In this section we would like to illustrate for you the principal characteristics of olive oil as well as to provide you with some information regarding the taste. Please click on the links to the left to consult the various points. Thank you!

Understanding the oil

Understanding the oil is important. The moment of tasting is a key moment. How do we prepare ourselves for the tasting? Much depends on our state of health in general; we should be well, not having recently consumed foods or coffee, not wearing perfumes, don’t have a cold, have the palate well prearranged and the active sense of smell. (Candies or cigarettes lessen and alter our sensory abilities.) We have noted above what should be our physical state in general. But the main point is our psychological attitude. We must be in a patient mood, desirous of listening to the tiniest perceptions of our senses, to converse with the extra virgin olive oil that we are tasting. It wants to tell us a complete story, almost a secret confession of its virtues and of its defects.

Extra virgin olive oil and frying

Extra virgin olive oil is indicated in the cooking and frying of the foods because "it holds better," resists high temperatures, and under heat it suffers smaller alterations than all the other vegetable oils.

The extra virgin olive oil: as it is used in kitchen

It is used raw on everything, from appetizers to sweets, to fruit. It is enough to think of saluting its goodness with a slice of bread and tomato and a thread of extra virgin olive oil, to a vegetable soup, on pasta and beans or other legumes, natural pinzimonio (only vegetables and oil), or raw on meats and fish, whether broiled or boiled.

First pressing: what does it means?

The extra virgin olive oil is obtained by only one pressing of the olives with the simple impact mechanics and by centrifugation. Many years ago it was common to perform a second pressing to obtain a greater quantity of oil, but it was of inferior quality.

How is the price of olive oil determined?

The factors that compete to determine the price of the extra virgin olive oil are manifold. The cost of production (cultivation of the olive, harvest and pressing of the fruits) that along with the abundance or scarcity of the crop, the obtained [qualità-bontà], the ratio between supply and demand. These change from zone to zone and from nation to nation. To establish the correct relationship between quality and price it is necessary to taste the oils and compare them.

What is "Cold pressing"?

Cold pressing means to check that the temperature during all the process of pressing the olives doesn't exceed 30° centigrade. Above this threshold the quality of the oil decreases.

How to recognize a good extra virgin olive oil?

The climate, the composition of the soil, the variety of the trees, the state of health of the fruit, timing of the harvest and the method of pressing, all of these affect the qualitative result of the oil. To establish the goodness of the extra virgin olive oil it is necessary to taste more oils and compare them. The simpler method is to acquire a bottle of oil (it is good to receive counsel from an experienced friend) to compare it with the oil that is on hand at home. Spill a spoonful of each type of oil into two glasses. Make the contents warm with the palm of the hand to free the volatile aromas that so exalts the sense of smell. Bring the glass near the nose and inhale slowly, two or three times in succession. Afterward with two bits of bread taste the oil by just touching upon the surface of the oil with the bread to gather a mere taste. The simple comparison of the sensations we receive help us to clearly distinguish the virtues and defects of the oils. If necessary the taste could be repeated after a few minutes.

The importance of extra virgin olive oil for children's growth

It is particularly indicated because it facilitates the absorption of essential substances for growth. Its components in fact are similar to those of the maternal milk. Extra virgin olive oil stimulates the appetite and enhances the enjoyment of the food’s genuine taste.

Main benefits for our health

Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy food, genuine and natural. It is rich in natural antioxidants and vitamins that help prevent the aging of the cells, also to preserve the oil for a long time. To foods it brings fragrance and taste, and helps to stimulate the appetite. The science of nutrition recognizes extra virgin olive oil’s most balanced composition of fat acids (saturates, monounsaturates and polyunsaturates) as the fittest among those of the vegetal oils to meet the goals of nutrition and good health.

What kind of fat is it?

It's a natural fat of vegetal origin. As other vegetal fats, it gives nine calories for each gr. . It's virtually without cholesterol.It's composed mainly  from  oleic acid (monounsature) and from an optimal quantity of linoleic acid (polyinsaturate).

The oil

It is a food-condiment absolutely natural, pleasant and nourishing. It is obtained from the olive (specifically a healthy crop of olives which have achieved the correct point of maturation) by means of simple impact mechanics. It is sufficient to think that if with sufficient pressure you squeeze an olive between your thumb and finger to obtain the juice, that is the oil. The cultivation of the olive tree and the employment of its oil have been known for millennia.

