Why choose Extra Virgin?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is considered the purest form of any type of olive oil. When the olive is a luminescent green, our olives are handpicked and pressed on the first day of that harvest. This is a crucial first step because it helps retain the olives' low acidity (.08%), pungent taste, and high polyphenol content.
Every shopper should always select “Extra Virgin” when planning to cook with olive oil or when adding it as a condiment for salads and sides. The added health benefits and diverse flavors of EVOO make it a must have for any gourmet foodie or health-conscious shopper!
What is Ultra-Premium?
Ultra-Premium (UP) is a new olive oil category that defines the best quality olive oil in the world.
The UP standard was created in response to the growing need to distinguish high-quality extra virgin olive oils from those that dominate the so-called "gourmet" and "premium" olive oil markets, as well as the broader category sold in mass markets under thousands of brands and private labels.
The UP standard is reserved for the world's best extra virgin olive oils. As such, the UP grade exceeds all existing European, Italian, Spanish, Greek, North American and Californian standards for the grade known as extra virgin olive oil. To qualify for the UP class, extra virgin olive oil must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of production, storage, transportation, testing, chemistry and organoleptic requirements.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils are graded according to their acidity levels. The following types are available:
Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a new category of olive oil, even less acidic (less than 0.3%) and considered a finishing oil. It leaves a clean and fresh taste on the palate.
Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil will have a bright, vibrant color with a balance of fruitiness, bitterness and hardness and will be less acidic (less than 0.5%).
Natural Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from cold pressing of olives without any additional heat, refining or processing. With an acidity of not more than 0.8%, it is generally used not for cooking, but for dipping, drizzling and salad dressings.
What are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods. They act like an antioxidant; they neutralize any type of harmful agents that can damage a person’s cells. Daily consumption of polyphenol-rich foods can help prevent certain long-term chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most valuable sources of polyphenols. It carries the highest concentration of polyphenols compared to any other cooking oil. The highest amounts of phenolic components are observed in the olives that are in their semi-green period, which makes them extra virgin. This is why the olives that are harvested while they have a bright green color contain the highest amounts of polyphenols, compared to the darker ones.
The process of the olive turning into olive oil must not involve any sort of chemical element during extraction. Cheaper store-bought olive oils use chemicals during pressing that can remove the polyphenols, and thus removing any health benefit from the oil while also reducing the natural taste of the olive oil. Polyphenols improve the taste of the oil and also help with the longevity of the oil. Other seed oils that use a chemical process to extract the oil remove polyphenols, making the oil tasteless; and by adding preservatives, they can artificially extend the shelf life of their oil. It is extremely important to consider what exactly goes into the process of making the many oils that people use every day for their cooking needs.
Why are the olives hand-picked?
We hand pick because it is the healthiest harvesting method for both the olives and the trees they grow on.
Shaking the tree to harvest olives is a very common method, usually producing between 220-260 lbs per worker per day. It is very efficient and cost effective but degrades the quality of the olives. Now for hand picking, this amount drops to 130-150 lbs per worker per day but preserves the quality of the olives because the skin of the olives will not be torn or crushed during shaking. By squeezing the olives where the stem of the branch and the olive meet, it actually protects the oil in the fruit from becoming too acidic and retains its polyphenol content.
Of course, this method of hand-picking does have its drawbacks such as higher production costs; but it is required when you are harvesting Ultra-Premium EVOO!
The olives are then loaded onto perforated crates that keep the olives cool, and rapidly transported to the pressing machines on the SAME day to be extracted for their precious oil.
What does "early harvest" mean?
It means harvesting during the color transformation phase of the olive fruit or just before it. The early harvested fruit contains more antioxidants, and the quality of the olive oil is increased. However, oil yield is low at this stage. As the olives age, the amount of oil in the fruit increases; however, the number of antioxidants decreases. Therefore, we have to make our choice: quality, or quantity? Quality means olive oil with high polyphenols, a high health component. 33 fl oz of olive oil can be extracted from 6-11 lb of late harvested olives, but it would require 17-22 lb of early harvested olives to extract the same amount of oil. Therefore, the price of early harvest olive oil is always higher.
What does "cold pressed" mean?
It means that the temperature of the olive paste in the kneader is equal to or lower than 78°F while producing olive oil. You can find the information about a specific product from the people who produce the olive oil, or from the label on the bottles.
What does "unfiltered" mean?
It is fresh olive oil that has a cloudy appearance, because it has not been filtered. The organic residue is actually the skin, flesh and seed of the olive, making it denser in terms of fruitiness. It is not an indication of lower quality or spoilage.
Since olive oil’s shelf life should only be about 2 years, the organic matter in the oil is meant to lose quality over time. To help keep the highest benefits and the premium quality of the oil, it is recommended that it is consumed within 2-3 months.