After living in Italy for 2 years, I have always been mad for olive oil. I use it for pretty much everything I cook! Thus, it was my great honor to attend an olive oil blending class with the wonderful folks from Zucchi. The healthy cooking with extra virgin olive oil trend is as hot as a summer grill. And gifting olive oil instead of the overdone bottle of wine, is also a hot new trend. But, it can be confusing trying to decide among all of the EVOO choices on your supermarket shelf.
Despite what you may think, good quality extra virgin olive oils can also be affordable. Here are five tips to help you shop for superior EVOO from an expert source: Giovanni Zucchi, an Italian “Blendmaster” whose family has been creating the country’s leading oils for more than 200 years.
1. Packaging – Look for EVOOs sold in tinted green glass bottles or packaging that shields them from light, which can oxidize the oils and lead to their deterioration.
2. Harvest Date – Unlike a fine wine that improves with age, extra virgin olive oil has a short shelf life. Check the label for a time stamp. Olive oil is good for about 16 to 18 months if stored in optimum conditions, which means in a dark, room-temperature cupboard.
3. Traceability – Know what’s in the EVOO you’re buying. Look for information on the label that tells you not only the country, but also the region, province and cultivars, of origin.
4. Sustainable Practices – This is another way to feel good about the EVOO you are serving to your family and friends. Is the company socially responsible, engaging in fair trade by partnering only with producers who provide workers safe conditions and respectful pay? Is it environmentally friendly, using production methods that limit the use of energy, water, pesticides and herbicides? Does your EVOO have a sustainability certification?
5. Storage – Once you get home, store your oil in a cool place and away from light and heat to maintain its quality. Let your nose and tongue guide you. If your oil smells or tastes rancid, toss it!
Extra virgin Olive oil has the power to transform an ordinary dish into a masterpiece of flavor. Once you’ve found your perfect olive oil, try some new recipes that will highlight the taste of your EVOO. Chilled Chicken Salad with Ginger Sauce and Avocado Toast with Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, and Organic EVOO are two recipes that are sure to be palate pleasers. Buon appetito!
Giovanni and his sister, Alessia, represent the sixth generation of their family’s business, Oleificio Zucchi, which originated in 1810 in Northern Italy. The family has built its reputation by sourcing top-quality raw materials and blending selected oils using only the finest olives from trusted sustainable or organic farms in Italy, Greece and Spain.
Zucchi has elevated the blending of olive oil to an art form, combining oils from different cultivars and different origins, and harmonizing their fragrances and flavors. It requires technical and scientific skills, as well as the ability to conceive and create the personality of an olive oil.
Giovanni and Alessia’s passionate devotion to quality olive oils inspired them to focus the company’s research and development efforts to perfect the blending process. “The art of blending is the ability to imagine and expertly combine oils from different cultivars and different origins to create one special oil with a specific personality,” she explains. “The result is always a unique harmony of fragrances and flavors that is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Learn more at www.zucchi.com/us.