Like the rest of the culinary and wine world, olive oil is a blend of art and science. It can be appreciated purely for its hedonistic qualities; the aromas, tastes and textures and the way they intermingle with and enhance the food it accompanies. Or it can be examined from a strict analytical perspective. The hedonistic qualities we enjoy can be explained, and compared, based on a range of clinical tests that study the molecular makeup of the oil.
Now, just as we don't have to know chemistry to know why we enjoy a glass of wine, the numbers behind good olive oil won't help if we don't simply like it. But, because olive oil is good and good for you, it's helpful to know a bit about the various numbers that olive oil experts look at in evaluating olive oil. It's particularly helpful in this era of seemingly rampant fraud in the olive oil industry. If olive oil is important to you in your diet, then you owe it to yourself to know a bit about the chemistry behind growing and making it.
Our General Manager, Samantha Dorsey, has put together a handy chart: California Blend 2018 Technical Data, shown below, that outlines the primary chemical attributes that determine extra virginity, with simple explanations, along with the polyphenol count of our new California Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Note that polyphenol levels have nothing to do with extra virginity; the antioxidant benefits of polyphenols can be quite high in very bad oil, and exeedingly low in outstanding oils. The quality factors that make up extra virgin olive oil generally have to do with the levels of oxidation and freshness in the oil. Light absorption, non-oil substances, and the conversion of certain fatty acids are all measurable and provide a fingerprint of the oil that will indicate its age, freshness and purity. In a nutshell, oil is degraded by light, heat, water and time, and a basic understanding of the test results that measure these effects will greatly inform your decisions when choosing an olive oil.
California Blend 2018 Technical Data