"Good oil like good wine is a gift from the gods. The grape and the olive are among the priceless benefactions of the soil and were destined, each in its way, to promote the welfare of man"
I agree entirely with the words of 19th century horticultural scientist George Ellwanger but it turns out that most of what I know about olive oil is wrong. I have the handicap of growing up in a country where I learnt that olive oil was only good for ear ache and thus sold in tiny bottles at chemist shops so didn't start eating olive oil until I was just into my 3rd decade. I did however make up for lost time and have had my own olive trees for over 25 years, but at a recent oil tasting session I learnt that:
1. The colour of the oil bears no relation to the quality only the variety of olive.
2. You can not tell the acidity of an oil from its taste.
3. Oil should be stored below 20 degrees C. Keep your oil in the fridge in the summer.
4. Good oil should burn the back of your throat, this shows that the health-giving antioxidants are still present.
5. To taste oil, pour into a glass and warm in both hands, sniff to detect scents of hay, apple, blossom etc. Roll around the mouth and pull through teeth to get the full flavour and feel the antioxidant 'burn'.
6. An olive starts to oxidise 5 seconds after it falls to the ground so olives shouldn't be knocked from the trees with sticks but collected in mechanised 'vibrating combs', stored in boxes not sacks and taken for immediate cold pressing.
7. If you buy oil in large tins, decant into 1 litre or smaller glass bottles and keep them in the dark. Oil lasts for up to a year. Never buy in plastic bottles.
So now I know that I have been buying and eating inferior olive oil for over 3 decades. To make up for lost time, I went out last week and bought a bottle of newly pressed wild olive oil and it's so good I've been pouring it on my porridge every morning.