Written by our own Alinda van Dyk – Brand Ambassador within the Western Cape
Lately, the QUALITY of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is more and more on the lips of the consumer, and I mean literally. This is because people are discovering that olive oil is not just another tasteless oil like most seed oils that we became accustomed to in our food pans when we grew up.
Why is it that a home-cooked meal is much more enjoyable than a microwaved TV dinner – or why is the idea of warm, fresh farm bread with butter and preserves more appealing than the thought of stale bread with margarine and canned jam? It is all about quality and TASTE.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is no longer just a condiment on the kitchen shelf – it is part of the food INGREDIENTS. And why would you use poor quality or bad-tasting ingredients in your meal?
The dilemma that olive oil consumers have been struggling with over the past few years – is the growing presence of adulterated oils and misleading labeling – increasing uncertainty in what extra virgin olive oil to purchase.
The solution is to learn how to taste olive oil – YES – THE PROOF IS IN THE TASTING! It is actually not such a strange practice – it is no different than tasting wine and once you get into the habit of tasting extra virgin olive oil in its natural state – the more you will recognize the lovely characters quality extra virgin olive oils offer!
Olive Oil – especially extra virgin – has specific characters you can identify to firstly ensure it is the real deal and that the extra virgin olive oil is the suitable style for the meal you want to prepare!
Olive oil is a fat – just like butter – and is therefore TASTY – the difference being that it is a healthy, mono-unsaturated fat. As soon as olive oil is mixed with other non-olive oils like seed oils, the typical taste and aromas of olive oil get “watered down” and the balanced, typical fruity, bitter and piquant flavours disappear or become faint. This is also the case with old olive oil.
Look out for the ABSENCE of defects in the oil – like oxidation, sour or mouldy tastes and smells. At the same time – taste the POSITIVE attributes that extra virgin olive oil offers – like fresh-cut grass, herbs such as rocket, fruit such as green tomatoes or artichokes and nutty tones of almond and walnut – YES – all this in olive oil.
At home you can use a wine glass and pour in some Willow Creek Extra Virgin Olive Oil – this is a good start! Not a lot – a tablespoon should do the trick. Warm up your glass by cupping it in your palm – covering the top and swirling the oil in the glass. This enhances and releases the aromas of the olive oil. Smell the oil by pressing your nose into the glass – you should be able to pick up the distinctive fruitiness of the oils – the typical OLIVE smell, or green tomatoes and herbaceous green or grassy tones. When you take a sip, make sure to start on the tip of your tongue, move it towards the sides and then the back – ensuring that all your receptors are covered. Pleasant bitter tastes will start to appear – like almond or walnut tones. Finally – breathe in a bit of air over the oil before swallowing- therefore coaxing the tastes. The final curtain is the lovely piquant sensation especially fresh, green olive oils bring to the table – or should I say throat?! Don’t worry if you feel the need to cough – that is a good sign!
When you are left with this wonderful new TASTE sensation in your mouth – you can be certain that you have a superior quality, authentic olive oil in your bottle.
Willow Creek Estate has the ideal terroir that plays a key role in the characters of our extra virgin olive oils. No longer is it just the quality and taste of olive oil that are on the lips of our consumers – but the name WILLOW CREEK – that is fast becoming a must-have INGREDIENT of pantries all-over!
In my next blog I will explain how taste sensation is extended how the proof is only in the taste and meal – but even in the pudding!