LOCATION AND CLIMATE

 

As you might expect, olives grown in cooler areas where there is more moisture (rainfall and dew) exhibit leaner, more restrained characteristics.  This doesn’t however mean that great oil can now be made in Iceland – you need a minimum amount of sunshine to make your Extra Virgin Olive Oil taste remarkable, similarly to tomatoes or stone fruit.

Olive trees are sensitive to winter freeze (the Casaliva cultivar is more resistant to cold, hence being grown in the Garda region).  It is also easier to farm organically where the climate is more stable and less chemical sprays are required to keep the trees healthy.

OLIVE MATURITY

 

Here’s the thing – all olives are green.  When they become fully mature, they turn black.
Olive maturity at the time of harvest is a major factor in flavour and quality: olives harvested earlier (green olives) feature more bitter, grassy characteristics, with lower yields and with the highest anti-oxidant content.  The oil is a much more intense green colour and has a longer shelf-life.  In terms of production, milling can take longer with green olives (a longer malaxation - the action of slowly churning milled olives to release droplets of oil - is needed and can be more complicated) but the results are far superior!  Don’t choose olive oil from over mature fruit: it lacks all the potential goodness and flavour.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN GROVE AND MILL

 

People who care passionately about what they make and follow it personally every day have the capacity to create products with far higher quality, with integrity, and that taste of where they come from.  They are also able to do this by caring for the environment they inhabit.

FRANTOIO DI RIVA BOX

This box contains 6 bottles of extra virgin olive oil made exclusively by Frantoio di Riva from groves on the banks of lake Garda.

Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO green label x 3 bottles (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO organic white label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, 46°PARALLELO blue label x 1 bottle (50cl)
Frantoio di Riva, ULIVA Garda Trentino DOP x 1 bottle (50cl)

The 2023 season, looking back to look forward

We now have enough distance from the 2023 harvest to take stock of what happened and to have seen the oils settle. So, what’s the verdict?

 

2023 was another super challenging growing season. Following a relatively mild and dry winter, the rain and wind came in late spring at exactly the toughest moment, flowering. This had a particular impact in central and northern Italy reducing fruit set significantly. The summer began rather wet but then the heat kicked in during July and August requiring many of our growers to irrigate sporadically. Even if every measure is taken to dry farm, we have to be realistic about the changing climate and what impact it has on farming.

 

The south of Italy fared better in terms of volume and this season, an incredible 86% of Italian Olive Oil came collectively from the regions of Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily*, which is largely accounted for due to the significant reduction in central and northern Italy.

 

The heat throughout the summer months did an incredible job to concentrate the polyphenols and so the resulting oils from our incredible growers have high levels of these wonderful natural antioxidants. As is true for wine growing, challenging harvests are when it’s ever more important to follow the best producers, because the difference in resulting quality is often more noticeable. The attention to detail required in a difficult year is rewarded ever more in the bottle.

 

The flavours in all of the oils we have shared with you from this harvest are pure and true, representative of their origin in the best possible way and we are genuinely proud of our frantoiani for the quality they have delivered. As we unfurl from winter, we do however wish them a far less complicated growing season ahead!

 

 

* source ISMEA

REPLENISHING YOUR GLUTATHIONE

Did you know that taking paracetamol depletes your reserves of glutathione?

There is a great deal of research out there showing that glutathione is vital for optimizing cellular function and maintaining overall health.  It can reduce the build-up of free radicals (which play a role in many health conditions) as well as reducing oxidative stress (where free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance in the body).

From what we know, oxidative stress opens us up to the possibility of all sorts of diseases and therefore we want to ensure our glutathione levels are not dipping.

 

There are a number of ways to increase your glutathione levels ranging from supplements to iv therapy, but there is also a natural way to do this: to incorporate a master antioxidant into your diet.

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a master antioxidant. Natural, freshly pressed, no preservatives or additives.  So if you’ve had to take paracetamol to fight off a bug recently, slice up some bread and make yourself a bruschetta!

36 POLYPHENOLS IN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

There are 36 known polyphenols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil belonging to different classes based on their molecular weights and structures. This level of science is researched extensively and if you wanted to dive deeper see some references below*.

 

These compounds, some of which we flag up as individual polyphenols from time to time, not only have nutritional benefits, but also impact the sensory quality and shelf-life of the oil.

