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IS YOUR EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FRESH?

Fresh Harvests From Small Farms

 

So much has been written about extra virgin olive oil and its health benefits and the glory that it showers on food. Sometimes it gets rather complicated. The secret to the best olive oil is freshness and how you get that. Directly from harvest to your table. The secret? An olive oil where there is no interruption between harvesting the olives, when they are pressed and when the oil is delivered to you. Sounds simple? Well, so many roadblocks. 


Fortunately, we have a way to give you that guarantee in the lab. Doesn't sound very appetizing but it does offer the security that you are getting both the highest health opportunities as well as the best your kitchen can offer.
Be aware that olive oils are rarely grown or harvested in our part of the world. We can't grow olives here. They need hot and dry growing conditions. We have to rely on our importer who has relationships with small, local farms around the world. They are shipped to us in large containers directly from these small producers as close to harvest as possible.


Before anything is taken off a ship our oils are tested by a third party lab to guarantee what it promises. It doesn't happen often but even with all the checks in place we have discovered a shipment that tries to hide its less than perfect properties. And then it is rejected.


So here we go, the book on what makes our EVOOs the best you can find anywhere, with a guarantee of freshness unparalleled in the world of this precious food by conducting LAB testing. Our lab measures biophenols, peroxide content, free fatty oleic acids, and DAGS. If it all seems a little confusing, here's an easy way to think about them. 


The first part of making a fresh olive oil is to press the olives the same day they are harvested. Delaying pressing causes problems. Lengthening the time between harvest and pressing causes the oil to be less than fresh from the get-go. Sometimes you might see an Italian oil in your grocery store but it's very likely they are Spanish olives, who boast the largest industrial farms in the world, that are shipped to large processing locations in Italy and then branded as "Italian". That trucking delay alone can significantly reduce the viability as a truly fresh olive oil.


So we rely on the fresh harvests. That means we source them from the northern hemisphere in the winter and the southern hemisphere in the spring. It's a guarantee that all our oils when they are pressed and in our stores are fresh. Think of fresh the way you would a fresh citrus juice or a fresh veggie in your recipe. Both add health benefits and enhanced taste. Olive oil is like a fresh fruit juice. The longer it takes from harvest to your table, the more it degrades. 

 

The other major piece? The highest performers on our tests are single varieties of olives, or a special hybrids grown for that purpose, and not a casual mixing of two oils. And be aware of producers who press olives to squeeze more oil out of seasonal harvests, or over ripening the crop to produce more oil. These will inevitably produce a poorer quality oil, despite the producers boasting an extra olive oil equivalent. And yet, the producers can still brand their product as "extra virgin". 


Before continuing, bear in mind that there are no uniform olive oil testing regulations across North America that monitor these parameters to deliver an authentic extra virgin olive oil. Branding is not uniform, nor does it tell you what you're getting in your store bought bottle. Some of them do provide a seal or a sell-buy date. But there is nothing that can guarantee fresh parameters, proper processing or whether what's in the bottle is 100% extra virgin without lab testing. It's always best to go to the local source, like we do, especially when you can see with your own eyes, the proof of "fresh". 


And now the basics, the TESTING we post on our website on each of our fresh harvest olive oils is posted so that you know what we know and that what's on our shelves lives up to our promise, even when you can't taste them in our stores.

          1. BIOPHENOLS (antioxidants): These are plant-based phtyochemicals that naturally occur in the olive. The higher the number, the higher the positive health properties by keeping free radicals in check and subsequent inflammation. And fresh olive oil by definition is as close to the harvest as you can get. 
          2. FFA (free fatty acids) are tested once the olives have been crushed into olive oil. The maximum FFA in extra virgin olive oil must be below 1.0%. Ours are always below that number. Over that number indicates the olive oil is of poor quality either from damage during growth including over-ripening, insect infestation, overheating during pressing, or a delay between harvest and crush.  
          3. OLEIC ACID: An omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol. These fats help develop and maintain the body’s cells and contribute to lowering oxidation which can prevent the deterioration of the body into chronic disease. We do not sell any oils below 75% free fatty acids, more than four times other grain-based oils.
          4. DAGS (Diacylglycerols): The perfect indicator of the freshness of olive oil. The higher the number the fresher/younger it is. 
          5. PEROXIDE (PV): Peroxide occurs when the unsaturated fatty acids react with oxygen, which causes the olive oil to become musty or rancid. It occurs naturally in olive oil but can be accelerated by high temperatures, light, and oxygen exposure. It's the reason that no heat is applied to olives during pressing and processing.
          6. PPP (Pyropheophytins): It's a measure of the degradation of chlorophyll. The lower the PPP the fresher the oil.

 TESTING PROPERTIES: WHAT WE MEASURE