Friday, 3 August 2012

Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil: how to do it and aspects to be considered

One of the main products of Spanish gastronomy is the so called ‘Green Gold’. The best olive oils in the world are produced in Spain, are a very healthy food (thanks to oleic acid, same as Spanish Cured Ham), and an excellent seasoning for our recipes also.

Olive oil is one of the most appreciated flavours of the world, but do we know how to tell its quality? Or appreciate the nuances of their different flavours? Here’s some small tips of how to make an olive oil tasting.

For an olive oil tasting, we must realize what aspects exactly we can rate with our senses. So, we can use the smell, sight, taste and touch. These help us in the analysis of aromas and flavours.

First of all we pour a bit of olive oil in a cup and cover it with a glass. In this way aromas are concentrated and will be easier to appreciate. After a few seconds uncover the cup and proceed to smell the oil with short breaths.

Then turn to taste it. Take a small sip of olive oil and scatter it around the mouth. We can perceive the four basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter) and the characteristic flavours of oil that we are tasting.

After that, we can evaluate the colour, fluency or feeling to the touch. You should wait more than fifteen minutes from one test to another to remove the remains of the mouth. Chewing a piece of apple a few seconds can help us. Once the tasting is made, we can ascribe different features:

Sweet touch: absence of bitter or spicy flavour.

Bitter touch: olive varieties are more bitter than others. Olive oil can be made with fresh green olives.

Green leaves: if the olive is very green and has been ground with pieces of leaves and stems, may have these nuances.

Grass: some oils remind freshly mown grass.

Fruity touch: remind the smell of fresh fruit at its peak of ripeness.

It’s also possible to perceive defects. Some of the easiest to tell are:

Sour oil: is reminiscent of vinegar.

Rancid oil: has had excessive contact with air.

Dull: oil that lost its aromas and flavours by aging or storage in places with excessive temperature. 

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