Available in a variety of diverse, distinctive and subtle flavors, Spanish olive oil heightens the flavor of your favorite meals. It provides health benefits that contribute to a longer life.
As with wine, the region, climate and variety all help determine the flavor of Spanish olive oil. The most significant influence on taste, however, centers on the harvesting season and processing procedures.
How the Harvesting Season Determines Flavor
Although olive trees may produce crops for several months, the time of harvest significantly affects the overall flavor of the oil. In the earliest months, olives produce oils with a bitter, stronger flavor. Later harvests tend to be milder and buttery.
Mature green olives harvested in the fall produce a sharp flavor many refer to as peppery, grassy or woody. Those harvested in early winter are ripe, purple or black, and produce a smoother, fruitier gold-colored product.
How Processing Affects Flavor
How olives are handled post-harvest dramatically affects the final taste of the product. Freshly picked fruits are crushed whole at the processing mill. They are packed into a mash and centrifuged or pressed to free the oil from the fibrous fruit.
Pressed olives are left to sit until the oil separates and floats to the top away from the heavier impurities. Centrifuged fruit is processed twice to ensure that no impurities remain in the final product.
The separated olive oil is left to age between three to six months. The longer the aging process, the less bitter the taste.
Ways to Protect the Flavor of Spanish Olive Oil
When you first purchase olive oil, it's likely to be at its most flavorful state. Unfortunately, as time goes by, the taste tends to diminish or change.
To preserve the flavor, store the product in a dry, dark, and cool place; such as a cupboard or pantry. Light and heat will degrade the oil and refrigerators create condensation that may dilute the oil and hasten spoilage.
Make Your Oil Last
When purchasing Spanish olive oil, you truly do get what you pay for. If you've spent a pretty penny on a particular import, make it last by stocking an inexpensive brand as well.
Use the less quality product for cooking and save the high quality stuff for salads and uncooked dishes. This will allow you to savor the taste of fine imported products without having to constantly reorder or make trip after trip to your local market.
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