Olive oil is a fine nutrient of great value, essential requirement for the Mediterranean diet. It is extremely useful and versatile when cooking and holds great beneficial properties for our health. They are the result of a long-lasting process which includes attention for plants and fruits, olives picking and pressure to extract oil.
However, distinguishing olive oil of good quality is not an easy task to achieve. Indeed, there are experienced-olive-oil tester whose task is to value the qualitative and sensory properties of olive oil. Through a piece of advice and following the way experts work, everyone can try and see whether the purchased olive oil is of quality or not.
The first and always substantial tip is to write down one’s own personal sensation and evaluation of already-tested oils. In fact, a part from quality, each oil has its specific taste and aroma and it can be much more suitable either for cooking or seasoning different kinds of meal.
Pour a little bit of olive oil in a paper cup and cup its base in one hand for a minute to allow oil to come to room temperature. In this way, it will be easier to perceive released scents.
Now lightly swirl oil in the cup and take a whiff of a few seconds of its aroma in order to appreciate released scents. Repeat this same process within a few seconds to capture different sensations. Do not breath in long, as your sense of smell becomes easily and rapidly hardened to it and can reduce its ability to mark out scents.
We now continue with the tasting: By keeping a little bit of olive oil between your inferior lip and your clenched teeth, breath out through slow suctions which become more and more intense. The aim of the process is to touch together taste buds and vaporized oil. By breathing out through your nose, you will perceive those retronasal perceptions that could be reinforced by keeping breathing out through your nose by means of your tongue. Now you can expel olive oil and, if necessary, have another tasting. Before tasting a different olive oil, it would be recommendable to clean your mouth by drinking water or, even better, eating a slice of an apple.
It is a complex process, difficult to be summarized in a few lines (special courses are required to become olive-oil taster). Nevertheless, everyone can try and surely become aware of the perceptions and tastes of purchased oil.
When extra-virgin oil is of high quality
Now thta the strategy of tasting has been acquired, let’s have a look at the properties and perceptions that are to be found in extra-virgin oil of quality.
Colour: As far as olive oil is concerned, this is not a good marker of high quality. On the contrary, it would be recommendable not to get influenced by a “nice colour”.
Aromas: High quality olive oil has pleasant, clean and fresh aromas, reminding of olives flavours. An agreeable aroma is one of the main markers in distinguishing olive oil of high quality. On the contrary, unpleasant aromas are said to be representative of a poor olive oil processing or a shoddy preservation.
Taste: Contrary to what many people think, olive oil bitter and spicy tastes (perceived in the throat) are good qualities of olive oil. Indeed, they suggest that olive oil has been yielded by healthy and properly ripened fruits, and that there is a high quantity of polyphenols with antioxidative properties. Sweet olive oil is not high- quality olive oil.
In general terms, olive oil must be well balanced and well proportioned on the palate, without unpleasant perceptions.
Sardinia is a well-known producer of extra-virgin olive oil with a thousand-year-old tradition. It has climatic conditions and cultivar typical of olives that favour its production of olive oil of high quality and full of polyphenols. In fact, its extra-virgin olive oil has always been basic to Sardinian diet, and its people are known to be one of the most long living population all around the world.
We recommend you olive oil produced by Oleificio Giovanni Mateo Corrias: the Fruity variety, with a typical taste of extra-virgin olive oil, and the Lightly Fruity one, for everyone who is keen on a sweeter and less intense taste.