classification and nutritional facts
Virgin olive oil is produced from the fruit of the olive tree solely using mechanical and other physical processes that do not alter its composition. It is classified by law in categories that consider its acidity, expressed in grams of oleic acid per 100 grams of oil, its organoleptic properties, reviewed by a panel of tasters, and production techniques adopted. Here’s the classification of virgin olive oils that are produced for consumption.
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is a superior quality product. It’s produced by pressing olives after they’ve been washed, decanted, centrifuged and filtered. The acidity, expressed as oleic acid, is less than 0.8 grams per 100 grams with organoleptic score equal to or greater than 6.5.
- VIRGIN OLIVE OIL has an acidity level of up to 2 g per 100 g and organoleptic score equal to or greater than 5.5.
- OLIVE OIL is a compound of virgin olive oils and refined olive oils, or olive oils that have undergone a chemical process aimed at correcting defects, chemical and organoleptic properties, and whose acidity does not exceed 1 g per 100 g.
- SANSA OLIVE OIL is the oil obtained by blending virgin olive oil with refined olive pomace oil, the latter obtained from the pressing and chemical treatment of the peels, waste of flesh and fragments of pits that remain from the first pressing of the olives. It has a free acidity content expressed as oleic acid, not exceeding 1.5 g per 100 g.
Nutritional properties of olive oil
The nutritional composition of olive oil is strongly influenced by the area of cultivation of olive trees, the type of variety, the weather conditions and systems of production.
90% of olive oil is made from lipids or triglycerides, mainly present in the form of liquid oils. Despite this, triglycerides are characterized by 15% saturated fat acids and 85% of monounsaturated and polyunsaturatedfat acids.
Olive oil is also extremely rich in hydrocarbons such as squalene (characterized by obvious antioxidant properties), terpenes (which give the typical fruity aroma oil), sterols and carotenoids, chlorophyll (responsible for the green-yellowish oil color), vitamin A, vitamin E or tocopherol (considered as an excellent antioxidant), waxes, resins, and other minor components. The refined olive oil is richer in hydrocarbons derived from solvent residues that are poorer in carotenoids, chlorophyll and in part from tocopherols and polyphenols, as the chemical process to which it is subjected tends to remove or to destroy these noble and important compounds for the body. The newly extracted oil has a yellowish-green color, a fruity and aromatic smell, a sweetish taste, it is greasy to the touch, insoluble in water.
02/ How to recognize extra virgin quality olive oil?
The Italian heritage of olive-groves boasts several varieties of olive trees that are identified with the region of origin and allow you to appreciate the uniqueness and tradition of agronomic practices adopted in each region.
The quality certifications are designed to protect this heritage, encouraging certified farmers and meeting the demands of quality, safety and excellence demanded by consumers.
Organic Olive Oil - Law: Reg. CE 834 / 2007
Organic oil is a guarantee of the product obtained by production methods that respect the environmental and human principles and that excludes the use of synthetic chemical and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
PDO - Law: CE Reg. 510/2006
The Protected Designation of Origin is the mark of origin attributed to oils whose entire production is carried out in a defined geographical Italian area and whose characteristics depend exclusively on that production area. The geographical environment includes both the natural factors (raw materials, environmental conditions) and human factors (production techniques and processing) so as to ensure a unique olis, irreproducible outside the original area.
PGI - PGI - Law: CE Reg. 510/2006
The Protected Geographical Indication is the attributed due tooils which only one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in a defined geographical area. Its quality or reputation can be attributed exclusively from the same geographic area, both for natural and for human factors.
The farmer who produces with PDO or PGI is protected from counterfeiting throughout Europe but must adhere to a specification and respect a strict monitoring made by independent certification bodies authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The most involved senses in the perception of the organoleptic characteristics of food are taste, smell and sight, and hearing and touch often play a secondary role. The different organoleptic properties are evaluated through the five senses.
Sight: – appearance – color – form
Touch and hearing: – consistency – fluid – viscosity – friability
Smell: – aroma
Taste: – taste
Smell and taste: – flavor
Considering the organoleptic characteristics of oil a panel test is used to assess sensory perception and provide judgment according to standardized rules: a group of professional tasters evaluates a set of positive and/or negative attributes of virgin olive oil with a panel scheme.