Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

When I opened the ULIVA or ITALICO EVOO bottle and turned it to pour, nothing came out. What should I do?

All EVOOs from Frantoio di Riva use a special plastic insert to prevent air from getting into the bottle. An inert gas is also present in every bottle to preserve the freshness of the EVOO. If the EVOO does not begin pouring when you open the bottle and invert it, put the top back on the bottle and turn the bottle upside down, then right side up. Remove the cap and pour. You may need to do this each time you use the oil. Remember, this insert is what is protecting the quality of the oil for you.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?

EVOO is made exclusively from olive fruit that is processed at the mill within a short period of time after the olives are picked (typically less than 5 hours). The olives are hand-picked and then processed, only by mechanical means. The olives are washed. Their leaves and stems are removed. The olives are then crushed, kneaded and run through a centrifuge. This is where the oil is extracted from the so-called “olive paste” that was created by the kneading. This entire process takes place at a temperature under 80 F. The acidity level must be under .08% and the oil must not have any flaws when tasted. Only about 10% of the Olive Oil produced each year around the world meets this standard.

Why is it called Extra Virgin?

Extra Virgin refers to the amount of acidity (under .08%). The word “virgin” means no chemicals or heat were used to extract the oil.

I have heard Extra Virgin Olive is good for you. Is this true?

Gary Beauchamp, a PhD in biopsychology who directs the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, discovered in 1999 that the 2% of EVOO – which he named “oleocanthal” – acted like ibuprofen and inhibited COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes and reduces the adverse effects of ADDLs, thus delaying Alzheimer’s. Many other studies, since 1999, have shown real EVOO reduces bad cholesterol, reduces tumors in the prostate and breast, and reduces joint pain.

I have heard that there is a lot of “fake” “extra virgin olive oil “sold in the US. Is this true?

The US is not a member of the International Olive Council and thus their rules do not apply to us. In the 102 countries that are members, for an oil to be labeled Extra Virgin, it must not only meet certain chemical tests, it must be tasted by professional tasters to determine if there are any faults in the oil. This doesn’t happen in the US, and oil is dumped here from around the world. The sad news is that most Americans have never tasted real EVOO; so they think what is sold at the grocery store is what EVOO is supposed to taste like.

Can I bake with extra virgin olive oil?

EVOO is excellent for baking. Since the structure of EVOO is different from butter, the result can be a higher rise and finer texture to the crumb. You also use 25% less EVOO than butter.

Can I fry with extra virgin olive oil? I thought EVOO had a low smoke point.

Yes, you can fry with EVOO. Use one that is less expensive but still good quality and your finished product will taste better than frying in other oils. You typically fry at 350 degrees, and the smoke point of EVOO is around 400 degrees. Also, by using EVOO instead of oils made from nuts, less of the oil remains in the food.

Someone told me to buy Extra Light Olive Oil because it has fewer calories that Extra Virgin? It that true?

No, all Olive Oil has 14 grams of fat and 120 calories per tablespoon like all vegetable oils.

I always look for “Cold Pressed” on the label because I was told that is important. Is that true?

This is an outdated term that doesn’t mean anything on the US label. Years ago, olive oil was “pressed” through mats and the first press was done cold. For the second press hot water was added. Today, 99% of EVOO mills use a centrifuge to separate the oil from the paste and water.

What causes Extra Virgin Olive to “go bad”?

The four enemies of EVOO are Heat, Light, Air and Age.

HEAT: Don’t store your EVOO above the stove on a shelf. Store in a dark cool place.

LIGHT: Never buy EVOO in a clear container. UV rays destroy the health benefits of EVOO rather quickly.

AIR: Oxidation occurs when EVOO is exposed to air. This is the reason good EVOO has a plastic insert in the bottle that prevents air from entering the bottle. An inert gas is added to every bottle to protect the quality.

AGE: EVOO is made from a fruit and will deteriorate with age. Always buy EVOO that has “best by date” on the bottle. If it has the plastic insert in the bottle you can expect the oil to be good for several months. Some people cook with last year’s oil and use this years for finishing.

Should I keep my Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the fridge?

No, just in a cool place probably under your counter. It will solidify in the fridge.

Is color of the olive oil a good indication of quality?

No. The color range is from emerald green to bright golden yellow and allcan be good or bad oils. Cheap oils grind up leaves to add color to the product.

Does Italy produce the most olive oil?

No, Spain produces the most, about 45% of the total world production. Italy is second and Greece is third. These three countries produce close to 90% of the total world production.

We have an olive oil store in our town with big tanks full of olive oil infused with lots of different flavors? Is the oil they sell Extra Virgin?

Infused oil cannot be called EVOO. Usually, when you find olive oils that have been infused with flavor, the producer uses oil with flaws and covers them up with the infusion. Infuse your own oils, starting with good EVOO, and you will know what real quality is.

ULIVA Extra Virgin Olive is expensive. Is it worth the difference is cost?

ULIVA EVOO is one of the premier EVOOs in the world. It received the Gold Medal in 2018 again at the New York International Olive Oil Competition in the first quarter of 2018 and is one of three EVOOs in the world to receive a 98 out of a possible 99 rating by FLOS OLEI, a guide to the top 500 EVOO in the world. This EVOO should be used for finishing a dish.

ITALICO Extra Virgin Olive oil is less expensive. Is this oil really Extra Virgin?

Yes, it is made from less expensive olives from younger trees. This EVOO is great to use when roasting, baking or frying.

ULIDEA Olive Dust

What is Olive Dust?

Olive Dust is a new topping made from two natural ingredients – black olives and sea salt. It is ideal in innumerable culinary situations where a touch of creativity is needed to enhance a final dish. It was created

How is it made?

