How to taste olive oil at home
Guide to tasting extra virgin olive oil for everyone. How to evaluate the quality of an olive oil comfortably at home.
When buying olive oil, knowledge is power!
We know that extra virgin olive oil plays an important role in nutrition, especially the Italian one. However, it is increasingly difficult to realize the quality of the product that we have before us due to the ever-growing number of producers and brands of olive oil that crowd supermarkets and grocery stores.
According to journalist Tom Mueller, speaking on the popular CBS News program “60 Minutes,” an astonishing 80% of the extra virgin olive oil sold in the United States does not meet the standards for extra virgin. The suggestion for all shoppers is that it is very important to be informed: When Buying Olive Oil, Knowledge is Power! If for pleasure or curiosity you want to discover the qualities of an olive oil, here are the techniques used by professionals that you can reproduce at home and train as you try.
What to do before tasting:
To better prepare the taste buds it would be better not to smoke at least 30 minutes before tasting, avoid using very fragrant products that can interfere with your sense of smell, do not eat.
The first experience of an extra virgin olive oil is the visual one. Once you follow these simple rules, pour two teaspoons of olive oil into a clear glass and try to immediately grasp the consistency. A quality oil should have a medium-low degree of fluidity A lower quality oil, on the other hand, will be very fluid
After the first visual approach, it's time for the olfactory analysis. For a better result, we recommend heating the oil inside the glass with the heat of your hand, turning it in the meantime and including the end of the glass with your other hand. At this point discover the glass by letting out all the aromas, move your nose closer and inhale very slowly but deeply. This way you should be able to feel all the nuances and aromas of olive oil. In general, the perception of the various aromas should oscillate on a scale ranging from "barely perceptible" to "very intense".
Finally, after sight and smell, it's time for the real tasting: Take a small amount of olive oil and distribute it evenly across the mouth with the tongue. Afterwards, with the tongue that adheres to the palate and the parted lips, slowly inhale for a period of time of about 30 seconds. Let the inspired air make the aromas move towards the taste buds. Especially the first few times it is good to repeat the operation several times to collect and record more information that may have escaped the first few times.
You may experience a peppery sensation in the back of your throat that may burn a little—this is from oleocanthol, the antioxidant naturally found in the oil. Sometimes you will cough because it’s so strong— but that’s okay! That is actually considered a compliment to a producer; it means they’re making a very healthy oil. Some people rate oils as one, two or three coughs in terms of intensity.
What should you "feel" with your senses? Which feelings can be considered positive and which negative? During the tasting, you can also denote the olfactory peculiarities, being the two channels (gustatory and olfactory) linked. Smell: the olfactory analysis should be immediately clear the scent of fruity olive green if you clearly distinguish the flavor of freshly squeezed olives or ripe fruit. From here you will deduce the degree of ripeness of the olives. Taste: You should be able to distinguish properties such as bitter, spicy and the many other attributes that you can learn more about in our article on the sensory analysis of extra virgin olive oil.
How to recognize a good extra virgin olive oil: If the result of your analysis corresponds to a distinguishable presence of all flavors and smells then you will be faced with a good extra virgin olive oil, the quality increases as the harmony and balance between all the parameters increases. Some other tips: At first it will seem that you are unable to grasp many nuances, but trust that with time and by training your senses you will find every time you go deeper and deeper into the sensorial knowledge of the oil.
What olive oil should you buy?
Definitely extra-virgin olive oil, although it isn’t always easy to know if you’re getting extra virgin, even if it says so on the label. (Note: olive oils listed as ‘pure” or “light” do not contain oleocanthal. It, like other phenolics, is removed during the refining process.) Only extra virgin olive oil contains the all-important oleocanthal.