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malcolmjolley

Olive Oil Definitions & Labeling Standards

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I wonder what constitutes "substantial processing."

Since there are very few olive groves in the US (if indeed there are any at all), I would imagine that any of the major US olive oil producers -- like Baltimore's Pompeian -- would "substantially process" the oil they get.[...]

Is there something special that differentiates a grove from some other type of stand of olive trees? I ask that because I thought that a lot of olives were grown in California. Is that untrue?

Thank you for the lesson on US olive production and the clue on terminology.

So what is the proper term to refer to a stand of olive trees? I used "grove" from the similarity I imagined with citrus fruit trees, stands of which (well, mainly oranges, but I think lemons and grapefruit too) are called "groves".


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I ask that because I thought that a lot of olives were grown in California. Is that untrue?

More California Olive info

California is primarily a table olive industry producing the "California black ripe" table olive. This is a product unique to California and is unlike the Mediterranean styles.

As for California Olive Oil, the grade is certified by the California Olive Oil Council.

We follow the same guidelines as the International Olive Oil Council in Madrid.
(from the California Olive Oil Council website FAQ)

Is this the "Foxes guarding the hen house" or are they really following the European standards?


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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France, Greece, Italy and Spain are all part of the EU, so there is no reason to list them individually.....

Oops, I speed-read right over "the EU" in your original post, thereby creating confusion where there was none.

Never mind.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I wonder what constitutes "substantial processing."

Since there are very few olive groves in the US (if indeed there are any at all), I would imagine that any of the major US olive oil producers -- like Baltimore's Pompeian -- would "substantially process" the oil they get.[...]

Is there something special that differentiates a grove from some other type of stand of olive trees? I ask that because I thought that a lot of olives were grown in California. Is that untrue?

Thank you for the lesson on US olive production and the clue on terminology.

So what is the proper term to refer to a stand of olive trees? I used "grove" from the similarity I imagined with citrus fruit trees, stands of which (well, mainly oranges, but I think lemons and grapefruit too) are called "groves".

We generally called it an "olive grove", but "olive orchard" is also heard, and correct. Same for citrus or any other stand of fruit or nut trees. While "grove" can be any stand of trees, "orchard" specifies that the trees are cultivated for a fruit or nut crop. We tended to refer to the "orange grove" and "peach orchard" but I think that's mostly because the opposites ("orange orchard" and "peach grove") don't trip off the tongue quite as easily.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Things Olives was my families whole life before we immigrated to the U.S.

I was 15 when I left Lebanon, so my experience with Olives and Olive oil was brief. I don't know anything about Oleic Acid. My memories however are deeply rooted.

Working the Olives was a family affair. As children we dreaded the season which starts in October. It meant a lot of work.

My village, Deirmimas is the one in the center. Most of what you see are Olive trees.

gallery_39290_2072_312929.jpg

As you approach the town from the bottom.

gallery_39290_2072_985276.jpg

Yours truly enjoying the view. The first photo was taken from the mountain across.

gallery_39290_2072_927043.jpg

This is what you see.

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Young Olive trees invading the front yard.

gallery_39290_2072_342823.jpg

The ground has to be plowed twice a year using a pair of Oxen (tractors are too big to pass under the trees) and looks like this when it's time to harvest.

gallery_39290_2072_813005.jpg

The process starts by hand picking the olives that have fallen to the ground. A back breaking job, one I used to run from. These olives are bruised and discolored. They are pressed for oil which is only used to make soap.

After all the fallen olives have been gathered, sheets are placed under the trees and branches are shaken or beaten using 10' sticks. The green olives are separated from the leaves before they are transported to the press using these.

gallery_39290_2072_843562.jpg

This is one of three presses in the village. The only one still standing but abandoned.

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The column hides the single cylinder diesel engine which I used to hand-crank started. I loved hanging around the press. It was a mechanical marvel. A huge flywheel from the engine ran all the machines in the press via a network of pulleys and leather or cloth belts.

gallery_39290_2072_1086766.jpg

The crusher on the left is a modern addition. A pile of crushed olive paste would be placed in the middle of a hemp blanket, several of which are placed in the press on the right. The bottom of the press rises pressing against the wooden block on top. The oil/water pours into the porcelain lined pool below.

gallery_39290_2072_1274618.jpg

These are the crushers (now used as decorations) used in my time. About 5' tall. The clay vats were for storing and aging the oil in the cellar.

