Frequently Asked Questions and Nutrition - A Closer Look
What's the difference between our Extra Virgin Olive Oils and store bought EVOO?
That bottle of extra virgin olive oil you take off the grocery store shelf may not be what you think it is. Instead of being a greenish-gold, fruity, fresh oil made from olives, rich in antioxidants and delicious to drizzle over a beautiful caprese salad, more likely than not it is a blend of oils, some made from olives, and some not.
In fact, a recent study by UC Davis that tested a number of the best-selling olive oils in California, including Bertolli, Star, and Colavita, found that 69% of the extra virgin olive oil imported into the U.S. did not meet the standards for extra virgin. The Oil Tree guarantees the freshest Extra Virgin Olive Oils on the market. New harvests are brought in twice a year: Northern Hemisphere harvest (Oct/Nov) and Southern Hemisphere harvest (April/May). Not only are our EVOOs traceable to their respectable source, each one has been chemically and sensory analyzed. Transparency is a significant part of our presentation.
What's the difference between fused and infused olive oil?
Infused olive oils have all natural, plant based essential oils added into a mild intensity EVOO for flavor. Fused oils are a bit more complicated. Fused olive oils involve crushing whole, fresh olives together with perfectly ripe, fresh produce using a strict mechanical extraction process. It is an incredibly difficult, costly and rare process that requires near perfect choreography.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chemical Analysis Terms
Oleic Acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in EVOO. Olive oil generally contains higher levels of oleic acid than other vegetable fats. The range found in EVOO is between 55-85%. Additonally, EVOO's high oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation.
FFA rating is based on 100C standards, the maximum limit for FFA (free fatty acid) in EVOO is 0.8g per 100g or (.8%). A low FFA is desirable. The free fatty acid rating reflects the condition of the fruit at the time of crush. The higher the FFA rating the lesser the quality of fruit indicating damaged, overripe, insect infestation, overheating during production or too much of a delay between harvest and crush.
Peroxide Value is based on 100C standards, the maximum peroxide value for EVOO is 20. A very low peroxide value is desirable. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a typical musty/rancid oil smell. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light, and oxygen exposure.
Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants found in a variety of foods. Polyphenols such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and hydroxytyrosol indicate intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh, high quality EVOO. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well made olive oil with high polyphenol content is crucial when looking to obtain the maximum health benefit commonly associated with consuming EVOO.
What does the crush date mean?
The crush date indicates when the olives are crushed. An EVOO's shelf-life will typically extend about fifteen months after the crush date. This is an important factor when picking out an olive oil.
What is the burning sensation I feel when tasting an Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Polyphenol antioxidants such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and Hydroxylyrosol create the intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics.
What is the smoke point of the oil?
The smoke point of an oil is largely determined by the FFA (free fatty acids) rating. The lower the number means the oil can stand up to more heat. Our oils can usually tolerate heat up to 425 degrees.
How long do my oils last?
Olive oils will last for about 12 to15 months after the crush date. Some indicators are smell and mouth feel.
How do I store my oils and vinegars?
The oil and vinegar are both counter or cabinet safe. No need to refrigerate. Heat, light and air are the main enemies of EVOO. They are best stored in a cool dark place.
What is the best ratio to mix my oil and vinegar?
General rule of thumb is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but all tasters are different. We encourage you to experiment with these ratios to see what works for you!
How are the balsamic vinegars made? What's the difference between dark and white balsamic?
Our Dark Balsamic Vinegars are of the highest quality and are made in Modena, Italy from cooked, high quality caramelized grape must from the Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grape must is inoculated with a very small amount of premium quality, barrel aged Italian wine vinegar and cooked over an open wood fire. The barrel aged wine vinegar introduces the natural acetic bacteria and yeast to begin the process from cooked grape must to “condimento”. It is then aged using the Solera method which dictates that it be placed in a succession of different types of seasoned, fired wood barrels, each of which previously contained residual amounts of aged balsamic vinegar dating back as far as 18 years and in some cases 25 years. The progression of ""topping up"" as the vinegar moves from barrel to barrel is based on the Solera method, with younger, wood fire cooked grape must as it naturally evaporates. The Solera system calls for the continuous (annually) and regular topping up of the cooked must into the next smaller barrel so each year the ‘newest’ cooked grape must is blended with the one from the previous year already contained in the barrel.
What is mother?
“Mother” of vinegar will naturally occur in vinegar products as a result of existing vinegar bacteria maturing. Mother is actually cellulose (a natural carbohydrate which is the fiber in foods like celery and lettuce) produced by the harmless vinegar bacteria. Today, most manufacturers pasteurize their product before bottling to prevent these bacteria from forming “mother” while sitting on the retail shelf. After opening, you may notice “mother” beginning to form. Vinegar containing “mother” is not harmful or spoiled. Just remove the substance by filtering and continue to enjoy the product.
Why are some of the vinegars different colors than the last time I got it?
Every batch of vinegar is slightly different from the batch before it. Sometimes the colors will vary but the flavor is constent!
How Long Does Vinegar Last?
The Vinegar Institute conducted studies that determined that vinegars' shelf life is almost indefinite. Because of its acidic composition, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. White distilled vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time. And, while some changes can be observed in other types of vinegars, such as color changes or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change and the product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence.