Oil olives (cultivars) grow differently in different regions, and give rise to specific characteristics to the oil they produce. We can recognize these properties in the smell, in the taste and also in the overall quality.
How many times have you heard, “fruity extra virgin olive oil”, “bitter extra virgin olive oil”, “spicy extra virgin olive oil”? These are all attributes that extra virgin olive oil can take on depending on the region of production, the type of processing, the quality and variety of olives and the moment of the harvest. The place of production is very important because it involves a set of unique conditions, such as: climate, soil, altitude etc…
Each extra virgin olive oil has its own flavor and a particular intensity of taste. To this are added olfactory notes and gustatory hints that may recall the fruitiness of green olives and other fragrances such as fresh grass, freshly cut fields, artichokes or thistles and more.
But on what do these aromas and flavors depend?
The first answer is to be found in the variety of olives from which the oil is extracted.
Fattoria Montecchio’s EVO oil comes from several cultivars, so from the union of several varieties of olives. The varieties of cultivar that we use are the “typical” of the Tuscany region, namely Frantoio, Leccino and Moraiolo, and the olive oil produced from these varieties of olives is characterized by a rich, fruity, spicy and extremely intense flavor.
Bitter and spicy extra virgin olive oil is sometimes perceived by consumers in a negative way, however it is important to know that when prevailing hints of bitter, spicy, fruity and a full-bodied sensation, surely we are dealing with a real extra virgin olive oil.
The characteristics of bitter and spicy are due to the presence of polyphenols in the oil. These natural antioxidants are the main responsible for the infinite properties of olives. The more an oil is bitter and spicy, the more it is rich in polyphenols.
Polyphenols contain a high amount of nutritional properties capable of performing an antioxidant action, which is essential to fight free radicals, prevent cellular aging and reduce the risk of cancer.
Among the health properties of polyphenols we find:
- Antioxidant; anti-allergic; antiviral; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial
- Among the qualitative properties of polyphenols we find the increase of preservability.
These components of the oil protect it from oxidative damage so that the oil does not go rancid.
But be careful! Polyphenols are sensitive to light and temperature and for this reason it is fundamental to keep the oil in a proper way, away from light and heat.
What are the positive characteristics of a good extra virgin olive oil?
- Bitter: It is a taste present in the cold extraction, in certain varieties of olives and according to the time of harvesting. It can be more or less intense, but the important thing is that it is balanced.
- Spicy: sensation to the taste of a hot pepper, very pleasing, of average persistence and balanced with the other flavors.
- Herbaceous: taste reminiscent of freshly mowed grass.
- Fruity: olfactory note recalling the smell of ripe fruit, green apple and green olives.
- Vegetal: taste and smell recalling aromatic herbs with an aftertaste of artichoke.
Tuscany has long been regarded as one of the best olive oil producing regions in the world due to a dry climate. Hand picking is still prevalent and usually begins in mid-October when the olives begin to take color; cold pressing must be done immediately after harvesting in order to keep intact and unaltered the contents of vitamins and antioxidants as well as to safeguard the aroma.
Oil is the most used food in cooking for thousands of years, without it would be almost impossible to enjoy the food of our table.
So you would use Fattoria Montecchio Extra Virgin olive oil for example:
- On top of bread (try to toast your bread and rub some garlic on it, maybe add a bit of salt and bathe it in oil). You can also add tomatoes and basil, and then we call it bruschetta.
- On salads, of course. In Italy, we don’t use salad dressings. All we need is an excellent cold press olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe a few drops of juice from a fresh lemon, or a good wine vinegar
- Garnishing every dish, as for example to finish off a plate of pasta, or a soup or grilled meats, vegetables or fish – just drizzle the olive on top and you needn’t use any other sort of sauce.
Unconsciously, when we use extra virgin olive oil, we not only add a great flavor to our dishes, but we also give ourselves an extra bit of health.