An Olive Oil Primer
What makes a high quality olive oil?
First, when olives are harvested from one region, there is more control over when to pick the olives and how soon they are crushed. Every olive is at first green, then becomes black. Galantino picks their olives at their medium stage of ripeness. The olives are picked only directly from the tree and never collected from the ground. The harvest begins in mid-October and goes through December.
The olives are crushed within 24 hours of harvesting to preserve the quality and integrity of the olives. All olives are crushed between granite stones. This process keeps the olive pulp cool and creates a higher quality oil. Herbs and citrus fruits are crushed with the olives to keep alive the aromas of nature. Every year an artisan comes to the mill to re-surface the grinding stones and make them rough again.
After this milling, a paste is formed. The oil that rises to the surface, before undergoing centrifugal separation, is the highest of quality. The top 2% is hand skimmed for the Affiorato extra virgin olive oil, or the “flower of the oil.”
The remaining olive paste goes into a centrifuge and at a low temperature, is cold extracted. Antioxidants remain higher with cold extraction. Cheap oil is heat extracted, destroyed flavor and valuable nutrients.
Olive oil will remain fresh for two years after bottling as long as it is kept in a cool, dark place with a closed cap.
How to taste olive oil:
- To truly taste an oil, pour it into a small glass cup and gently warm it with your hands.
- There are three elements to tasting olive oil.
- Color: Color is usually green or yellow. It is not important because it depends on the variety of olives.
- Smell: The oil should smell of nature; grass, almond, artichoke
- Taste: Take a few drops and breath in to push the oil to the back of the mouth. Take another sip. Fresh olives are bitter. A little bitterness is followed by some spice or heat then it scratches a bit in the throat. Fresh olive oil scratches more!
Galantino’s olive oils are all extra virgin and cold-pressed. There are three categories of flavor:
Delicate fruity, Medium fruity and Intense fruity. When using the oils in cooking, it is best to match the flavor of the dish to the oil. For example, a strong lentil soup can handle a medium or intense fruity oil. A filet of sole would be best suited to a delicate fruity or flavored oil.
Olive oil to me is like a fine wine. You develop a palate for the variations and then decide for yourself what pleases you. Have fun experimenting and don’t be afraid to taste outside the box!