July 2012

Olio Verde Olives

Our customer “Wayne in Connecticut” has sent us a few excellent questions about olive oil production. We’re happy to share them with you.

Q. Is olive oil pressed from just the green unripened olives, the black ripened ones, or both?   If both, there must be a distinct general difference between the taste of “green olive oil” and ripened olives.

The highest quality olive oils are pressed when the green olives just begin to change color. This yields an oil full of flavor and possessing the best attributes. As olives continue to develop and ripen, they yield more oil, but that oil possesses a higher acidity level. It is very expensive to produce a high quality oil. There are some productions that yield only a liter or two per tree.

If you are mixing an oil having a very low acidity, with an oil with a significantly higher acidity level, you will end up with an “average” oil. Oils pressed from riper olives also seem to degrade or lose their characteristics at a faster clip.

Q. I notice in your descriptions of the oils, their flavor is usually a reference to a particular taste… say “green grass”, some fruit, peppery, etc.   Is this a product of aging the olive oil with flavorings or just the natural flavor of the individual brand of olives grown?  I assume olive oil is aged–maybe it isn’t?— just pressed & bottled instead?

The grassy, fruity, peppery characteristics are due primarily to the olive cultivars. The oils from Sicily (predominantly Nocellara, Biancollila, and Cerasuola cultivars) tend to be grassy, and the cultivars are different from the more pungent oils from Tuscany (predominantly Frantoio and Leccino). For top quality extra virgin olive oils those lovely distinctions are directly due to the cultivars grown and the skill of the grower.

The Novello oil (first of the season) is freshly bottled by those producers who believe in selling new oil. Not all believe this is the right thing to do!  By tradition, some producers prefer to let their oil settle or decant for a few weeks before bottling. Those producers store oil in stainless steel tanks with great care to preserve the freshness.  Aging is not a good thing.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the McLean Project for the Arts, Olio2go participated in “The Art of Italian Olive Oil”, a private olive oil tasting and luncheon in the MPA galley.  We enjoyed a tasting of four olives oils and two tapenade selections, the true magic was found in RSVP Catering’s pairing of the oils (and Vincotto Fig Vinegar) with their recipes. One very lucky guest received the Cutrera Gran Cru Tasting Set

— the door prize!

Santa Chiara Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi – Spoleto 2011

Gerbino Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Pelliccia Estate Bottled Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Vincotto Fig Vinegar

Maida Pomodori Secchi Crema Sundried Tomato Spread

Maida Olive al Cacao Pate

Orders noted with MPA and received by midnight on July 16, 2012 will be counted toward Olio2go’s donation to MPA.


I don’t know if my children read this blog. If they do, I will soon be in trouble. But sometimes I’m just a kid and I like to see what I can get away with. As a mother in the food business, it can be fun to expand the offerings at home.

Now these are children who at age one ate spicy salsa in Southern California, at age 8 ate rabbit and boar in Tuscany, and at age 10 at mussels in Galway, Ireland. Sometimes, if they haven’t been told what they are eating, they are more….adventurous.

The foods of Southern Italy seem to be perfect matched to hot summer nights. Just recently we had an easy dinner of pasta with Villa Cappelli Spaghettata (from Puglia) to spice things up. If I had offered them anchovies, I’m sure the answer would have been far from affirmative. So, when I was alone in the kitchen, I tossed a teaspoonful of Colatura di Alici (from Campania) into the sauce. The Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra (also Campania) was the pasta of the night. All were combined and the dish was rapidly consumed.

There was something more….interesting….about the dish when served with Colatura di Alici. It brought out food magic with umami. Highly recommended.