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10 essential questions about olive oil!

10 essential questions about olive oil!

An interview with Mrs. Dina Gkroymoyti from Athinorama

Some key and meaningful answers from Yannis Karvelas on the basic information that consumers need to know about purchasing the right olive oil, but also the importance of the best practices in terms of production, harvesting and olive oil making...

The olive and olive oil season. Every year, the whole country eagerly awaits olive harvest time, which will produce the most basic and favourite product of the Greeks since ancient times, olive oil. A product that is found daily on our tables; we are in fact the country with the highest olive oil consumption in the world! Here though, lies a paradox: the overwhelming majority of the population has incorrect or incomplete information on the subject of 'olive oil '. From the producer, which follows wrong practices, to the consumer who buys without knowing how to even distinguishing between olive varieties. This is of great importance, firstly for our health, but also for taste and enjoyment.

In recent years, exceptional producers have emerged and there are now some very good olive oils on the market. Specialised seminars aimed at both professionals and consumers are also on the rise. But ask fellow shoppers in the supermarket if they look for "Extra virgin olive oil", if they know what they are buying. And if they purchase olive oil in bulk directly from a producer, how can they be sure that the oil is unadulterated and "extra virgin"?

-What are the differences between the types of olive oil on the market?

-Extra virgin olive oil, which apart from its low acidity, is defined by its organoleptic properties and an olive oil that has been produced only by physical and mechanical means, with incredible aroma and taste, free acidity of no more than 0.8% and other characteristics that correspond to those fixed in the EU regulation 2568/91. Then there is Virgin olive oil, which has an acidity of up to 2.0% and a small organoleptic defect (muddy, rancid, etc.); olive oil, which is an industrial product produced by treating low-quality Virgin olive oil; and finally oil, which is a mixture refined olive seed oil and virgin olive oil with an acidity not exceeding 1%.

-What are the most serious mistakes we make when choosing olive oil?

-Referring to an olive oil as "Extra virgin" considering only the acidity. Olive mills produce "Virgin olive oil" which requires organoleptic evaluation and chemical analyses in order to be deemed "Extra virgin". That is, to find the positive properties (fruity, bitter and spicy) without any negative qualities (muddy, rancid, winey, metallic, musty).

A second mistake is that we evaluate the colour of olive oil. Colour tells us absolutely nothing. A few extra olive leaves alone can give a virgin olive oil a misleading deeper green color, which most people consider a sign of superior quality! Even experienced olive oil tasters should always try their samples in dark blue glass glasses so as not to be influenced by the colour of each sample.

-How can we ensure that we are actually buying "Extra virgin olive oil" but also in general, unadulterated oil? We still often hear of such cases.

-This is a particularly serious problem, especially in northern Greece, but also in Attica (Athens) there are many street sellers, who unfortunately provide large volumes to individuals, small shops, and even hotels. The problem is enormous, in terms of not only the adulteration but also regarding the sale of defective Virgin olive oil. The Greek perception that when buying in bulk from a street seller means buying from a producer is a big problem in the sale of all foods.

So, it's straightforward:

-Avoid buying olive oil from street and anonymous sellers

-Buy a branded product to be on the safe side

-Buy from sales outlets where the product can be returned

* Yiannis Karvelas is a business consultant, Director of PARATUS Europe, a certified Pro Olive Oil Expert and an olive oil educational program instructor. The photos are from his personal collection.

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