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They spun around in a large 12' metal vat in this configuration.

gallery_39290_2072_38434.jpg

This perhaps is the most sophisticated machine. The centrifuge separates oil from water. The belt that drove it is visible on the floor coming through the square opening.

gallery_39290_2072_472049.jpg

Oil came out of the nozzle on the left. We'd be waiting with hot fresh bread that came off something like this.

gallery_39290_2072_92678.jpg

This is the only process that our olive oil goes through.

Contrary to what Bobby Flay or Emeril say, Black Olives grow on Black Olive trees.

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Nothing short of amazing photography .. the coolest being the juxtaposition of your shoes and the ancient olive press ... my goodness, that is some photo!

Much appreciate your work on this thread!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Thanks Melissa and Chris. It's easy to photograph beautiful models. Glad you enjoyed them.

The purpose of the post is to show that there are only two kinds of Olive Oil. One you make soap with and one you use as a condiment. Olive oil is not not used to fry anything. Well.. maybe scrambled eggs. Scramble some eggs in some good olive oil on low heat, salt, leave them a little soft. Close your eyes and taste. Do you taste cheese?

I cringe when I hear anyone say EVOO, specially Ray Ray who always goes on to explain the acronym. I wonder what EVCO, EXTRA VIRGIN CORN OIL looks and tastes like? I've seen imported EVOO lighter in color than Mazola. Do they make that from yellow olives?

Olive oil is very unstable. Brand new, it's milky green in color and bitter, best used for seasoning, drizzled on a loaf of hot Focaccia. Two months later aged in terracotta vats, you have real good olive oil. Army green but clear. Pour it on Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Labneh, Zaatar, Manaeesh, Fool Moudammas, raw Kibby. Unfortunately it's down hill from there. Olive oil gets sweeter as it ages. You ever had a sweet olive? In Lebanon, one year old olive oil is worth nothing. You can deep fry with it. :biggrin:

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In practice I have yet to see a bottle of 'Italian' olive oil that has the word "Tunisia (et al.)" on it.

Actually it's quite easy to find, at least in the US. If you read the fine print on certain labels, you'll find oils from Tunisia/Greece/Spain, & perhaps even Italy, that have been blended & bottled in Italy.

Given what's been happening to olive harvests in recent years, this trend isn't surprising.

Much to my surprise and education, superior quality olive oils in the UK are extensively label in regards origin and process. In the cheaper catagorie of extra virgin oli oils I have yet to see any information regarding ultimate origin of the olives/oil in Tunisia. Most likely this is my fault, but how does one read the label in the UK to determine origin?

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ChefCrash, that is a fabulous post. Thank you so much for giving us the tour! It's interesting to see how much the landscape looks like certain parts of Central California. I shouldn't really be surprised; they're both Mediterranean climates.

I do have one small correction to make, with apologies for contradicting anything in such a fine piece of work. Green olives and black olives CAN come from the same tree, depending on how they're processed. That is at least true for the olives grown in California and processed with the common local lye/brine method. For instance: Lindsay Ripe Olives come in both a Green Ripe and Black Ripe style; they taste much the same; they come from the same trees and are both, as the name implies, picked when ripe. The difference is in whether a particular chemical (ferric compound, if I recall correctly) is added during the cure. I won't venture to guess whether there are other olive processing methods that change the color like that.

Question: why did the soil have to be tilled around the trees? Was that for weed control?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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ChefCrash, that is a fabulous post.  Thank you so much for giving us the tour!  It's interesting to see how much the landscape looks like certain parts of Central California.  I shouldn't really be surprised; they're both Mediterranean climates.

I do have one small correction to make, with apologies for contradicting anything in such a fine piece of work.  Green olives and black olives CAN come from the same tree, depending on how they're processed.  That is at least true for the olives grown in California and processed with the common local lye/brine method.  For instance: Lindsay Ripe Olives come in both a Green Ripe and Black Ripe style; they taste much the same; they come from the same trees and are both, as the name implies, picked when ripe.  The difference is in whether a particular chemical (ferric compound, if I recall correctly) is added during the cure.  I won't venture to guess whether there are other olive processing methods that change the color like that.

