Category Archives: olive oil

Olive-you, olive oil


By Jenna Severson


Three qualities of olive oil at a tasting led by Sara Silvestri, education director at Spannocchia

CHIUSDINO, Italy – It requires some patience and a whole lot of olives in order to produce Tuscan olive oil. My first taste of the olive oil from Tenuta Di Spannocchia, enlivened my senses and helped me see the cultural meaning behind each drop of the oil.

Here’s the basics:  there are four types of olive trees used in the process of creating olive oil in Tuscany –leccino, pandolino, frantoio and moriolo. Harvest typically begins around the end of October to the beginning of November. To harvest olives, and avoid bruising the fruit, nylon nets are placed under the tress and the rake-like tools comb through the branches, pulling down olives as they go.

Olive oil production starts with the olives getting washed and then crushed to extract the oil from the olives. The water from the pressed olives is then separated from the oil and it is filtered once. Depending on the type of olive oil that is to be achieved a second filtration may take place.

At our Spannocchia olive oil tasting, Sara Silvestri, education director, discussed the process and types of oil and how to properly taste olive oil itself. Three shot glasses with different hues of greenish-yellow liquid were laid out on plates for each person.

We were instructed to take some olive oil into our mouth and then in a very serious manner (kidding) slurp the oil back so it coated the tongue and hit the back of the throat.

The three oils tried were an oil used typically for cooking, and two extra virgin oils. In addition to the varying colors of the three, the differences were easily distinguished in their flavor. As the color of the oil got darker, the taste was bolder and more pungent.

Olive oil is yet another example of the deep-rooted traditions Italians continue regarding food culture. Every lunch and dinner at Spannocchia, tables are topped with bottles of the farm’s olive oil along with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to be spread over bread, across salads and pretty much anything else. Oil is used here like butter is used in the United States – a staple ingredient that can assist in adding flavor to dishes, but rarely used on its own.

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Filed under Chiusdino, MU Journalism Abroad, olive oil, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

Tasting olive oil: elixir of Italy

By Molly Curry
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SAN POLO IN CHIANTI, Italy – Out of all the field trips we’ve been on so far (and that number has stretched to three, featuring five food related locations and one culture related stop in Siena), my favorite by far was the trip to the olive oil factory on May 27. In case you were unaware, olive oil is basically the Italian equivalent of ranch dressing in the sense that it goes with everything you could ever imagine, including, but not limited to, bread, pasta, tomatoes and chocolate gelato (it’s a thing, and it’s delicious).

Olive oil is immensely important here in Italy, and tasting the oil is just as important, according to olive oil expert, Emanuele Innocenti of the Azienda Agricola Frantoio Pruneti olive oil company. Tasting the oil is important because there aren’t any real checks on the oil before it goes out for sale, and it’s difficult to stop people who attempt to fake extra virgin olive oil, according to Innocenti.

To demonstrate his point, he had us all sample four different kinds of olive oils in a blind test. To start, we had to place the small glasses of oil in our hands and warm them to bring out the aromas. Next, we were instructed to smell the oil, pick out a scent or two present, and then drink the oil straight. After these small shots of olive oil, we were told to grimace and suck in air through out teeth to enhance the flavors.
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The first one was a sample of store bought, off brand olive oil. This kind of olive oil is cooked at very high temperatures, so it is high in fat and low in vitamins and polyphenol. The taste is somewhat metallic, and it is thinner in consistency.

The second kind was made from small dry black olives called moraiolo olives. This oil had a somewhat spicy finish, with a grassy smell. It was delicious with classic saltless Tuscan bread.

The third kind was made from larger green olives called frantoio olives. It was quite bitter and very grassy. This one was my least favorite.

The fourth one had the most flavor and was made from a mixture of olives. It was very fresh and complemented the bruschetta provided to us from the factory. So yummy!

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Filed under MU Journalism Abroad, olive oil, Science ad Agricultual Journalism