The olive

Before we continue to speak about Extra Virgin Olive Oil let us pause for a moment on its source: the fruit, the olive. Here, the fruit of the olive tree is in your hands. The drupe has an oval, rounded and elongated form, where you can distinguish three parts: the hull, called the epicarp, the pulp, called the mesocarp, the core, called the endocarp that contains the pit. 96-98% of the oil is contained in the pulp. Only 2-4% is contained in the pit. The olive contains in total a percent of oil that varies from around 15-25%. The quantity of water varies from around 30-60% and the quantity of sugars could be estimated around 19%. The remainder represents 5.8% fiber, 1.6% proteins and around 1.5% ashes. The olive could arrive healthy and whole to the crusher for the pressing or it could suffer damages due to mishandling.

Tasting an oil?

What sense is there in seasoning if you do not fully know that which is added to the foods? If the condiment is not tasted beforehand you risk to ruin a dish, to alter the airy taste, to render a food less pleasant. A mayonnaise is tasted, a sauce is tasted, a juice is tasted. Why isn’t care likewise taken when food must be seasoned with extra virgin olive oil? Many are not in the habit of tasting the oil. It seems there is almost a mental hestitation, the fear of becoming soiled with grease, the fear of having an unpleasant sensation. Only in a few regions, those of long standing oil-making tradition, is appreciated the tasting of the "natural oil" perhaps like an heirloom of a tradition that saw the tasting immediately after the harvest and crushing of the olives. The tasting of the oil normally takes place with the presentation of the "raw" oil on a slice of bread, but a ceremony known to still fewer is that the tasting of an extra virgin oil is often performed blindfolded. There are many others that make comparisons between one oil and another to establish a terminus of comparison and fit choices. The tasting of the oil is always known by too few. Only when a defect is so serious as to render an oil disgusting emerges a kind of "instinct of conservation" that pushes us to refuse a condiment, to feel it bouncing and heavy. Too often many people don’t even know when the olives are harvested and pressed, and when the season of the new oil is opened. Tasting the oil is an art and also an exercise of learning that borders on the pleasure of a game. We must prepare ourselves for the tasting with adequate coaching. We must sharpen the senses and become willing to perform repeated exercises of the memory. The associations of the taste, the memory of olfactory and palative impressions, the recollection of sensations already announced. All converge to a precise arrangement of the impact that an extra virgin oil can have on our senses. The adhesion or the refusal may be predictable, or it may require some moments of reflection in which everything is examined. Only after an attentive analysis of all the perceptive factors could we judge if an extra virgin olive oil answers our needs, if it is the "correct" condiment for that dish, if a thread of it suffices or if we could be more generous. No matter how familiar we become with a condiment we must never ignore the cognitive factors that give us assurance.

Olive oil: scientific rationale

The oil of the olive represents a very balanced fat, as it contains oleic acid, prevalently monounsaturated fat and a percentage of polyunsaturated fat. This composition is well suited to the demands of the human body (around 8% of linoleic acid), and is more or less the same percentage as that found in mother’s milk. The oil of the olive is very digestible and, different from other types of seed oils, it is appropriate for prolonged cooking and for frying. The oleic acid practices an action antiaterogenic and antitrombigen and also renders the lipoproteins resistent to oxidation. Olive oil’s prolonged use is associated with a low incidence of malignant tumors, especially of the colon, currently an increasing problem in some populations. It also favors the ossification of the bones. The oleic acid, which is a basic component of the mediterranean diet, practices a protective action (strengthened from the antioxidant agents contained in fruits and vegetables) as compared to the oxidative phenomenons that could arise from an excessive consumption of polyunsaturates (as found in other seed oils) in that they accelerate the processes of aging of the organism. The custom of olive oil represents therefore a fundamental moment in the process of prevention of the metabolic and cardiovascular illnesses typical of the adult age: preventions so much more effective the earlier they are instituted. The ideal, under this point of view, would be to insert the nutritional beginnings of the mediterranean diet (and then also olive oil) in the adolescent feeding beginning as early as the period of the weaning.

Extra virgin olive oil "Frantoio"

Extra Virgin Olive Oil "di Frantoio" is produced with olives of the breed Frantoio, Moraiolo, and Leccino, and is harvested exclusively by hand, at the end of the month of November and the beginning of December. We use a "cold" crushing process following an ancient tradition using granite millstones that reduce the olives into a mixed paste of pulp and pits. Next the paste goes to the process of "gramolatura", that is mixing very slowly, then it is distributed on special filters of pure natural fiber, called "fiscoli", and finally subjected to a light pressing. The obtained oil is separated from the water found naturally within the olive by utlizing a distinctive centrifuge system. Then the oil is left to rest in the dark in tanks of stainless steel at a constant temperature of 14/15 degrees centigrade. The crafstmen of the Melchiorri firm have nurtured the olive trees on the rocky hills around Spoleto at a height of 300/600 meters above sea level in a zone of rare beauty characterized by an micro-climate that is optimal for the cultivation of the olive.

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