Variety of olives, climate, agronomic techniques and careful processing after harvesting. The factors that influence the good quality of an oil they are numerous and start from the field, a bit like it happens with wine, with which it has many affinities. Unlike this, however, the wordings allowed on the label of extra virgin are few and for the consumer it is difficult to orientatethe products on the market. "For example, you cannot indicate aromatic hints like almond, artichoke or tomato leaf, nuances of taste that vary according to the variety of olive and the territoryHe explains Marina Solinas, quality manager of Pietro Coricelli, one of the largest oil companies in Europe based in Spoleto, in the heart of Umbria. Instead, the legislation allows organoleptic descriptions such as "fruity”,“ Green fruity ”,“ ripe fruity ”, which depend on the variety of olives used and are characteristics of healthy and fresh fruits.
This oil is bitter!
Even the bitter and spicy taste can be indicated on the label, with different levels of intensity (intense, medium, light). It may seem strange, but the bitter taste that sometimes is felt tasting an extra virgin olive oil it is not a defect, but a virtue. "These features are due to the presence of phenols, substances antioxidants which are naturally present in olives and in the oil obtained from them"Explains Marina Solinas. "From the nutritional point of view they are extremely benefits for our body, because they help slow down cellular aging and prevent many degenerative diseases". In summary, the spicy and bitter aftertaste coincides with the substances that do well, while the more delicate oils are less rich. Consumers can thus perceive the quality of the oil by tasting it, as is done, precisely, with wine. A fundamental step in choosing a product rather than another.
The enemies of the oil.
The wording "Cold pressing" that we find on the label indicates that the extraction of the oil it took place at a temperature below 27 °, with modern mechanical methods that allow the extra virgin oil to maintain its organoleptic and nutritional characteristics are intact. A quality indicator in the production process is then stored in steel containers, away from light. They are indeed really light, heat and oxygen the great enemies extra virgin olive oil, not only in production processes, but also after purchase. Properly stored, in a dark, cool place (not allowed to keep it near the stove!) And in a closed bottle it remains for a long time: the one impressed on the packages, in fact, is not the expiry date, but preferable consumption.
Made in Italy or not?
The oils we find on supermarket shelves cannot all be Italian, as in our country the quantities produced do not satisfy national consumption. The wording "100% Italian" which is found on the specific label that the oil was obtained only from olives grown, harvested and processed in Italy, even in different regions. Then there are products that derive from the skilful blending of extra virgin olive oils from other European Union countries, particularly suited. Explain Chiara Coricelli, managing director of the family company that has reached the third generation: "In our oils, this does not translate into a reduction in quality, as production is selected directly in the places of origin – in addition to Italy mainly from Spain and Greece – and subjected to strict quality controls, not just those provided for by the regulations, but it must overcome the rigid parameters defined within us as a further standard guarantee to the final consumer. Moreover, this allows to produce different oils from the point of view of taste, as each area has different peculiarities".
Unbelievable but true, despite the oil being part of our gastronomic culture has always been little known. "Our sector is penalized by the lack of knowledge of the product on the part of the consumer who, unable to distinguish between the various proposals for extra virgin olive oil, ends up referring only to the price as the main purchase lever"Commented Chiara Coricelli.
"Need make culture about oil in order to give the possibility to choose a product also based on taste or the type of pairing. All this information is missing, since it is not possible to report indications on the labels that may point towards the purchase of one type of extra virgin olive oil over another. Furthermore, it is necessary to review the labeling standard in order to have space for the construction of a real product culture like wine ".
In the Coricelli range of extra virgin olive oils, the Colto, with its ripe fruit, enhances the delicate flavor of white meats, fish and fresh vegetables without covering it; extra virgin olive oil, medium fruity, is ideal as a daily condiment and for all uses in cooking; 100% Italian, the result of extra virgin olive oils originating from Sicily and Puglia, is a fruity green with intense spicy aftertaste, which goes well with dishes that require a strong seasoning, such as meat, grilled vegetables and soups.
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