Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation is a specialty olive oil shop located in Clayton, Missouri. After visiting the shop one Saturday afternoon, I was struck by how little I knew about olive oil, and I wanted to learn more. Marianne Prey, owner and operator of Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation was kind enough to answer all of my questions about olive oil. I have listed my questions and Marianne’s answers below.
What is the difference between extra virgin olive oil at Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation and olive oil that is bought at the grocery store (specialty market vs. mass market)?
Extra Virgin is the top grade of olive oil, but even within this category there is a wide range of quality. In order to qualify as extra virgin, the olive oil must be first pressed, cold pressed, have an acidity of 0.8% or less, and have no off flavors such as rancidity. The best extra virgin olive oils have very low acidity levels, usually 0.2% or less, and truly fine flavor that is a pleasing balance of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency. Internationally awarded extra virgin olive oils come from family estates and are carefully crafted. Our store offers extra virgin olive oils at the upper end of the quality scale. Our oils are from family olive groves with limited production or from small farmer’s cooperatives with quality production standards. Many are multiple award-winning olive oils.
Grocery store olive oils are mass-produced from olives that come from a variety of sources, either multiple growers in one country or multiple countries. The oils are blended so that the same flavor is produced batch after batch. Grocery store olive oils are not recognized for fine flavor.
Is olive oil better the greener it is?
The color of olive oil has no bearing on the quality. The color depends on the ripeness of the olive at the time of the harvest. Greener, less ripe olives produce greener oils. Purple-black, ripe olives produce golden oils. Use of early or late harvest olive oils should be based on personal preference and food pairing. Because of the myth that green olive oil is better, some unscrupulous producers will add chlorophyll to their oil which is a fraudulent practice. In international competition the oil is sipped from cobalt blue glasses so the judges cannot see the color of the oil.
Does olive oil burn when heated?
Any oil or fat will burn if heated to a high enough temperature. Olive oil will start to smoke around 375 – 400 degrees F. Most home cooking is in the 325 – 375 degree range so olive oil works well for sauting, baking and frying. Roasting meats and vegetables at a high oven temperature (450 degrees F) is also not a problem.
Lastly, what does cold-pressed mean?
Cold pressed means that no heat is added during any phase of production. Specifically, the temperature cannot rise above 85 degrees F during the production of extra virgin olive oil. Heating the crushed olives would allow more oil to be extracted, but the heat negatively alters the flavor so it is not allowed.
Visit Extra Virgin, An Olive OvationÂ – Â Marianne or one of her staff will guide you through an olive oil tasting so you can begin to discover some of your personal favorites.