Why food lovers should listen to this olive oil expert

Why food lovers should listen to this olive oil expert

Olive oil is an extremely healthy and tasteful product. Although its availability is widespread, most of what is sold is of bad quality. Industry expert Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg recently explained  perfectly how to recognize high quality olive oil in her new book ‘The Olive Oil Masterclass’. We believe every food lover should know about her key learnings.

There’s only one olive oil

We all have heard about the fact that olive oil is considered as one of the healthiest and at the same time oldest oils. The demand and its use is increasing worldwide. That is why olive oils are often targeted by fraudsters as most consumers aren’t educated on how it should taste. There is only one olive oil that can offer the benefits and taste everyone is looking for. This is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

There are so many things to say about real Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but so little is known. A lot of big olive oil brands are trying to use this lack of information amongst consumers. They pretend to sell high quality olive oil, when in fact it is low. Our mission is to change this situation to the better by offering not only high quality olive oil but especially through educating our community. That’s why we were so happy to read the brand new book of Wilma van Grinsen-Padberg.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of low-quality olive oils claiming to belong to the highest quality category of olive oil, which is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)"
Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg, Olive Oil Sommelier

©Photo (right side) by Heikki Verdurme 

You probably have some knowledge about beer and wine and how you can tell whether it is good quality or not. Similar rules are applicable for olive oil. In general, the quality of olive oil is dependent on a range of factors, says Olive oil guru Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg.

First and foremost you don’t judge olive oil by its colour. Colour doesn’t say anything about high quality olive oil. There are beautiful green ones with low quality, but also golden yellow olive oils that are really high in quality. Once you hold a bottle in your hands that states “Extra Virgin” on its label, it means that the olives were pressed mechanically without any chemical supplements. By definition this is “the first press”. It also tells you that olive oil comes cold pressed, meaning that the oil never reached above 27 degrees. If it does so, this will decrease its quality a lot and therefore cannot be extra virgin anymore. That is why the terms “cold pressed” and “first press” are simply Marketing terms that are anyways necessary to be classified as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

These are some of the requirements for quality, but not the only one. Cold pressed is also possible with olives that are lower in quality. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of low-quality olive oils claiming to belong to the highest quality category of olive oil, which is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These businesses are selling Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is not 100% pure and mixed with low-quality oil in order to keep prices low.”, states Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg.  

“Colour doesn’t say anything about high quality olive oil”
Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg, Olive Oil Sommelier

The way you can judge olive oil best is by its aroma. This can be challenging in the beginning without prior training. However, the most important fact is that good quality olive oil smells fruity and has a balanced aroma. This can smell like tomato, almond, green grass, herbs or even banana. In addition the taste is important too, which varies from mild to bitter and spicy. Within this taste range you can find many good olive oils that suit your personal taste.

©Photo by Neolea
EVOO has an acidity level lower than 0.8%. There are several reasons why it can be higher due to the existence of a defect like being rancid or musty. Often Extra Virgin Olive oil is added to Virgin Olive oil (one quality level below EVOO), in order to add more taste. When you buy Virgin Olive Oil it can smell really fruity, but if you taste it you will realize that it’s not extra virgin. In Wilma’s book she is stating that “a lot of EVOOs are not worth their name. The best indicator for a consumer to judge quality is the price. A good olive oil is never cheap! However, there are still a lot of labels claiming to be, even though they are not reaching the standards. You can get aware of the fraudulence by simply googling “investigation on fraud with Italian olive oil”.

“A good olive oil is never cheap”.
Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg, Olive Oil Sommelier

Actually most of the olive oils that are sold to consumers are of low quality. The crisis that the olive oil industry is facing has been the triggering motivation for our founder Bart Jan Manten. He strongly felt the need to honour the divine taste and power of this beautiful product. Most importantly, share this unique sensation he has experienced with others. He knows that many brands offering extra virgin olive oil are hardly ever bottled 100% pure. They are mostly mixed with fairly dull tasting, old harvest olive oil.

Obviously, this is why we are a big supporter of the insights Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg is giving with her book. When buying olive oil the next time, visit a delicacy or specialty store. They can help you to make sure that taste and aroma are in balance between fruitiness, pungency and bitterness. You can always visit us online and ask any questions you might have to receive direct insights. Neolea’s most recent harvest is now available through our webshop and at selected retailers worldwide.

For additional info about this topic we can highly recommend reading Wilma van Grinsven-Padberg’s book - The Olive Oil Masterclass - which is available in English, German, French and Dutch (also available as ebook version in Dutch and English).

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