Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I can write a book about olive oils and was lucky enough to spend a day in Tuscany picking and pressing olive oil on a small organic estate. I have also attended an olive oil tasting course with a leading oil master in London. Olive oil is a huge reason why I love cooking and I can’t imagine how I would make food taste good without it. Like wine, the flavour of the oil depends on the variety, the climate, the soil, how it was harvested and the processing method.
What is Extra Virgin? For an oil to be classified as extra virgin olive oil it needs be low in acidity (1% or less) and a high rating (6.5 or more) for organoleptic qualities – meaning how good it smells, tastes and looks. If an oil only scores 3.5 or 4 on the organoleptic scale and has an acidity of 3%, it would qualify as a virgin oil rather than extra virgin. I don’t differentiate between my oils and only cook and dress with extra virgin. Because I use olive oil so much I tend to buy organic from Blue Sky Organics, a locally produced olive oil that is grown and harvested without any chemicals.
Top tip: You can cook with a modestly priced olive oil and save the more expensive oils for dressing and finishing.
We will discuss my love of olive oil more during a Kitchen Cleanse session (if you are interested in booking one) but you are looking for the following words on the label: extra virgin olive oil, small estate, cold extracted. I like it when it’s picked, processed and bottled the same estate. Good olive oils are from Tokara, Gabrielskloof, Morgenster, Willow Creek and Olive Branch Deli that has a fantastic olive oil supply. The owner Ommy is also very knowledgeable.
STORAGE: Look for a dark bottle, store away from the sun and never next to the oven in a cupboard.
Out of interest: variety vs varietal
Variety can refer to either the grape itself (Malbec, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris), or to the style or kind of wine, as in red, white, or sparkling, etc. Varietal is used to describe a wine made from a single variety of grape. So, a glass of Chardonnay would be a varietal wine, made from Chardonnay variety grapes. The same goes for olives and olive oil.