Australians are the largest consumers of olive oil per capita outside the Mediterranean.
Cholesterol free, a combination of poly, mono and saturated fats, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the oil of choice for Italian cooking.
Like wine, an olive oil’s flavour reflects the varietal of the olive and the terroir -the soil, climate and growing conditions of the grove on which they have beenraised. Some oils are peppery, while others are buttery to taste.
Australian olive oils
While imported oils have long been the market leader in Australia, there are nowmore than 10 million oil-producing olive trees planted across the country.
Often labelled EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or ‘First Press’, which refers tothe first pressing of the olives to extract the oil. To be considered 'Extra Virgin’ the oilmust have an acidity level of less than 0.8 percent.
Extra virgin (blended)
Like winemakers, olive oil producers sometimes blend their EVOO with otherproducers oil. This is done to ensure a constant supply, or to create a particularflavour.
Virgin olive oil
Also from the first pressing of the olives, virgin olive oil has a higher level ofacidity and a less refined flavour than extra virgin oil.
Olive farmer Patrice Newell in her book, Tree to Table: Cooking with AustralianOlive Oil, writes that olive oil labelled 'Pure Oil’ is anything but, it is highlyprocessed and is, “factory oil, refined, deodorised and re-blended to bureaucraticstandards.”
Is the lowest grade olive oil on the market. Pomace is oil that has been extractedfrom the residual mulch of the first pressings. Chemicals aid the extraction.
Light/lite olive oil
Is light in colour and flavour only, it has the same fat content as all other oliveoils.
Generally thicker, greener and cloudier, this oil has been bottled immediatelyafter the pressing. It has not been allowed to settle and is especially flavoursomebecause small pieces of fruit remain. It has a shorter shelf life than EVOO andshould be used quickly.
The colour of olive oil is determined by the varietal of the olive. It is not anindicator of quality.
How to store it
“Light and heat are olive oils biggest enemies,“ says award-winning olive oil producer Marina Colonna. “Olive oil is best stored in a cool place, away from the stove, in a ceramic, or dark glass bottle to prevent light from oxidising the oil.“