Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat around - it promotes cardiovascular health, it works as an antioxidant, it reduces inflammation and supports your immune system, to cite just a few of its proven health benefits. In order to obtain and maximize these beneficial effects though, you need to consume good extra virgin olive oil. And that is becoming increasingly difficult in a market dominated by few major players that are mostly concerned with offering the lowest price rather than a quality product.
How to tell then if the olive oil you’re using is good quality? Read on to find out.
First of all, know how to taste it. Always remember: to be a good quality product, the olive oil must taste similar to the fruit from which it’s made; therefore, you should be able to distinguish a hint of olive. If you can’t, then the oil isn’t good.
If you want to get even a bit more technical, you can proceed as a professional taster would do: take a bit of oil and place it in a coffee cup; warm it by covering the cup with the palm of your hand; this will help release the flavors of the oil, and reveal potential bad odors. Olive oils have a range of flavors, from fresh-cut grass to citrus, from artichokes to herbs, as well as aromas of ripe or green olive.
Then take a sip of the oil sucking a bit of air in your mouth with it; this helps release more flavors. Spread the oil around your palate and breathe through your nose, with your mouth closed. This will release more flavor notes. What you should feel mostly is a balance between a sweet, a bitter and a pungent-spicy component. If you feel a peppery sensation in the throat (it may even make you cough!), it’s a sign that the oil is good. If you taste rancidity, then the oil is defective.
If you think this is too much work or you fear your taste buds aren’t refined enough to tell the different flavors and nuances, a smart way to buy olive oil is to know who you’re buying it from. And no worries if you’re not in Italy and don’t personally know a local olive oil producer.
You can still buy olive oil almost directly from a producer in Italy thanks to Pomora, a U.K.-based olive tree adoption program that works with two award-winning producers of olive oil, Antonio from the southern region of Campania and Carmelo from Sicily.
Depending on how you like your olive oil, you can choose which olive tree to adopt: Antonio’s olives, of the ravece varietal, produce a robust and peppery oil, wonderfully complex; Carmelo’s olives, of the nocellara etnea varietal, grown on the volcanic soil of the lower slopes of Mount Etna, result in a creamy, buttery oil, with a great richness of flavor.
Once you’ve picked your tree and signed up with the program, you’ll receive an Adoption Pack with a certificate showing your tree and a booklet of information about your tree, the olive oil production process, the story of the grower and some recipes to make the most of your olive oil - which you’ll receive every three months (3 tins of Italian olive oil, each 250ml, regular and flavored).
By purchasing extra virgin olive oil through Pomora, you’ll also know that you’re helping these artisanal growers, essential to keep alive traditional and sustainable olive oil-making, stay in business: Pomora is committed to help growers have successful businesses by paying them a price higher than the general market, a price that helps them actually make a living. You’ll know that you’re supporting and sustaining in the long term those skills that may otherwise go lost in a market where large companies compete on the lowest price rather than the best quality product.
Extra virgin olive oil is not only beneficial to your health; it is also a pleasure and can really enhance the quality of your dishes. It’s a reflection of the land where it’s made, and the hard work that requires. Anyone passionate about Italy and good food will surely appreciate the values behind the Pomora olive oil Adoption program.
For more information about Pomora and how you can adopt your olive tree, visit the Pomora website.