The Importance of Green Olives
It may surprise you to hear the colour of your olive is purely an indication of maturity. All olives begin green and only when they mature do they take on flecks of purple and eventually become black.
Green Olives, indicating harvest in autumn (we are in the thick of it in the northern hemisphere) have a firm texture, naturally higher acidity, brighter flavours and importantly a far higher antioxidant content. They are however harder to work with in the frantoio and yield a smaller quantity of oil. The Malaxing process is therefore more complicated and needs constant monitoring to ensure good extraction.
At the other end of the spectrum, black olives picked at the beginning of winter are softer, more buttery and give a higher yield which is why they are often a major component in mass produced Olive Oils. Worse still is what we would probably describe as wind-falls that are collected bruised from the ground as late as January. The oil from such olives produces a quality of oil known in Italy as lampante – the oil that would have been used to light the lamps. You may find a proportion of this in regular super market olive oils sold as Extra Virgin.
The olives used by the frantoio owners that we work with come from the beginning of the harvest window and are green. You can expect these oils to be fully flavoured, distinctively true to their origin and cultivar and extremely good for you, particularly in the first 4-5 months after you receive them (they are good for you for the duration of their shelf life of course, but the polyphenol content does drop back a little as the oils age). It’s important to know what you are eating don’t you think?