What to Taste in Olive Oil
About Olive Oil
Telegraph Hill Olive Oil
Quality means everything here and to ensure the best, EXTRA VIRGIN oil is always produced: close attention is paid to detail in the oil making process. This attention to detail resulted in awards at competitions locally and internationally. As the olives ripen they are picked and dispatched to a centrifugal olive press for pressing within 24 hours.
The centrifugal method cold presses the olives (without the addition of heat) inside a stainless steel press away from air contact. This process separates the oil directly from the paste. The method preserves the quality and does not destroy the antioxidants, in particular vitamin E, in the oil.
The result is a beautifully peppery oil that carries a strong aroma of olives and freshly cut grass. The estate grown oil is unfiltered so that all the flavour is retained. It is thicker and creamier than commercially produced extra virgin olive oils.
The oil is scientifically tested to determine the level of free fatty acid. This result must be less than 1% in order for it to be labelled as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All our oils are well below the 1% requirement. An organoleptic taste test is also made to establish that Telegraph Hill EXTRA VIRGIN Olive Oil has the required attributes of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
How Extra Virgin Olive oil is classified?
EXTRA VIRGIN describes a broad category of olive oils and should be viewed as a minimum standard and not necessarily an indication of superior quality. Certain critical beneficial attributes of extra virgin olive oil like polyphenol levels, antioxidants, flavor and aromas decline over time, while undesirable conditions like rancidity, and the formation of free radicals develop.
Two of the most important POSITIVE chemical attributes are Polyphenol counts, and Oleic acid levels. The two most significant NEGATIVE chemical attributes are Free Fatty Acid levels and Peroxide values. In general, the higher the polyphenol count and Oleic acid levels the better, and the lower the levels for FFA’s and Peroxide values.
Some Olive Oil Terms
POLYPHENOLS - Polyphenol intake has been associated with lower incidence of cancer and coronary heart disease (CHD). Polyphenols give olive oil its unique taste and improve its shelf life. Some extra virgin olive oils contain far more, (up to 500% more!) polyphenols than others. The time of harvest, the variety, the method of extraction, and the management of the grove will affect the polyphenol count. Processing or refining destroys the polyphenols in olive oil, and oils like “pure olive oil,” “lite olive oil,” and “pomace olive oil” have little or no polyphenols. Heat, light, oxygen, and time cause polyphenol levels in olive oil to decline. As a rule, the more robust oils have higher phenolic compounds than the milder oils. Olive oils with less than 120 (as expressed by mg/kg) are considered low, those with a PPH count between 120 and 220 are considered medium, and olive oils with PPH counts above 220 are considered HIGH in polyphenols.
OLEIC ACID – OMEGA-9 monounsaturated fat is found at varying concentrations in virgin olive oil. It is believed to lower the risk of heart attack, arteriosclerosis, and cancer. Virgin olive oils containing higher levels of OLEIC ACID tend to be more stable and hold up longer. In this sense high oleic acid tends to act as a natural preservative. Oleic acid is measured in olive oil as a percentage. The levels range from 55% to 80%+. Extra virgin oils with low oleic acid levels and low polyphenol counts will have a markedly reduced shelf life.
SOME NEGATIVE INDICATORS: In this case less is more.
FREE FATTY ACIDS - FFA is the measurement of free fatty acids in olive oil. In a sense, the FFA level is an indicator of the condition of the fruit at the time the oil was extracted. It’s like a freshness quotient.
When olives begin to decompose, the level of free fatty acid rises. Fruit on the tree decays at a slower rate than fruit that has been removed from the stem because once the fruit has been picked or the skin is broken, the fruit decomposes at an accelerated pace. This ripeness, or freshness factor, plays a large role in the level of FFAs. While over ripe fruit produces a higher yield of oil to olives by weight, the free fatty acid level increases as well.
When olive oil is exposed to air, light, or heat, decomposition also increases until the oil is unfit for human consumption. Rancid oil is harmful and a source of free radicals. Olives that are crushed within 24 hours of picking will generally produce a higher grade of extra virgin olive oil provided the quality of the fruit and accepted methods of extraction are followed. Though difficult, it is possible to crush the fruit within hours after picking. Some farms have a mill on or close to the groves and manage to crush the olives within a few hours after picking. Fruit that is picked at the optimum level of ripeness and crushed within hours of picking will have much lower FFA and peroxide levels—in some cases as much as ten times lower than the accepted standards.
Source: Michael Bradley, President, Veronica Foods Co. Inc
PEROXIDES - Peroxides are naturally occurring compounds in all edible oils. They are essentially a measurement of rancidity or oxidation. In the case of peroxides and olive oil, less is more. Peroxide values increase over time and are indicators of the level of oxidation at the time of processing and increase according to storage conditions. Poor storage conditions will cause rapid oxidation and rancidity. The more oxygen, light and heat the oil is exposed to the faster the oil will become rancid. Olive oil keeps far better in bulk than in tiny glass or clear plastic containers. High peroxide levels are an indication of poor processing practices, substandard fruit condition, old age, improper storage or any combination of these negative conditions. This is another place where freshness counts in your olive oil!