Taste | The Olive Oil Source


A Reader

On the page called How to Pick an Olive Oi, does The Olive Oil Source contradict itself when it makes these two statements?
a. Extra virgin olive oils can be anything from very delicate and mellow to quite bitter and pungent.
b. Extra Virgin = High Quality Olive Juice + Good Taste.

The Olive Oil Source

Thank you for your question. We believe they are both true and that there is no contradiction.

I think your question may have come from the perception that bitterness and pungency are negative attributes of olive oil, but this is not the case. Some of the best olive oils in the world, winners of the most prestigious international olive oil competitions, are quite bitter and pungent. On the other hand, there can be delicious mild and buttery olive oils, espcially when paired with mild tasting food, for instance a mild mozzarella.

Bitterness is considered a positive attribute for several reasons. It works very well when paired with stronger and/or more acidic tasting foods. It is indicative of oil made from freshly harvested and not too ripe olives. The bitterness is due to a high content of antioxidants (polyphenols) which is one of the most healthy component of olive oil.

Pungency is also considered a positive attribute. Just like bitterness, some foods are best paired with a more pungent oil. In addition, recent studies are showing that oleocanthal, which is one of the ingredients that gives the oil a pungent taste, may have a very positive impact against cancer. It may induce cancer cell death.

Finally, may be the simplest answer to your question is that “Good” is matter of taste. Some people like oils with strong pungency and bitterness, others prefer a very mild and delicate oil. The important thing for an oil to be extra virgin is that it must have some taste. It cannot be completely tasteless.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

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