ULIDEA Olive Dust was created by Chef Ghezzi, chef at Locanda Margon in northern Italy and holder of 2 Michelin stars. The chef spent several years experimenting with different olives and sea salt along with other ingredients trying to create the perfect new topping. The ripe black olives are picked at the optimum time and are brimmed in a sea salt from the Adriatic Sea. Then the olives are partially dried and then turned into the “dust”. The secret is holding the moisture in the dust, which enhances the flavor.

How do your use it?

This is a very versatile product. Its delicate and distinctive flavor make it a terrific addition to salads, crostini, eggs or all kinds, pasta, pizza, fish – let your imagination have fun with all the ways this revolutionary “dust” can be used. As Chef Ghezzi told me “Delight in the dust”.

Balsamic Vinegar

What is Balsamic Vinegar?

The first written reference known of balsamic vinegar dates to 1046, when Henry III passed through the Modena area on his way to Rome to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. So, nearly 1,000 years have passed to truly confuse today’s users about what balsamic vinegar is! Balsamic Vinegar is the sweet and sour condiment produced in Modena, Italy and the surrounding area.

How is Balsamic Vinegar made?

The 43 producers that make authentic Balsamic Vinegar first create “grape must” by cooking mostly Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes along with their skins, seeds and stems for 36 hours. The grape must is then placed into a large wooden barrel that includes the special starter – similar to the process for sourdough bread. The starter is not like the yeast used to ferment wine. The hole in the barrel is left open and a white cloth is placed over it to keep dirt or bugs from entering. Then the barrel is placed in the attic, with the windows left open, for a year. The temperature in Modena ranges from 20 degrees to over 100 degrees during the year. The change in temperature is one of the important factors in making great balsamic vinegar. At the end of the year, part of the contents of this first barrel is removed and placed in a smaller barrel, made from a different kind of wood. The first barrel is re-filled with new grape must. You now have a one-year-old Balsamic Vinegar. The process is repeated every year, creating older and older Balsamic Vinegar.

Why is the hole in the barrel left open?

The barrel is left open so air can get in and oxidize the grape must. The must turns to vinegar during the year due to this oxidization. Also, about 10% of the grape must evaporates during the year. This is called the “angels share”.

What kind of wood is used to make balsamic vinegar?

Six different woods are used to create the special flavor of the balsamic vinegar – Oak, Cherry, Juniper, Ash, Mulberry and Chestnut. They can be used in any order, it is entirely up to the producer.

How many barrels are used in making the balsamic vinegar?

If you are making 4-year-old balsamic vinegar you would use 4 barrels, with each barrel being smaller than the one before. If you want 12-year-old balsamic vinegar, you would use 12 barrels. The barrels used to make balsamic vinegar are called a battery of barrels.

Almost all of the balsamic vinegar sold in the grocery stores is called Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP. What does that mean?

Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP is a name created in 2009 so that more and less expensive balsamic could be sold. This product can be made with grape must that is only 60 days old, and the product can be up to 80% wine vinegar. Caramel coloring and other things can also be added. It must have at least 6% acidity.

REALE makes Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP. Is this one different from what is sold at the grocery store?

Yes, while most of the grocery store Balsamic Vinegar is 60 days old and 80% wine vinegar ,the REALE brand’s least expensive Aceto Balsamico di Modena is at least 1-year-old and has 70% of their special wine vinegar and no other additives. When you taste the REALE, you will immediately know the difference.

Balsamic Vinegar costs from $4 for a 250ml bottle to $300 an ounce. What is the difference and how can one product have such a wide range of pricing?

Fake Balsamic Vinegar and cheap Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP start at about $4 for 250ml. This product is mostly cheap wine vinegar with additives to make it look like Balsamic Vinegar. 60-day-old grape must has not matured into Balsamic Vinegar – it takes time to create the sweet and sour condiment that delights food-lovers worldwide. The reason some Balsamic Vinegars cost hundreds of dollars a bottle is because they have been aged for up to 150 years in 150 different barrels using only pure grape must. Once you taste a real Balsamic Vinegar that is, say 8 years old, you will never go back to the cheap stuff.

What does Condimento mean on the label?

Two types of Balsamic Vinegar are totally controlled by the Balsamic Consortium in Modena. One is Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP and the other is Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP. The first is inexpensive with large quantities of wine vinegar added. The second is the traditional Balsamic Vinegar that can only be sold when it is 12 to 15 years old or 25 to 30 years old. Tradizionale comes in a special 100ml bottle and has met all the standards, using all six types of wood barrels over the years; plus only a small amount is allowed to be sold each year. Condimento is 100% pure grape must, just like what is used to make traditional; however, it is not controlled and can be sold at any age – typically beginning at 4 years and continuing to 150 years. Nothing else can be added to this product and producers can make special Condimento, for example, REALE has a 14-year-old Juniper Balsamic Vinegar and a 16-year-old Cherry Balsamic Vinegar that only used those woods exclusively to produce these special products.

Does Balsamic Vinegar have health benefits like EVOO?

As with high quality EVOO, there appear to be many potential health benefits to including Balsamic Vinegar in your diet. These include reducing blood sugar, promoting healthy digestion, lowering cholesterol, weight loss, treating wounds, reducing hypertension, relieving congestion, reducing acid reflux and promoting blood circulation.

What is White Balsamic Vinegar and how is it made?

White Balsamic Vinegar or Balsa Bianco is made exclusively with white Trebbiano grapes and is cooked for 36 hours in a closed container to eliminate oxygen from reaching the grape must which would begin the oxidation. It is then placed only in Oak barrels for several years until the producer decides to sell it. Good White Balsamic Vinegar is usually from 4 to 15 years old and is much sweeter than typical Balsamic. It usually contains some white wine vinegar to balance the sweet and sour taste.