Extra Virginity – A Book Worth Reading

Extra Virginity – The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

Tom Mueller’s new book was just released on December 5 and is available at Amazon.com. It is an engrossing book with a simple and direct style that is so fun to read it took just a few sittings to finish. It weaves the history of olive oil among wonderful anecdotes of the fascinating people and places he has visited through the years. You will learn countless surprising facts, like the tradition of olive oil fraud is over 5000 years old, documented by cuneiform tablets found near modern day Aleppo in Syria that describe combating olive oil fraud by naming an “olive oil surveillance team at Nuzar.” He tells the 19th-20th century tale of butter vs the newly invented margarine that illustrates that food fraud in the US is old and common place.

He also tells many personal stories of deeply committed small producers struggling to make high quality olive oil. You join Mr. Mueller in his own journey in going from knowing little about olive oil to appreciating its many nuances and in doing so you learn a great deal along the way. And of course, along the way,  you learn the essential healthful benefits of real extra virgin olive oil’s bitterness and pungency that at first are hard to understand but then become your friend and you look for them in every olive oil you taste. In the end you are left with a renewed appreciation of the producers of real extra virgin olive oil and the individuals who can appreciate its deep gifts.

Olive Oil Protects Against Stroke

The link below is from an ABC News Health article about a recent study from France that shows a correlation between reduced stroke risk and high consumption of extra virgin olive oil. They studied 7,625 participants over a period of 5.25 years. While they accounted for other dietary factors they mention you cannot separate the fact that extra virgin olive oil makes other foods that are healthy for you taste better so you eat more of them like fruits, vegetable, legumes, and fish. They found that the higher the consumption of extra virgin olive oil the lower the risk of stroke. The study did not distinguish if the olive oil consumed was specifically extra virgin but they noted all olive oil sold in France is extra virgin.


Another UC Davis Study Confirms Poor Quality of National Brands

The link below details a second study made by UC Davis confirming their earlier study that the most popular national brands of olive oil fail sensory testing and the IOOC standards while at the same time passing the three traditional chemical tests for determining high quality olive oil. The earlier study was criticized by some large producers as being biased so for this study they took larger samples and had two labs accredited by the IOOC to do the analysis. The results were essentially the same as the results in the earlier study.

It is interesting that a human taste panel can still detect more defects caused by oxidation than the established chemical tests. This is why new tests are being developed, primarily by Australia and Germany, to be able to better detect oxidation in olive oil. The study also details the findings using these new methods of chemical anaysis. It is worth reading the entire study.


Our New Harvest Oils Are Now Available

Our new harvest oils are now available at http://www.apollooliveoil.com. We have put our best efforts into our flagship oils, and are very pleased with their quality this year. Despite the season’s difficult weather, we were able to harvest and mill the varieties that make up these two oils at their best. Our selective harvesting techniques and insistence on hand picking methods that do not bruise or damage the fruit have once again translated into wonderful oils.

The Sierra is very similar in both flavor and quality to that of last year’s production, which was the only domestic oil to be awarded the Best of Show at the prestigious LA International Olive Oil Competition. It has a rich, sparkling character with a green tomato and fresh nut flavor, along with a complex green grass aroma: it is a perfect companion for a caprese salad, and is ideal for drizzling onto pastas and bean soups.

We are also pleased by how close this year’s Mistral is to our original ideal. It has a sweet-soft buttery flavor, with pine nuts followed by tropical fruit and finishes with a nice, light pungency. We recommend the oil for seafood (it pairs beautifully with cracked crab), green salads, delicate soups, and homemade mayonnaise.

This particularly interesting year has also brought extremely high quality to our Barouni. It still has it’s usual character, full of intensity and spiciness, but with an outstanding amount of total antioxidants: 1,093 milligrams per kilo, 825 of which are oil-soluble polyphenols. These are truly outstanding results, considering that it is very difficult to find olive oils, even the high quality ones, with polyphenol levels above 350 mg/kg.

We are also happy to announce that this year, we are adding another child to the Gold Series family. We have produced a mere 350 bottles of our new Coratina oil, a typical variety of the Puglia region in southern Italy. We have been growing our Coratina trees for ten years, since we imported them as saplings. While we have known that the oil they produce is exceptional, this is the first year that we have had enough of it to be able to bottle it on its own. The Coratina is a full bodied and complex olive oil with an intense green walnut and artichoke character. It is also very rich in anti oxidants: 808 total, with 548 polyphenols. The limited production will only be available on our website.


Improve Health and Joy Through Education

The link below contains an excellent article about a new UC Davis olive oil consumer study. Essentially the study showed that consumers do not prefer the oil that olive oil experts rate as the highest quality. The main challenge for consumers is acquiring the taste for the bitter and pungent qualities of real extra virgin olive oil. Acquiring this taste is similar to acquiring the taste for the strong and bitter flavors found in coffee and beer. However, when the consumers learned that the strong flavors found in real extra virgin olive oil is evidence of a high concentration of antioxidants they began to be more receptive.

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