February 15, 2018

#AskArchie: Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Oil

Earlier this month, I got to interview Glenn and Kimm from All of Oils- a local business specializing in high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  I learned lots about their products, and have put together some interesting facts about olive oil I learned from them here!

1. Olive oil has many health benefits!

Glenn and Kimm let me know that olive oil is actually a highly studied food oil.  They said olive oil is “high in monounsaturated fats and contains a modest amount of vitamins E and K.”  They also said that “true olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful health benefits.”  Glenn and Kimm later added that “olive oil is unique in that it also contains oleocanthal, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory, which has been proven, in concert with other antioxidants in EVOO, to help ward off diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.”

2. Extra virgin olive oil has to follow specific standards

I always knew “extra virgin” olive oils were higher quality, but I wasn’t sure why.  When I asked Glenn and Kimm, they told me that extra virgin olive oils (EVOOs) “must meet certain chemical and organoleptic parameters”, and that there are “many standards in the world for the current highest classification” of ‘extra virgin’.  They said “even when olive oil labelled ‘extra virgin’ is sold in North America and Europe, in [their] view, that classification is too broad and therefore still allows a lot of poor quality olive oil to be sold on the market,” and because of a lack of regulation for labelling and standards, the “consumer has no 100% reliable way to ensure that what he or she is buying is what they think they’re buying.”  At All of Oils, they “only carry the highest quality [EVOOs] made in any given season,” all of which their clients are able to sample in-store before purchasing.

3. When buying olive oil, check the FFA and crush date.

Extra virgin olive oils have a measured FFA (free fatty acid) level, which indicates the quality of the fruit at the time it was processed and stored.  Glenn and Kim let me know that this can be no higher than 0.8ppm in North America and Europe, and each EVOO “must be completely free of flavour flaws as determined by qualified tasters.”   If an EVOO has a high FFA, it means the olives used to make it may have been overripe or damaged.  Glenn and Kimm recommend choosing an EVOO with an FFA of 0.3ppm or less (these are the only EVOOs they carry at All of Oils).

The crush date of your olive oil is also very important, as it’s how you can determine the shelf life of the oil.  Glenn and Kimm say that “all EVOO, no matter how well or poorly they are made, have a life span of 18-24 months from the crush date,” but unfortunately, at the moment, “bottlers are only required to put a best before date on the bottle.  They are allowed to put a best before date that is 2 years after bottling.”  The problem with this, as Glenn and Kimm pointed out, is that “many olive oils are stored in large vats for months after crushing and may not be bottled until a year or more after they’ve been crushed”, which is impossible to determine from a best before date selected based on the time of bottling.  Glenn and Kim proudly display the crush date on all their EVOOs so their clients know exactly what they’re getting, and they also “switch hemispheres every six months to ensure the EVOO you get in one of [their] stores is as close to crush date as is possible.”

 

To learn more about olive oil and the awesome products Glenn and Kimm carry at All of Oils, check out my interview with them here.