Question: why did the soil have to be tilled around the trees?  Was that for weed control?

No apologies necessary Nancy. You're too polite. :smile: What I said sounds down right ignorant. I meant to point out that there are Black Olive trees that only produce black olives.

When the rain season ends in April, it really ends. You won't see a drop of rain til sometime in September. By then the ground is very hard and any rain would just wash away before it could be absorbed by the soil. So they till the soil in September and again in the spring for aeration.

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I cringe when I hear anyone say EVOO, specially Ray Ray who always goes on to explain the acronym. I wonder what EVCO, EXTRA VIRGIN CORN OIL looks and tastes like? I've seen imported EVOO lighter in color than Mazola. Do they make that from yellow olives?

Olive oil is very unstable. Brand new, it's milky green in color and bitter, best used for seasoning, drizzled on a loaf of hot Focaccia. Two months later aged in terracotta vats, you have real good olive oil. Army green but clear. Pour it on Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Labneh, Zaatar, Manaeesh, Fool Moudammas, raw Kibby. Unfortunately it's down hill from there. Olive oil gets sweeter as it ages. You ever had a sweet olive? In Lebanon, one year old olive oil is worth nothing. You can deep fry with it. :biggrin:

EVCO? :rolleyes::laugh:

You know your olives, but the stuff I find on the shelves that's labeled "extra virgin" is uniformly darker in color* and stronger in flavor -- more bitterness and a more pronounced olive flavor -- than the regular olive oil next to it.

That may just be an American thing, I guess.

*Goya extra virgin olive oil being the sole exception so far. It's about the same color as most brands of regular olive oil.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'm still reading through all of the posts above. Excellent information!

I have a question that I'd love to get some eGullet expertise advice on:

How can I ensure that an olive oil in the store is "fresh" - is there an expiration date? Are their (national) vendors in particular that are reliable (ie. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Dean & Deluca, etc...?)

Particularly, I want to make some olive oil gelato and need a really fresh fruity extra virgin olive oil.

Thanks!

u.e.


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How can I ensure that an olive oil in the store is "fresh" - is there an expiration date?

In the EU olive oil is required to have a 'best by' date on the label. My Italian suppliers generally make it about 18 months from harvest and pressing, which in the Mediterranean olive belt is usually around the end of October. I like to put the harvest year on my labels, but I use something like 'harvested and pressed 11/05' for the most recent pressing. Some distributors like to call oil from this harvest '2006' oil since most of it is consumed in '06.

In the US there is no dating requirement, just as there are no real restrictions on what can be called 'extra virgin.' Unless you have a supplier you know and trust, I think you're more likely to find a California oil that's fresher than most of the rest of the stuff in the stores. Look for a COOC certified label (often a small gold seal on the label) to be sure the oil meets the chemical, pressing, and flavor criteria.

Or you can order a bottle from me.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I have a question that I'd love to get some eGullet expertise advice on:

How can I ensure that an olive oil in the store is "fresh" - is there an expiration date? 

I buy a locally-produced olive oil: Bariani Olive Oil

Each bottle is labelled with the harvest date (by season, e.g. Fall 2005) and the bottling date. It is unbelievably good.

There's also an olive oil tasting room in Berkeley: Stonehouse Olive Oil. I have a bottle of one of their "varietal" oils (my own term for it :biggrin: ); it's not dated but the product is wonderful.

I think if you're looking for oil to make something like your gelato, you should follow Jim Dixon's advice: order it. I wouldn't think that any national vendor's distribution system would allow for the sort of date-conscious consumption that you're looking for.

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I don't know if u.e. lives in the US, but I'll point out that the Carapelli brand has a "Best if used by" date on their labels. I've found the date to be roughly 18 months from date of purchase. Unfortunately there's no actual harvest or bottling date.

The company is based in Florence but they use oils from all over the Mediterranean, & spell out the details on the labels each of their 4 varieties of oil.

Even their best oil may not give you the fresh/fruity zing that you seek - it's not my favorite, and my experience is that you'd have to commit to spending 2-3 times as much as they ask to get the flavor that you want.

But Carapelli packages decent, reasonably priced oils that I find useful in cooking, and I give them points for clarity in labelling.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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