What is EVOO?
EVOO stands for extra virgin olive oil, the highest quality of olive oil produced. It is considered one of the best allies for your health and the best friend for your tastebuds.
Let’s know it better and learn how to select the right one for your meals.
- Evoo is an integral part of many dishes.
Unlike wine, Evoo does not accompany our plates but is an essential part of them. A hundred varieties of olives give Evoo peculiar characteristics that match different dishes. For instance, an extra virgin olive oil with medium-to-intense fruitiness, marked by a green scent or with the aftertaste of green tomato, will happily accompany green and Caprese salads.
An extra virgin olive oil that is a little spicy and has the scent of freshly cut grass will be great for legume soups and bruschetta. A full-bodied one with a pungent taste will be good for grilled meats, whereas an extra virgin olive oil with a sweeter, delicate, and not very fruity taste will be excellent on broiled fish or a fish salad.
- Evoo is a natural defender of Human Health.
Unlike fats of animal origin, Evoo is made of 85% unsaturated fatty acids, which maintain the cholesterol in the blood at normal levels. In particular, in EVOO prevails oleic acid that ensures higher chemical stability of the oil during cooking. Moreover, it is rich in vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress, and is rich in polyphenols, protecting blood lipids from oxidation.
The zest of fresh extra virgin olive oil shows the presence of a remarkable level of phenolic compounds.
- Evoo is a multifaced agriculture product.
Thanks to the many types of olives, Evoo can show different characters. In Italy, there are 538 different types of olives whose 119 in Tuscany. They are widespread throughout the region, mainly in the hilly and low mountains areas. The most important types (cultivars) in Tuscany are Leccino, Moraiolo, and Frantoio, all three with different features; Leccino olives give a vegetal aroma with hints of spice. Moraiolo has a more bitter scent which reminds of artichoke, eggplant, and pepper that matches better Tortelli with ragout sauce, crostini with liver paste, and a Tuscan ribollita. Frantoio has a marked bitterness and spiciness that makes it the perfect companion for the barbecue where the Evoo made with Frantoio olives exalts the juiciness of the meat.
- Evoo is a protected and guaranteed product.
The consumers’ demand for excellence in food paves the way to certification labels like the one introduced by the European Union in 1999. They are:
- PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)
- PGIs (Protected Geographical Indication).
These certification labels for olive oils production certify that the entire production cycle (from raw material to final product) is carried out in a specific territory, allowing traceability and following the traditional regional method. It also assures that:
- The oil is obtained from the first pressing of olives only
- Olives have reached the same ripeness and not touch the ground
- There is no addition of chemicals during washing and pressing
- The olives undergo cold pressing, not exceeding 27 degrees centigrade, to preserve
- The acidity of extra-virgin oil (Evoo) does not exceed 0,8% – the lower the acidity, the healthier the olive from which the Evoo is made.
- An independent certification body recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry carries regular Evoo production checks.
Our region, Tuscany, stands out for the numbers of PDOs and PGIs for extra virgin olive oils, certified by the European Union. They are 5 :
Toscano PGI, Chianti Classico PDO, Terre di Siena PDO, Lucca PDO, Seggiano PDO
HOW AND WHEN TO PICK OLIVES
Autumn is the time of the year for harvesting olives. Usually harvesting period goes from October to the end of December, and olives must be harvested directly from the trees. In 2021 we will start on 2nd November.
There are two different methods for olive harvest; manual and mechanical.
Manual method – different types
- The brucatura (harvest by hand) does not damage the olives and avoids the start of fermentation processes that rapidly increase the oil’s acidity. It is suitable for plants that are not tall.
- The “bacchiatura,” consists of beating the branches with poles to make the fruit fall on special nets. It can damage the branches and the fruits. Method not so suitable for delicate EVOO.
- The Combing, in which the branches are “combed” with nets to cause the fall of the fruits;
- The Harvesting is nothing more than the collection of olives fallen spontaneously. It is the worst method since, like all fruits, olives fall when they are overripe and do not produce quality oil. Moreover, the fruits can rot and be contaminated by mold and bacteria.
- It is made with tools that imitate basking, such as the compressed air shaker. It has the advantage of saving a lot of time. However, you must avoid damaging the fruit by never letting the olives touch the ground and turning the olives into Evoo as quickly as possible.
Choosing the exact time for the harvest of the olives depends on the type of olives and climate conditions. Often producers prefer to harvest during veraison when the fruit’s change of color goes from green to purple and then black. During veraison, the highest concentration of oil and phenolic substances gives organoleptic and nutritional qualities to the oil.
At the Buonamico Estate, our DOP Lucca extra-virgin olive oil is made from a blend of three cultivars, Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoio coming from our olive grove of 2 hectares. Production is small and the quality is outstanding.
Harvest is made by hand and usually lasts one week. One week of intense labor for our team since the picking by hand is followed by quick transportation to the mill in rigid and ventilated containers to preserve the fruit. The trip is short since the mill is in San Gennaro, only 2 kilometers away from us. This mill has a long tradition in producing Evoo; founded in 1930 by a local family; it has gone from a small family business to a state-of-the-art mill with the best equipment to obtain an extra virgin olive oil of superior quality.
At the mill takes place, the kneading phase (i.e., the stirring of the oil paste to break the emulsion between oil and water and facilitate its separation) that can last no longer than 50 minutes. It must be carried out at a maximum temperature of 28°C.
Our Buonamico Lucca DOP extra virgin olive oil has a yellow colour with light-to-intense green tones. The smell is fruity of olives from light to medium, and the taste is essentially sweet, with a spicy or bitter sensation depending on the degree of fruitiness.
It is well balanced on the palate, with hints of artichoke, herbs, and dried fruit.
Its aroma is elegant and delicate, with hints of freshly mown grass contrasted by the clean scent of artichoke. For its delicately spicy taste, it is excellent as a condiment for salads and pinzimoni and the preparation of bruschetta. It is also particularly recommended for soups and the typical dishes of Tuscan tradition.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND EVOO
Despite all our care, climate change remains a threat to olive production. In 2021 the frost that occurred during flowering caused a quantity reduction of about 50%.
Mr. Fabrizio Filippi, President of Coldiretti (Growers Association), reports that “The olive campaign was affected by extreme events characterized by late April frost and summer drought, that has inevitably played a decisive role on the overall production.”
Fortunately, even if limited by the few rain showers, the water supply has allowed the drupe to regain vigor after the long dry period. The fruits are healthy. The extra virgin olive oil that will end up on our tables and Italian and foreign markets will well represent the Made in Tuscany excellence”.
According to Coldiretti (Growers Association) data, the production of oil in Tuscany should be around 80/90 thousand quintals per hectare compared to 150 thousand quintals last year.
At Buonamico, we expect a DOP production of about 1500 bottles of 0.250 Lt, but the quality will be outstanding as always.
The bottle should be kept in the dark (direct light drastically reduces the quality of extra-virgin olive oil, altering and oxidizing it) and at a constant temperature between 15 and 20°C (59 and 68°F).
In this way, you will be sure to have a product of the highest quality, which will add an extra touch to each of your dishes.
We particularly recommend it with the “pane sciocco di Altopascio”: a few drops will turn it into “fettunta,” the healthiest snack for your children, and a straightforward but tasty appetizer.
Enjoy your meal!