Originating from the Andalusia region of Spain which is the heart of olive oil production, Garnata Olive Oil which produces La Maestranza extra virgin olive oil, aims to produce the finest quality of extra virgin olive oil. At Grub Cycle, we are fortunate to have La Maestranza extra virgin olive oil as our best-selling grocery item. This article was written to share the background of this beloved product and olive oil in general but also in honor of the National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Day on the 30th of September !
Firstly, let’s talk about the hero of the olive oil, the olive.
Photo 2: Olives used to make La Maestranza Extra Virgin Olive oil
La Maestranza uses an olive variety known as Picual which is not widely used worldwide but consists of 50% of the olive oil production in Spain. For the best quality , the olives should be grown in the same country the olive oil was produced and packaged. In the case of La Maestranza, the olives were grown in Spain as well as processed and packaged in Spain. Spain is also the capital of olive oil, having produced approximately 50% of the world’s olive oil.
Extra Virgin Olive oil is known as the highest quality of olive oil and the most expensive. To be considered as extra virgin olive oil, it must pass through an official chemical test that is done in a laboratory as well as a taste test by trained sensory panelists recognised by the International Olive Council. Fortunately, the company has their very own olive oil expert taster on site who constantly taste the olive oil starting from when the olives are freshly pressed to determine its quality before it gets stored and bottled. Samples are also taken to be sent to a laboratory and other testers to receive the official grading
Moving on to the complex process of making olive oil, the first step is the harvest of the olives.The colour of the olives determines if they are ready to be harvested which is black. The next step is to harvest the olives either through a mechanical method or using a good ole pole. The two important precautions that needs to be taken throughout the process is to prevent heat and bruising of the olives which causes fermentation which results in undesirable taste. The olives must be processed within 24 hours after harvest to preserve quality.
Photo 3: Green in the beginning and gradually turns to black as they ripen
Photo 4: Mechanical Method
Photo 5: Using a pole to harvest
Photo 6: Mixing Process
After going through quality selection and a washing step, the olives goes through a pressing process that produces a paste from the fruit which then goes through a whipping process which is a mixing process which may require the addition of water. After mixing, the product goes through a separation process either through a traditional system or a continuous system. Once again, the temperature of the product must be monitored. The traditional system uses pressure to separate the oil from water while the continuous system uses centrifugation where the machine spins the olive paste to expel water.
Photo 7: Traditional System
Photo 8: Filtration of olive oil after continuous system
The continuous system is much more widely used as it provides a higher efficiency, production capacity, and hygienic as well as providing a higher concentration of polyphenols which are antioxidants.
Photo 9: Bottling Process at La Maestranza
Once they are bottled, the olive oil must be stored at an appropriate condition such as being stored at an ideal low temperature, and away from light. For consumers, the product should always be sealed properly after opening and kept at room temperature and away from sunlight to maintain quality.
Here are two key points to determine the authenticity of the olive oil
Photo 10: Plastic vs Glass container olive oil
First and most obvious hint is the glass bottle. Glass will not affect the taste of the olive oil and will also reflect sunlight which prevents heat damage. Plastic bottles however will expose the olive oil to light and heat which causes an undesirable effect. The next hint is to do your own taste test.
Photo 11: Taste testing olive oil
Based on my experience visiting an olive oil processing facility, the key is to first warm the olive oil prior to tasting by cupping the bottom of the glass in your hand and covering the top with your other hand. Then, swirl the olive oil for around 20 seconds. Finally, take a sip of the oil but do not swallow just yet. Instead, swirl the olive oil in your mouth and suck in air by parting your lips and inhaling before swallowing. A good olive oil believe it or not will actually make you cough and you will taste a bitter and peppery taste at the back of your throat. The expert tasters described the ideal taste characteristics of the oil which are fruity, bitter, as well as pungent. For fruitiness, it varies according to the type of olives but there should generally be a pleasant spicy fruit flavour. In terms of smell, a good olive oil will have a floral or grassy and pungent smell.
For more information about La Maestranza Olive Oil, click http://184.108.40.206/?page_id=39 and don’t forget to spare 1 minute and 47 seconds of your time to watch the video https://vimeo.com/87082369 on how La Maestranza create their pride and passion Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is also sold on our Grub Cycle app and website.
Featured Photo: http://220.127.116.11/?portfolio=aceites-from-al-andalus
Photos 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 : http://18.104.22.168/?page_id=39
Photo 10: https://www.wikihow.com/Choose-Olive-Oil