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How to enjoy freshly pressed olive oil

November 18, 2010

At the beginning of November when I was working at the olive farm, I was able to sample reasonably fresh olive oil that had been stored carefully from the year before and kept inside a lovely 1 liter glass bottle.

Olive harvest in Italy begins on November 1. If it rains, usually one must wait a day or two to allow the olives to dry in the sun before picking them.

When harvesting, some people choose to separate the green and black olives due to differing tastes, but many do not. To take them off the tree, one must grasp the branch firmly with a gloved hand and slide it down the branch, taking the olives, and maybe some leaves, with it. At the farm I was at, they used umbrellas to capture the fallen olives. However, for the areas that they used a machine to harvest, which is twice as fast as a person hand-picking, a net needs to be laid carefully on the ground due to the fact that the olives fly everywhere when being ripped from their branches.

Soon after harvesting, one would go to an olive press as to preserve the flavor of the olives better and prevent them from going rancid before being made into oil. The flavor of the oil will also be affected by the type of soil being used to care for it.

Overall, freshly pressed olive oil will have a grassy-like flavor. It will begin to fade several months after being pressed, and afterward, will retain the same flavor for a very long time. This is why commercially prepared olive oil all have the same taste, since the time it takes to ship it and stock it in the retail stores far exceed the amount of time for the olive flavor to fully “ripen.”

While the olive oil I tried was already almost a year old, I could still taste the grassy, smooth effects of its younger counterpart. My hosts were very surprised at my appreciation for it. While this taste is not appealing to anyone, I felt that this new side of olive oil I never experienced in the United States will keep me from enjoying anything else I find back home.

My suggestions to best enjoy freshly pressed oil fully is to eat it with something mild-tasting. The mild olive taste could easily get lost within an overabundance of flavors. So what are my preferences? Plain white baguette slices or plain white rice.

Ciao!

Dai Dai

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