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bleudauvergne

Olive Oils -

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Hi Pamela -

We recently here in France have seen a surge of great new small press olive oils, some of the most wonderful coming from Italy. They are lovingly presented by French shop owners much in the manner of wines. We compare and contrast samples from any number of presses, and all are available for sale by the bottle. I know that Olive oil, being an important national product consumed all over Italy, is of course readily available to everyone where you are, but can you tell me about how this product is seen and consumed on a day to day basis where you live? Do Italians go out olive oil tasting like the French do?

Thank you for sharing your time with us this week.

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Yes, of course - Italians are even more obsessed with olive oil than the French.

We like to say that, short of cappuccino, olive oil goes on everything.

I am from Tuscany, but every region has its choice oils - I personally love the fresh cut grass smell of very young olive oil, and the fresher the better.

Old olive oil is only good for lighting church lamps, or for gresing door hinges.

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Out here where I am, most people use local oil. Like maremosso, we are hooked on the herbal, peppery flavor of a fresh-pressed Tuscan oil. Equally good, but so different, are the oils from other regions. The further south you go, the more mature the olive, hence the fruitier flavor and more golden oil.

Lately, I have been concerning myself more about the methods used to get the oil. Last year was an olive disaster (yield, 10 liters of oil!), this year looks slightly better. But two years ago we picked 9 quintale (900 kgs, yield 150 liters) and took them to two different frantoio's. One was the traditional stone ground, pulp pressed on mats in a hydraulic press, then centrifuged. The other half went to a frantoio that uses a method called sinolea, where steel blades macerate the olives, then the oil is extracted as metal discs are dipped into the paste; the oil sticks to the metal and is removed with scrapers in a continuous process.

The difference in the two oils was stunning. The traditional stone method was fruitier and and spicier with that hot burning sensation in the back of the throat that we are all addicted to. The sinolea method was refined, delicate. Both seemed to have their own unique uses in my house, but several months later, I found that their differences weren't so well-defined.


Edited by pamela in tuscany (log)

Pamela Sheldon Johns

Italian Food Artisans

www.FoodArtisans.com

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Does any of your oil get old? Ifso, what do you do with it? Do you use it? For what? Throw it out? At what point is it considered unusable?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Stored properly - in a cool, dark place - olive oil can last for years. But the flavor and quality declines every day from the time it is pressed. That is why you want to buy oil in its first year (all italian exports have exp. dates on them).

Luckily I was a bit greedy with my harvest of 2002...when I got only 10 litres last year, at least I still had cooking oil from 2002 to use. When my ten litres was gone, I bought fresh oil from my frantoio for the table.

Unusable would be obvious. Poor handling causes the oil to be rancid, recognized by a highly detectable odor.


Pamela Sheldon Johns

Italian Food Artisans

www.FoodArtisans.com

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I live in India six months of the year.

About 10 years ago I imported 100 liters of good olive oil from Italy. A pharmaceutical company helped me repack the oil in suitable 1 liter tins, in order to better preserve it for the years to come.

I gave away a lot to friends who were very grateful.

I still have about a dozen tins. Everytime I get back to India I expect the olive oil to have hopelessly soured - but so far, so good. It certainly doesn't have the aroma of fresh oil, and forget the cut grass experience, but it's still soooo much better than the locally available olive oil!

I keep it in my cellar, away from light and heat.

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