Under the Microscope 2018—Pacific Sun Farms Olive Oils and Chemical Composition
We’ve made it a good habit to make public all the chemical analyses of our extra virgin olive oils.
In order to get the extra virgin certification seal from the California Olive Oil Council we need to present the results of several tests. Once you meet the standards of these tests, a blind tasting is done by a trained panel in Berkeley. The tasters (a minimum of eight) will tell if each olive oil is defect-free and only then will they award the extra virgin grade. In all these years of making olive oil, Pacific Sun Farms has always achieved the extra virgin status.
As we mentioned before, 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.
On top of that, in front of a new piece of legislation by the state of California aimed at protecting consumers, new tests are required for producers who produce 5000 gallons or more, as is our case.
These new tests, as well as the old ones, tell a good deal of the quality of the olive oils.
Let’s see the results:
FFA (Free Fatty Acids, or “acidity”). COOC Standard—0.50 / IOC standard 0.8
It refers to the goodness of the structure of the olive oil (and nothing to do with the acid taste, which is only found in olive oil in cases of severe defects).
Eva’s Blend: 0.20
Tehama Blend: 0.13
Proprietor’s Select: 0.14
Organic Blend: 0.30
Tuscan Blend: 0.18
EVOO of quality are always under 0.30 and excellent olive oils are 0.20 or even less.
Peroxides (a measure of oxidation)—COOC Standard 15/ IOC Standard 20
Eva’s Blend: 2.63
Tehama Blend: 1.89
Proprietor’s Select: 1.69
Organic Blend: 3.77
Tuscan Blend: 2.08
This is one of the standards that is looser. A good olive oil never reaches 6–7 or more of Peroxides. Excellent ones are under 4–5 and less. This is directly related to temperatures used in the milling process and the malaxing time (the time the olive paste is moved in a chamber in order to warm it up and help the coalescence of olive oil droplets). When producers favor quantity over quality, a higher number of peroxides will occur. It has to do with the health of the olives as well.
Ultra Violet Test
These analyses measure if there was an adulteration and also can measure some oxidative processes.
_<2.4; _<.22; _< 0.01 (minor or equal)
Eva’s Blend: 1.764/0.140/-0.005
Tehama Blend: 1.485/0.161/-0.009
Proprietor’s Select: 1.523/0.155/0.008
Organic Blend: 1.728/0.142/-0.005
Tuscan Blend: 1.702/0.181/-0.006
An important part of the phenol content. These are fat-soluble phenols, whose main component is alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin. E).
Eva’s Blend: 306 ppm
Tehama Blend: 308 ppm
Proprietor’s Select: 279 ppm
Organic Blend: 177 ppm
Tuscan Blend: 307 ppm
Phenol content/ Phenolic compunds
In previous years, we presented these as polyphenols. We recently got to know, that that is not technically correct. Phenols can be just phenols (as the ligstroside family) or polyphenols (as the oleoeuropeina family). That depends on their molecular structure. The correct way to call the presence of both of them in olive oil would be phenol content, or phenolic compounds.
Eva’s Blend: 371 ppm
Tehama Blend: 343 ppm
Proprietor’s Select: 332 ppm
Organic Blend: 296 ppm
Tuscan Blend: 389 ppm
These levels are very good, though the rainy season has diminished a bit the count if we compare with last year.
Once again, we made very good olive oils with a good balance between their sensory profile and their nutritional values. The chemical analyses confirm our careful approach to milling, aiming at quality first.
Happy to share them with you.
PS 1: A new test required by the new legislation is moisture content. In California, the commission who defined the standards aimed at prevented any possible harmful fermentation. Internationally, the IOC suggest that in order for an olive oil to have a good shelf life, the moisture content needs to be under 0.2. Our olive oils ranged from 0.08 to 0.03, terrific results, due to the filtration process. We did these test for every single cultivar we worked with and not for the blends, that’s why I’m not listing them.
PS 2: The labs used were AgBiolab in Durham and BTS in Petaluma.