Although it is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed directly in its raw state, extra virgin olive oil is influenced significantly by factors such as its terroir (the soil type, the altitude at which it is planted, the proximity to large water masses, the climate, the cultivar) and also the agricultural practices. Not all Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the same – and as you come on this journey with us, you will get to know more about that.

 

Two of the most significant factors determining polyphenol levels are the cultivar itself and the olive maturity at the point of harvest.  When an olive matures, a number of changes occur in the fruit including several metabolic processes which alter the compounds and in turn impact the aroma and taste, the oxidative stability and the nutritional value of the resulting olive oil.

 

This is why we always talk to you about provenance. You need to know who has made your oil and how, what it’s made from, where it comes from. These things make a difference and it’s why we do what we do.  Every time we select an extra virgin olive oil, we have considered each of these factors.

 

*Cicerale et al., 2010. Jolayemi et al., 2016. Condelli et al., 2015. Victor R. Preedy et al., 2020.

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Antioxidant

Antioxidants play an essential role in maintaining our health by nеutralizing harmful oxygеn frее radicals, which arе by-products of thе natural oxidation processes occurring in our cеlls. Thеsе frее radicals, if not nеutralizеd, can causе oxidativе strеss and damagе to cеlls and DNA, potеntially lеading to various sеrious hеalth conditions such as cancеr, cardiovascular disеasе, diabеtеs, ostеoporosis, Alzhеimеr’s disеasе, and morе.

 

Polyphеnols, a type of antioxidant found in plants, arе of significant interest due to their antioxidant propеrtiеs and their potential to prеvеnt various disеasеs. One group of polyphеnols that’s particularly notеworthy is found in olivе oil. Extra virgin olivе oil, which is rich in monounsaturatеd fats and polyphеnols, is a kеy componеnt in many diеts, еspеcially thе Mеditеrranеan Diеt. Olivе polyphеnols, including hydroxytyrosol, olеuropеin, and olеocanthal, havе bееn associatеd with various hеalth bеnеfits, including anti-inflammatory, antibactеrial, and antioxidant еffеcts.

 

Thе polyphеnol contеnt in olivеs and, subsеquеntly, olivе oil can vary based on factors such as climatе, ripеning stagе of thе fruit, еxtraction conditions, and storagе timе. Whеn cooking with еxtra virgin olivе oil, somе polyphеnols may bе lost duе to high tеmpеraturеs, but studiеs have shown that a significant portion of thеsе polyphеnols еfficiеntly migratе from olivе oil to thе vеgеtablеs bеing cookеd. Thеrеforе, it is rеcommеndеd to usе olivе oil in vеgеtablе prеparation to acquirе a diеt rich in polyphеnols.

 

Ovеrall, incorporating natural plant polyphеnols, particularly those found in extra virgin olivе oil, into our diеts is a wisе choicе for improving ovеrall hеalth. Thеsе polyphеnols may hеlp rеducе thе risk of various disеasеs and slow disеasе progrеssion, making thеm an еssеntial componеnt of a hеalthy lifеstylе.

Olive Oil, what’s the difference?

It might seem as if olive oil is just that. However, there are a number of different quality grades that warrant a bit of explanation to help you navigate labels and make the best choices.

 

The market for Olive Oil is vast – in Italy domestic demand outstrips supply and so you can imagine how much oil needs to be sourced from outside to fulfil the volume demands of large companies who supply supermarkets around the globe. You can find an incredibly broad range of quality in the bottle therefore.

 

Here are the main three quality grades that you can find on the label.

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO):

 

EVOO stands as the highest quality grade of olive oil, representing the purest and freshest form of olive juice. It maintains exceptional quality with low free acidity, not exceeding 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and no sensory defects. This superior grade retains the olive’s natural antioxidants for the longest time, as well as vitamin E, and phytosterols due to minimal processing.

 

Virgin Olive Oil (VOO):

 

VOO is of a slightly low quality compared to EVOO. It is produced through a similar natural process and may have a free acidity of up to 2.0 grams per 100 grams. Minor organoleptic imperfections may be present, but it retains the fundamental characteristics of olive oil so it makes a good and more economical option for larger scale cooking.

 

Olive Oil (OO):

 

OO, is often a blend of refined and natural olive oils, with a free acidity typically not exceeding 1.0 grams per 100 grams. However, the refining process it undergoes may result in a reduction of natural antioxidants and potentially higher levels of trans fats compared to unrefined olls.

 

If you want to be sure that your EVOO is indeed what it says it is then the best way is to source directly from the press house – which Frantoi does for you!