GLOSSARY of EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE
Here is a simple but complete glossary: with all the meanings of the terms that describe Italian organic extra virgin olive oil.
Here is a simple but complete glossary: with all the meanings of the terms that describe Italian organic extra virgin olive oil.
The qualities of Italian extra virgin olive oil are complex sensations, a mixture of tactile-olfactory-tasting elements that are found on tasting and that give immediate positive sensations of naturalness and well-being. The qualities are identified by the panel test, that is the joint and anonymous tasting of samples by a group of tasters admitted to a list of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Bitterness: bitterness is definitely a gustatory characteristic. Perceptible on the tongue, bitterness is a very important quality of an oil because it certifies that it comes from healthy olives, green and not yet very pitted. An oil can be more or less bitter, but a note of this type is always very appreciable.
Fruity: this is an element of classification of oils as well as an appreciated quality. It is a sensation of smell-taste typical of a healthy fruit. It is distinguished in different degrees of intensity: from green fruity to ripe fruity, in many nuances.
Fruitiness is matched to special flavors such as: apple, hay, grass, artichoke, thistle, tomato…
Almond: it is a flavor which can be perceived in two ways: it can remind fresh almond or dry and healthy almond. Usually the sensation is more of an aftertaste which remains on the tongue and palate after the contact with oil.
Paste: this is a real and proper tactile sensation, in the mouth it is as if one feels a fullness of the texture of the oil, a full bodied consistency, also visible by shaking the bottle/container containing it.
Roundness: it is a complex element which refers to the persistence of the overall sensation. An oil is round when its flavor/flavor remains constant from the beginning to the end of tasting.
Spicy: it is an oil which stimulates and activates some receptors of the oral mucosa and tongue. It is a sensation which is often connected to the fruity and herbaceous ones and it is a sign of being in front of a fresh oil, obtained from green olives, healthy and not yet (or just barely) ripened. The sensation of spiciness is also a proof of the presence of many polyphenols in the oil, molecules that promote wellbeing by inhibiting cellular oxidation. The more the olive is ripe, the less an oil will be spicy and less rich in favorable active principles.
According to the organic farming production specification, our olive groves are grown without resorting to synthetic products, we practice grassing, we minimize the tillage of the soil and its depth and we protect biodiversity in each form.
We fertilize the soil with organic fertilizer and leave the wild herbs and pruning residues in the field to enrich the soil with organic matter and limit the loss of water from the soil. Irrigation is not provided and, for the control of diseases and pests, products permitted by the organic farming specification are used.
A blend of oils from different cultivars, matched and joined together to create a new and unique fragrance.
Here, in the language of professional oil tasters, what are the sensations that can be found in extra virgin olive oil: the pleasant ones (strengths) but also the unpleasant ones (defects).
Here they are in detail.
Cold pressing is a mechanical method for extracting vegetable oils: it is carried out cold and does not involve any chemical treatment. It is the only method that allows you to obtain the highest quality extra virgin olive oil in accordance with the rules of the EEC.
This is how we produce our oil, through these stages in the mill:
– harvesting by hand or with fall facilitators
– extraction and centrifugation
The best oil mills today are the most modern, continuous cycle ones. They allow the fruit to be processed quickly, cold and at a constant and controlled temperature: this has the enormous and valuable advantage of preserving the hygiene and all the organoleptic characteristics of the oil.
Once the mill was made of stone, or rather granite, and consisted of mullers (stone wheels) that rotated and crushed the olives. It was a fascinating process but not feasible today because of the risks of oxidation, heating and hygiene that it brings with it.
This is the first step in the processing of olives and follows the washing phase. The crushing is the moment in which the olives (drupes) are broken for the first time thanks to a system of hammers or knives, and is the instant in which most of the aromas are released which will then be found in the tasting phase.
It is a cultivated variety of olive. In Italy there are over 500 cultivars which are often indigenous and typical of an area or territory. Our country is the only one in the world that boasts such a large and diversified varietal heritage.
