Here at D’Olivo, we believe in bringing our customers the best olive oils from around the world. As experts in the field with years of experience, not only do we enjoy spreading the many health benefits of olive oil, but we also like to share with customers exactly how our olive oil is made. In this article, we’re going to take you through the amazing journey our olive oils embark on before they reach our store, and, ultimately, your kitchen.
Olive oil has been around for thousands of years, originating in the Mediterranean region where the exquisite flavors and beneficial properties of the olive fruit were first realized. Now having spread to nearly every country in the world, olive oils come in an impressive range of varieties that offer unique characteristics depending on where they were grown and the processes farmers to use to harvest and produce the oil.
Part of what makes olive oil so special is the tree itself, which can take anywhere from 3-10 years to begin producing harvest worthy olives (as decided by each individual grower). Due to varying growing conditions and the time at which growers decide to harvest, different flavor profiles will be present which help add to the exciting experience of tasting different oils from around the world.
In addition to the maturity of the olive tree itself, growers must carefully tend to them to ensure each tree grows to yield the maximum amount of fruit. Believe it or not, it can take as much as 10 pounds of olives to produce just one liter of olive oil! Once the olives have grown, they must be harvested at just the right time (usually within 2-3 weeks of their prime) to maintain the most flavor and nutrient density.
If olives are harvested too early or too late, many of the beneficial properties will begin to diminish, as well as the robust flavor profiles. For this reason, at D’Olivo, we source all of our olive oil from Veronica Foods. Their world-class production process and unrivaled quality control adhere to strict guidelines and regular testing to ensure customers get nothing but the finest, highest quality product. By growing their own olives and working with mills that have the same passion about olive oil, they’re able to guarantee an ultra premium consistency.
Once the olives are ripe for harvesting, growers have the option of either handpicking or using a machine to shake them down from the trees. Similar to softer fruits, care needs to be taken when it’s time to harvest because bruising the olives can cause the loss of beneficial properties by triggering oxidation and fermentation. This is why with certain brands of olive oil, the bottles will be labeled as either “tree” or “ground” depending on whether or not the olives used to make the oil were found at the base of the tree.
After harvesting, the olives are then carefully washed and prepared for crushing by removing the stem and leaves. This part of the process is what determines if olive oil is extra virgin or not. For it to be considered extra virgin, the olives must be crushed via mechanical means rather than chemicals and heat that serve to refine the extracted oil. Much like fresh fruit juice, once the olive oil has been crushed, it’s typically run through a centrifuge to separate water and sentiment from the oil before bottling.
For olive oil to be considered “extra virgin”, not only does it need to have an acidity level of 0.8 or below, but it then must go through a series of chemical requirements and tests as set forth by organizations such as the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), International Olive Council (IOC), and even regional governing bodies to name a few. Only after passing this rigorous testing phase can olive oil be deemed extra virgin.
Once the oil is bottled, it then gets shipped following further requirements to ensure it maintains its taste and nutrients. Because extra virgin olive oil is so fresh, the different flavors from region to region really stand out and serve as one of the reasons olive oil tasting is so exciting!
The ultra premium category was created to distinguish the highest quality olive oils in the world from the increasing amount of fake olive oil that is flooding markets in nearly every country. It’s been the lack of testing and regulation by agencies and government bodies around the world have only helped to increase the number of fake olive oils that are available. In fact, some sources believe it’s safe to assume that as much as 80% of the Italian olive oil available is fake, having been bottled and sold as authentic extra virgin olive oil to foreign markets, the United States included.
The ultra premium olive oil that we source from Veronica Foods focuses on the when, what, and how of olive oil rather than the where. Understanding that the highest quality olive oil comes from the highest quality fruit and production processes, Veronica Foods puts all of their olive oil through an intensive inspection that encompasses both the production process and the end-product to ensure it adheres to the ultra premium standards they’ve set forth.
At D’Olivo, we strive and work to overcome the negative spotlight that has been placed on the olive oil industry in recent years by faulty organizations and incorrect labeling. As such, we are proud to be the exclusive carriers of Veronica Foods olive oil in the Walla Walla area. Having been founded in 1924, Veronica Foods has since become world-renowned for producing some of the highest quality olive oil found anywhere from their olive grove and hand selected mills that meet their ultra premium standards. It’s their impeccable attention to detail and rigorous testing standards that set them apart so they can further spread the benefits of authentic extra virgin and ultra premium olive oils.