Pacific Sun Olive Oils – Under the microscope 2017

Every year we present the chemical analysis of our olive oils. All extra virgin olive oils need to pass a chemical analysis to be certified EVOO.

These analyses can tell quite a bit about the oil’s quality. Once the oil passes these tests, a panel of judges gives the final word after a collective blind tasting. If the statistics resulting from the individual tastings find the oil holds positive attributes and is free of defects, the olive oil in question will be certified EVOO.

These standards were set in the EU at the beginning of the 1990s and they’re still under debate. It’s mostly producers like Pacific Sun Farms and our fellow small to medium producers in California, and the world, that are pushing for stricter standards.

So far, in the U.S., we don’t have a law enforcing EVOO standards. However, along with members of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), we follow similar standards as those set by the International Olive Council (IOC). Continue reading Pacific Sun Olive Oils – Under the microscope 2017

Olive Oil Tasting and Other Sensory Analysis

In a recent dinner with friends, one of them asked what I thought about a wine she brought. She assumed that because I’m an olive oil taster I’d give an authoritative opinion about it. Once I thanked her for her trust, I explained that not only I’m not an expert in wine by any means; olive oil tasting and wine tasting are altogether different things.

This was not the first time I’ve been in this situation as I witnessed also the opposite: good wine tasters or winemakers assuming they can offer a solid opinion about olive oil because they’re good at wine tasting.

The core of olive oil tasting is assessing quality. That’s the most important part. The taster is trained in detecting defects and to appreciate positive attributes (fruit-perfumes, bitterness and pungency). That’s the basis for evaluating EVOO.

While it is true that in sensory analysis of other products the detection of defects is an important part of it, once it’s done, the rest of the tasting is of a different nature. This is because good wines, good beer or good chocolate can have differences in their chemical composition, though this does not count as much as it counts in olive oil.

The other important factor is that in those cases, due to the development of those industries and also from consumer knowledge, those products are rarely defective. Good, solid practices based on research have been established and the tasting is then mostly dedicated to see how we’ll enjoy the product of the tasting. Continue reading Olive Oil Tasting and Other Sensory Analysis

Olive Oil Tasting in Verona, Italia

Last March I was invited by Marino Giorgetti, the panel leader of Sol D’oro (Golden Sun), to be part of the judging panel of the 2016 edition of this prestigious competition held in Verona, Italy.

As always, participating in an international competition is both exciting and challenging at the same time.

In the olive oil world, the education of each taster is rather personal. Though progress has been made, we don’t yet have a solid, universal approach to tasting. The way each taster judges oils depends on the teachers they had, their country of origin, their country of learning, their levels of exposure to quality production, the amount of panel participation, etc. All these factors create an opportunity for an encounter of relatively uneven backgrounds. Given that, along with being confident in my own good education, I was still pondering how I was going to blend in with this new panel.

Continue reading Olive Oil Tasting in Verona, Italia

Posted on Categories Olive Oil 101, Tasting

What about the other “extra virgin” vegetable oils?

This week I had a conversation with a friend who is taking cooking classes. She asked my opinion on other vegetable oils and how they compare to olive oil. She mentioned that in her classes, olive oil was not often featured, giving room to other ‘extra virgin’ oils. First, I told her, such things don’t exist outside the realms of misleading marketing and honest confusion.
 
Let me explain: ‘Extra virgin’ is a specific term related to olive oil, its chemistry, and its organoleptic attributes. The definition is an essential part of a European law (Reg.256/1991 amended in recent years) regarding olive oil grades and applies to olive oil only.
 
Most vegetable oils are extracted using thermal treatments and/or solvents, though in recent years, some of these oils have experienced a significant improvement in the way they’re extracted. Using mechanical means instead of the heat/solvent methods has led to obtaining higher quality products, as in the case of coconut, flax seed, grape seed, and sesame and sunflower oils.

Continue reading What about the other “extra virgin” vegetable oils?

On Polyphenols

The presence of naturally occurring anti-oxidants in olive oil is what sets it apart from other vegetable oils and as a sort of a super food. The polyphenol count of an olive oil is an important aspect of it when it comes to evaluating its goodness. Not all olive oils are alike when it comes to the polyphenol count; in fact, it’s one of the elements that most differentiates olive oils from each other. Continue reading On Polyphenols

Posted on Categories General, Health, Olive Oil 101

Olive Oil Freshness, Part III

On a recent visit to my native Argentina, a group of old friends gathered for a traditional “asado” (the typical BBQ) on a sunny Sunday. While the meat was cooking slowly, as the local tradition dictates, I offered some of my friends an olive oil tasting. As a blind tasting I gave each participant two oils, one with a fusty defect from a supermarket and one from Pacific Sun.

Continue reading Olive Oil Freshness, Part III

Olive Oil Freshness, Part II

Recently we discussed aspects of freshness in olive oil. We also discussed Italian expert Pier Paolo Arca’s visit to California and the tasting sessions we had with him. In his view, the presence of freshness — the vitality and durability of the positive attributes in olive oil — is a characteristic of great olive oil.

August 20, 2013 | General |Comments (0 ) Pacific Sun Blog

Arca also talks about “neatness” when referring to great oils. Neatness is a clear presence of the good flavors that are not diminished or conditioned by viscosity or/and not so pleasant tastes and odors. Neatness also occurs in olive oils that are “clean” or “puliti,” as the Italians call them, and the oils that when consumed leave a very fine, clean, agreeable sensation in your mouth — free from being too oily or greasy.

How can loss of freshness happen so often in olive oils?

Continue reading Olive Oil Freshness, Part II

Olive Oil Freshness

I had the good fortune to spend some time tasting olive oil with Pier Paolo Arca, an olive oil expert from Oristano, Sardinia and president of the Moniferru competition. He is a regular juror at the Los Angeles County Fair. This was the second time Pier Paolo and I were in the same group. In the course of two days of judging, we were able to discuss and exchange notes on more than 70 olive oils.
August 8, 2013 | General |Comments (0 ) Pacific Sun Blog

I had the good fortune to spend some time tasting olive oil with Pier Paolo Arca, an olive oil expert from Oristano, Sardinia and president of the Moniferru competition. He is a regular juror at the Los Angeles County Fair. Continue reading Olive Oil Freshness

Olive Oil Filtration, Part II

A week ago, the tasting panel at UC Davis tasted two different pairs of 2011 Pacific Sun olive oils. Each pair included a filtered and unfiltered version. We’re really thankful to our colleagues at the tasting for providing us with important feedback since the outcome of the collective blind tasting is, in most cases, more reliable and interesting than individual tastings. Benefits of Olive Oil Filtration The panel tasted two monovarietal olive oils: one from Mission olives and the other from Ascolano olives. In the case of the Mission olive oil, the benefits of filtration are quite evident.

Continue reading Olive Oil Filtration, Part II