Each cultivar has different organoleptic characteristics that make the final product different in terms of aromas and scents.
The defects of Italian organic extra virgin olive oil are many and different. They are identified by some tests, called panel tests, and they have to do with the smell of the oil as well as with its taste and color.
Winey/vinegary: it is an oil that has a smell reminiscent of wine and vinegar. It is a defect connected to the beginning of an aerobic fermentation process due to olives of poor quality (or damaged or overripe) or that have waited too long before being processed, maybe in unsuitable storage conditions.
Cucumber: it is a typical smell of oils which are closed in hermetic containers for too long, for example in tins.
Cooked or overcooked: this is a typical smell of an oil which has undergone an excessive or prolonged heating during the extraction process, for example in the phase of thermo-mixing.
Sweet: sweet is an oil which, without having a sugary taste, does not let the important attributes of bitterness and pungency stand out in the tasting. An oil which is a little subdued, one could say.
Woody: characteristic odor of oils which are generated by dry olives, which have undergone prolonged drought conditions.
Coarse: more than an olfactory or gustatory smell, this defect has to do with an oral tactile sensation which shows it to be dense and pasty, like old oil.
Damp wood: this is a typical smell of oil which is generated by olives which have undergone a freezing process on the plant.
Lubricating: tactile sensation of excessive greasiness, reminiscent of grease, mineral oil.
Metallic: it is an oil that has a hint reminiscent of metal, iron. This is a defect of an oil that stays too much in contact with metal surfaces during processing steps.
Sludge/Heat: This is a terrible defect. Very unpleasant and caused by anaerobic fermentative reactions caused by organic sediments and sludge which remain in the vegetation water or in the oil if it is not properly filtered or decanted. This is a typical defect of extraction plants which are not properly washed at the end of each processing.
Moldy-humidity: this is a smell which reminds a humid smell, such as the one of a cellar for example. It is characteristic of oils resulting from the pressing of olives which have developed abundant fungi and yeasts, often because they were left in humid environments for a long time.
Rancid: is a negative smell found in oils which have not been properly preserved, that is sheltered from light sources, from any source of heat and sheltered from contact with air.
Brine: typical smell/taste of oils extracted from olives which are not fresh, but preserved in brine.
Sparto: this is a characteristic smell of an oil obtained from a plant to which they have just replaced the fiscoli, that is the filtering disks of the presses that still have a new smell.
Earth: this is a smell of an oil which derives from olives dirty with earth, muddy or not properly washed.
Worm: flavor typical of oils which have been generated from olives affected by olive fly larvae.
Scientific name of the fruit of olive: actually it is a term which is also valid for apricots and peaches and for those fruits having an external skin (membranous epicarp), a pulp (fleshy mesocarp), a stone (endocarp) which contains one or two seeds.
This is an operation to be done with a decanter, that is the instrument used to extract oil immediately after gramolatura. It is a real centrifuge of horizontal type studied for the extraction of extra virgin olive oil, which is able to discharge simultaneously and separately 3 elements: oil, pomace and vegetation water.
These elements separate naturally due to their different densities and what comes out of the centrifugal separator is oil ready for consumption. It is still a bit opaque because it contains microscopic solid residues (of pulp and stones) in suspension which, however, will settle on the bottom and leave it clear and transparent.
EXTRA-VIRGIN OIL: by law, extra-virgin oil can be defined as oil obtained directly from the processing of olives and only by mechanical means and that has not undergone any treatment other than washing, centrifugation, decanting and filtration.
The extra virgin olive oil is the oil to the highest quality level of all olive production. To be called extra-virgin, it must have a maximum acidity (i.e. a quantity, expressed in grams, of oleic acid per 100 grams of oil) of 0.8% and must be free of defects. Our company produces only extra virgin olive oil. The residue of the processing is disposed of.
VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – which our company does not produce – is the oil obtained with the same working processes of extra virgin olive oil but it can have a maximum acidity of 2% and it is allowed to have slight defects.
