Extra virgin olive oil
Selection of Italian extra virgin olive oil. Discover the characteristics and nutritional value of the oil selected from Bizzwai.
This week we recommend olive oil Nocellara Belice product in the area of Trapani in Sicily. Or you can buy the delicious extra virgin olive Nebrodi.
What makes extra virgin Italian olive oil superior is the care taken at each little step in its journey from raw material to finished product and the attention paid to its production.
It is the knowledge that each phase influences the final result, from sustainability to flavour. No detail can be overlooked.
It means respecting times and process in accordance with the logic of value and not profit. We know of now other way to make out extra virgin olive oil unique in the world.
Cultivation. The process which produces a high quality oil begins in the olive grove: the reduction of pesticides, for example, is one sign of the significant improvements underway in the sector.
Further innovations in the field have allowed the reduction of nutrients in the soil and an increase in organic production: important experiences, in terms of both environmental and food safety, and a step toward the promotion of extra virgin olive oil as a product with strong links to health and wellbeing.
Ripeness. The key to olive growing lies in the ripeness of the olives. The choice – with the assistance of experience and scientific knowledge – of the perfect degree of ripeness affects the flavour and aroma of the oil as well as its health-giving properties.
The timing of harvesting, in fact, affects the polyphenol content: their concentration decreases the riper the olives become.
Harvesting. There are no fixed rules for high-quality harvesting, nor is maturation a linear process, as it is influenced by environmental and climatic factors. You must know the plants, check their health frequently, observe how they are responding to the weather conditions, monitor daily the status of the fruit and predict the maturation time to plan for the harvest.
The delicate balance achieved with a harvest at precisely the right point of maturity can only be maintained by minimizing the time between the harvesting and the pressing, because the chemical processes which cause maturation continue in olives which have been harvested and are awaiting processing.
Milling. The first phase of the extraction proper is the grinding or crushing: the mechanical treatment that breaks down the olives and their stones into olive paste. Several procedures are used:
- MOLAZZE The traditional stone mills, ormolazze, carry out a slow, regular grinding, and tend to produce sweet, harmonic oils but transfer a lower quantity of polyphenols from the olives to the oil.
Due to their being rather slow and only being able to work small amounts, however, these traditional crushers are no longer used.
- CONTINUOUS CRUSHERS Modern continuous crushers, orfrangitori continui, instead, favour a greater transfer of polyphenols to the olive oil, and there are various types depending on the type of olives: the traditional hammer crushers can have positive effects in the case of olives harvested in an advanced stage of maturation because vigorous action on the fruit allows a greater transfer of polyphenols, with improved taste and better conservation; on the other hand, for olives which are naturally very rich in polyphenols it is preferable to use crushers with a low impact on the tissues of the fruit, such as blade or disc crushers.
Extraction. The extraction itself is the process which definitively separates the oil from the olive paste. This step significantly affects both the quality of the oil and the management of environmental inputs and outputs.
In recent years, extraction has been subject to important developments in quality, thanks to innovations introduced by various Italian companies. The technologies available can be divided into three main systems: the pressure system, the sinolea method and the decanter centrifugation system.
The most widely used system today is centrifugation. The paste is subjected to centrifugation in a conical rotating drum set on a horizontal axis, the decanter, which, thanks to differences in specific weight, separates the material into several layers. This technology offers the great advantage of having a high working capacity, but does also present some problems: during processing, the olive paste is diluted, with considerable water consumption, a significant loss of substances and large amounts of waste water. To overcome these limitations, the most modern decanters, known as two-phase decanters, can work without adding water and produce high quality oils, rich with phenols and with high-quality aroma.