Finding the Best Olive Oil for Your Family
Growing up in Morocco, olive oil was an essential ingredient in my family’s kitchen pantry, and we were far from being an exception. In fact, Moroccans have a deep love relationship with olive oil which they stock in gallons at the beginning of every fall. It’s also a source of pride for them, as every family makes sure to source the best quality Moroccan olive oil.
It’s also very common for families in Morocco to be implicated in the olive oil-making process. Around the end of every summer, my father used to take us to an olive farm in the atlas mountains of Morocco to select the olives that would be pressed to make our olive oil. We would wait for the artisans to remove the stems and leaves, and accompany them to the pressing atelier where olives were crushed, malaxed, and centrifuged to get a fresh and extra-fragrant olive oil.
Moroccan Olive Oil
A special mention must be made of extra virgin Moroccan olive oil – not only because I am of Moroccan origins, but certainly because it is a known connoisseur’s treat. Moroccan oil has in fact won many reputable olive oil contests like the London International Olive Oil Competition and the Japan Olive Oil Prize. Moroccan extra virgin Moroccan oils from reputable brands are a top-tier quality product attained from pressing with no chemical treatment.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Moroccan Olive Oil
While the organic certification of olive oil can guarantee that certain pesticides and contaminants were not used, it still does not exclude the use of all contaminants. It also does not translate into quality. An organic Moroccan olive oil – like any other organic olive oil – can in fact be of low quality.
What makes a high-grade and tasty Moroccan olive oil is inherently linked to how the olive trees were cultivated, the quality of water used, as well as if contaminants such as mineral oils, pesticides, and plasticizers were avoided.
Avoiding preservatives in olive oil is indicative of the quality of your argan oil, this being said, this also means that your olive oil may decline quicker in quality over time compared to olive oil which making-process included the use of preservatives. That’s why it’s important to check the harvested date (more on that later).
Moroccan Olive Oil Health Benefits
Olive oil in general has been highly praised for its health benefits, associated with the popular Mediterranean diet. The reason is the lipid profile of olive oil: almost 80% of omega 9 fatty acids and low in omega 3. It is also rich in antioxidants which come from polyphenols, tocopherols, and vitamin E. According to many studies, regular use of olive oil reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and inflammatory diseases.
Moroccan olive oil may even offer more nutrients than olive oils from other countries. In fact, studies suggest that olives grown in arid regions are denser in nutrients, which is the case of Moroccan olives grown in the arid atlas moutains.
Olive Oil Fruitiness
The fruitiness of olive oil is classified according to three categories of taste and is mostly defined by the stage of maturity of the olives used.
1. The Green Fruitiness
Olives harvested before full maturity have “green fruitiness”. The crop has a purpureus color, meaning it is changing from green to mauve. The result is a desirable aromatic oil rich in polyphenols with herbaceous overtones. A skilled nose will detect elements of artichoke, pepper, and green fruits.
At this stage, the oil is bitter and pungent. The extraction process or trituration is done at the optimal time of maximum freshness.
2. Ripe Olives
The degree of ripeness is vital and relates to the time of harvest. Fully ripe fruit is black and less bitter. It has a softer flavor and is a bit fiery. That skilled nose will detect almond, red or yellow fruits, lime blossom, or floral aromas.
3. Dark Fruitness
Dark fruitiness in olive oil is obtained from an age-old fermentation process under controlled conditions to obtain a creamy oil. The right amount of oxygen, temperature, and timeframe are relevant to attain aromas of cocoa, mushrooms, and undergrowth.
Olive Oil with Single Origin vs. Multiple Origins
An olive oil with a single origin means the olives come from the same olive plantation. You will be surprised to know that it is common for olive oil brands to mix olive oils from different regions, if not different countries. It helps them keep their prices stabilized.
Having an olive oil will different origins will likely make a lower quality olive oil, and the taste profile will often be bland.
The information about the origin (or origins) of your olive oil will usually be displayed on the bottle.
Virgin vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The designation “extra” pertains to certain sensory criteria and the use of the best fruit in known regions of the country as defined by the International Olive Council (IOC). An extra virgin olive oil will be of higher quality and will be more flavorful than a virgin olive oil.
How to Preserve Olive Oil
To preserve the quality, good oil must be stored in a cool, dry place. It must not be exposed to excess light and heat as it is susceptible to oxidation and will become rancid. Using an oil cruet for daily cooking is best so the bottle can remain shelved.
Pay attention to any indication of “best used before…” since olive oil does not age well unlike wine. If you don’t have the ‘’best used before …’’ mention, you can tell by the harvest date – when provided – as the best taste is retained during that particular year.
How to Use Olive Oil?
Gourmets love the intense rusticity of extra virgin olive oil, with is very rich in taste. It can be savored like a fine wine drizzled on salads, sauces, dips, and soups.
For cooking, you don’t need to go that extra mile and use extra virgin olive oil. In fact. virgin olive oil will be enough as the heat destroys some of the flavors.
It is wise to have both on hand, virgin and extra virgin olive oil.
The Best Moroccan Olive Oil
In conclusion, extra virgin Moroccan olive oil is best if you are planning to use it raw in sauces, salads, and other dishes. It will give the strongest flavor and will keep its nutrient-rich profile. Do not pay attention to packaging, it really does not matter to quality.
Traditional extraction methods provide the best olive oil, and always always choose an olive oil with a single origin. Mina extra virgin olive oil is one of the few olive oil brands that check all the boxes. It’s fresh, rich in nutrients, made without pesticides or conservatives, and with a single origin. The flavor is strong and exactly how a pure, premium olive oil should taste like.
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