Olive oil – which our company does not produce – is an oil having a maximum acidity of 1% and is obtained by blending refined olive oils and virgin olive oils (with a maximum acidity of 3.3%).
Olive pomace oil – which our company does not produce – is obtained by mixing refined olive pomace oil (obtained, that is, from pomace through the use of chemical solvents) with virgin oil having a maximum acidity of 1%.
After all the processing steps it may happen that the oil is cloudy. This indicates that the product has particles of water in suspension and other small impurities. Filtering serves to eliminate these particles and to create clear oils which will then have a longer life than unfiltered ones.
Immediately after the pressing, here is the kneading, that is the process that provides for the mixing of the paste obtained from the pressing. Kneading that mixture means to cause, finally, the breaking of the natural emulsion that exists between the water and oil contained in the olives favoring, thus, the separation between the two elements. This phase lasts between 20 and 40 minutes.
This time is important because this phase cannot last too little, otherwise the risk is that the oil does not separate from the water and remains trapped in the liquid which is then discarded, nor too long, because it would subject the paste to excessive contact with the air oxidizing it and damaging all the nutritional elements.
The olives are harvested by hand or with facilitators of fall as combs, sticks or with means for shaking. The collection takes place in the months of October and November.
The olives are collected in aerated baskets and immediately transported to the mill after they are processed within 4/5 hours of collection.
This term indicates the sensory analysis carried out on a sample of oil by a group of expert tasters (panel) regularly enrolled in a regional list.
The panel test method was introduced by EEC Reg. 2568/91 and modified by EEC Reg. 796/2002; the panel is made up of a number of people not inferior to 8 to which is added 1 panel leader as coordinator of all tasting operations. The method provides that during each session each taster compiles, for each oil under examination, a special evaluation form expressing a judgment on the presence and intensity of the merits (bitter, fruity, spicy) and any defects (rancid, metallic, mold, etc.).
They are the antioxidant heritage of exra virgin olive oil; they are compounds that are able to attract atoms of free oxygen and making with them a reaction of oxidation-reduction, allowing the oil to be preserved over time – moreover, the same function they play in our body by helping to reduce free radicals and to maintain the oxygenation of tissues!
But that’s not all: polyphenols give oil, besides nutritional characteristics, also organoleptic peculiarities which are also an important parameter of quality. For example, an oil rich in polyphenols, alive and healthy also has the quality of being slightly bitter and spicy. When an oil is neither bitter nor spicy, it may mean that the quantity of polyphenols it contains is reduced, maybe because of the advanced state of ripeness of the olives with which it is produced. The level of polyphenols contained in the oil is influenced by many factors: for example by the cultivar, the harvesting period and the degree of veraison, sweetness and ripeness of the fruit, the accuracy or speed of the extraction process etc.
Tasting an oil is a unique experience that allows you to grasp the characteristics that we do not usually perceive during a normal meal. To taste an oil, there is a procedure to follow: it is not easy the first time but it is always worth starting, trying and experimenting.
So, first of all it is necessary to activate all the gustatory and olfactory sensory functions and then do this: after having poured a small amount of oil into a glass, it is covered with a saucer to close the mouth of the glass and retain the aromas that are give off.
Now, holding the glass in your hands and shaking it slowly, you heat the oil a little with the temperature of your hands and then you discover it: now you smell it by taking slow and deep inhalations. Once this phase, which is the olfactory examination, is completed, you start immediately, without losing the inhaled aromas, with the gustatory one: a small amount of oil is introduced into the mouth and chewed (without swallowing it) by pressing the tongue against the palate, taking care to introduce air from the sides of the mouth keeping the teeth tightly closed. Through short and repeated (noisy!) Aspirations, you will be able to magically perceive the bitter, spicy, fruity or all the other attributes of the oil tasted. And with time and continuous experience, the pleasure of tasting will grow as well as one’s inclination to the perception of different sensations.
In this very first phase of processing in the mill, the olives are cleaned of residues of branches and leaves by means of a powerful fan and then with water over a vibrating grid.