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    You’re Not A Virgin

    I can’t love you any more.
    Ok, I can, but I won’t be able to trust you as well.

    A recent UC Davis study has found that many imported “extra virgin” olive oils fail international (and US) standards. The report was conducted by Dr. Edwin N. Frankel, Dr. Rodney G. Mailer, Dr. Charles F. Shoemaker, Sr. Selina C. Wang and Dan Flynn. They tested the quality of “EVOO’s” in the shelves of California supermarkets at two different laboratories using methods approved by both the IOC and the USDA. They found that many of those so called “Extra Virgins” failed tests for standards in different areas including: Oxidation by exposure to elevated temperatures, light and/or aging, adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil, poor quality oil made from damaged or over ripe olives, processing flaws, and/or improper oil storage. The results (and I am including only USDA standards, the German standards brought in higher failure rates): 69% of imported olive oil samples labeled as EVOO failed to meet standards for EVOO. 31% failed standards for UV absorbance. The study only included 14 samples of “EVOO” found in California supermarkets. Is this an accurate count? Possibly not, but I have a feeling that if they took a greater sampling, the results would be just as shocking. Now, how do we get our hands on that list?

    UPDATE: California restaurateurs have filed suit with the Orange County Superior Court against the following brands for fraud and misrepresentation including Bertolli, Filippo Berio, Carapelli, Star, Colavita, Mezzetta, Pompeian, Rachael Ray, Mazolla and Safeway Select.

    Tree of Life

    The olive tree is as deeply embedded in the history and mythology of olive-growing lands as it is in the Mediterranean landscape itself.

    By Nancy Harmon Jenkins Source: Saveur

    You plant grapevines for your children, my Tuscan neighbors say, and olive trees for your grandchildren. It can take as long as 40 years for Olea europaea, the olive tree, to grow to full maturity (though many begin bearing fruit after just five to seven years). Once planted, however, barring frost, fire, or flood, the tree can live for centuries, its taproot stretching deep—up to 20 feet—into the soil, seeking moisture. All over the Mediterranean—from Andalusia in Spain (where this photo was taken) to Puglia in Italy to Kalamata in Greece—you’ll find ancient, gnarled trees still faithfully producing delicious fruit every fall.
    Continue reading…

    A Cook’s Guide to Olive Oils

    Fine extra-virgin olive oils exhibit a seemingly infinite range of aromas, flavors, textures, and hues. Here is a highly selective list of oils from around the world—drawn from a tasting of more than a hundred bottles—that we think represents this range beautifully.

    By The Editors Source: Saveur


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    A Glossary of Olives

    All olives are green when young and darken as they mature, and each variety has its own optimal stage of harvesting for oil. There are hundreds of varieties of olives grown around the world; here are ten that are prized for their oil.
    By Nancy Harmon Jenkins Source: Saveur

    Frantoio
    This medium-size, oval olive is the main variety in a typical Tuscan blended oil. Frantoio oil is peppery with hints of freshly cut grass, and balanced by notes of bitterness and pungency; it’s great for both drizzling and cooking.

    Leccino
    A Tuscan original, this ellipsoid olive is now widespread throughout Italy. Notable for its ability to withstand cold temperatures and for its quick ripening, it makes mildly pungent, fruity, sweet oils.

    Moraiolo
    These small, plump olives form the basis of most oils from Italy’s Umbria region. Ample fruit flavors are balanced by an exceptionally high level of polyphenols, the compounds in olive oil that yield pleasing pungency and bitterness. Moraiolo oils are excellent drizzled over bean soups and bruschetta.
    Continue reading…

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