The hardest part of our job is to convey the authenticity of our products. It also happens to be the one the aspects taking up most of our time and resources.
A huge scandal has sprouted over the last couple of months surrounding the Italian Olive Oil. As a retailer of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we were very saddened by the actions of big corporations, compromising their standards and lowering the credibility of the entire industry and its players.
The way we see Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not only as a condiment. Of course, that is the main use, but this precious golden liquid has also undeniable health properties. To enmesh customers with false claims, it is also to potentially compromise their health. And that's unacceptable.
We stand with suppliers and cooperatives that are willing to open their doors to us and our customers, to let us snoop around, to answer our endless questions. We stand with producers proving their quality, having their products tested by official authorities and we like that they share this information with us.
If you are not sure about the olive oil you are buying, ask the producer what's the acidity level. The closer to 0, the better the product. As simple as that. Extra Virgin Olive Oil must have acidity <0,80. Frantoio Muraglia Extra Virgin Olive Oil is 0,12. Savino (the owner) showed us the acidity report while we were on site in November.
If more than 0,8 the Olive Oil is not Extra Virgin anymore, but only Virgin Olive Oil. This can be achieved naturally (the quality is not good enough), or chemically.
Don't be fooled by the colour. Any extra virgin olive oil sommelier will not consider it to determine the overall quality.
Ask if it is cold pressed or not. Ask if they use chemicals to extract the oil or not. Ask at what temperature the pulp is stirred after the crushing and before the final stage. For Extra Virgin Olive Oil, this temperature should never go above 27°C. Ask. Search. Discover. Be curious.
Don't compromise on the quality, don't be afraid to pay a little extra. There is something profoundly wrong in buying olive oil for £3/L. We've seen how much work is involved, and there is no way it can cost so little.
Smell your Extra Virgin Olive Oil, try to understand what flavour it reminds you. Green vegetables, tomato, artichoke, almond.
Try to understand where it's from. Which country. Was it a blend of olives from different regions? Was it bottled in one place and produced in an other?
Buy just one very good quality bottle and compare it to what you've been using till now. Compare the flavour, the acidity, the viscosity, and how it reacts with your food. You will be amazed by how much difference a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil can make.
This is just the beginning in our quest to excellence and we want you to be an active part. Feel free to email us at anytime, for any information you may need. Any curiosity, doubt, question, we are here to answer it.
The Red Beetle Team
PS. We are putting together a short guide on what happens from the moment the olives are picked to the finish product. Hopefully, this will help you even more in understanding this beautiful ingredient and to make the right choice.