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Eating healthy nowdays is a priority for most people. But when it comes to choosing what is good for us, it can be difficult to know what to pick. One item I always make sure I have home, is olive oil but I have to admit I always feel lost when shopping for it. There are many varieties! Do I pick virgin, extra virgin, cold press, and where should it come from? Some say it’s okay to cook with, some say it’s not. Help please!
Thanks to the Flavor Your Life campaign it all becomes more clear! This campaign was created to provide education to U.S. consumers so we can make good decisions when purchasing extra virgin olive oil. It is supported by the European Union, Unaprol, and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
I had the opportunity to attend a Flavor Your Life Italian cooking virtual class and here are some of the things I learned about extra virgin olive oil from this campaign:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made without heat or chemicals, by pressing the drupe (fruit) of the European Olive tree.
- Oils are tested for perixide and acidity, both of which indicate the quality of the oil.
- A panel of trained, expert tasters tests for taste defects and the presence of positive attributes of fruitiness, bitterness, and spiciness. If the oil doesn’t have the signature fruity taste and harmonious balance, it won’t receive an Extra Virgin rating.
- Olive oil has a high smoke point (400° F), so I can sauté and bake with it.
- Oil should be stored in a cool, dark place but not on the counter, near a stove, or in the fridge. And it should be used within 6 months of opening.
During this online event I also had the chance to listen to olive oil expert, Alissa Mattei. She is an organic chemist, professional taster, recipe developer, and consultant. She talked about olive cultivation, harvesting, and variety. She talked us through the olive fields of Italy into the mill where all the magic happens and olives become oil. So interesting to learn all this from a professional taster and definitely keeping all this information for my own good use.
Also had a fun and interactive experience learning how to correctly sample olive oil. I did not even know that was a thing! They gave us tips on how to use sensory analysis using smell, taste and touch to qualify an olive oil as extra virgin an how it profiles types of olives and their origin.
So, just as choosing your quality produce is important, so should your olive oil. I have learned that the Europeans have got it all right when it comes to olive oil. They produce the best extra virgin olive oil in the world. Over thousands of years, farmers have evolved hundreds of varieties of olive trees and optimized them for different terrains and weather conditions to produce the most delicious yields.
For this campaing, Flavor Your Life has chosen to partner with Le Stagioni d’Italia. They have high quality oils produced in Italy from traditional local cultivars. Their extra virgin olive oil is low in acidity, fruity, leafy-green and grassy scented with almod flavour.
During the event, fourth-generation Italian chef Riccardo Zanni showed us how to create delicious Italian recipes with Le Stagioni d’Italia EVO. His menu included Risotto with Sicilian sausage and broccoli which is on my list of recipes to try along with other mouthwatering recipes sugestions that were included in my kit. The kit also came with a bottle of Le Stagioni d’Italia EVO in adition to Le Stagioni d’ Italia Carnaroli rice, plus recipe cards and a leaflet outlining information about EVOO from Europe.
Here is a simple and quick snack I like to make with extra virgin olive oil that is approved by the whole family: cherry tomatoes with mozzarella cheese. I like to season it with oregano, salt, black pepper, rosemary and mint leaves to make it pretty. I love how tasteful it was with Le Stagioni d’Italia EVO. Delicious!
Head to Flavor Your Life to learn more and educate yourself about the rich history and delicious properties of extra virgin olive oil.