These are the most frequently asked questions about our olive oils and balsamic vinegars:
Where is your olive oil from?
That depends on the time of the year. We import from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Countries in the North (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, California) produce olive oil in the fall (Oct-Nov). Countries in the South (Peru, Chile, Australia, South Africa) produce in the spring (April-May). Our supply flips every 6 months to favour the most recent olive harvests globally. We only import from producers that meet our standards and our Olive Oils go through rigorous testing before making it to our shelves.
Where is your balsamic from?
All of our balsamics are from Modena, Italy, a region that has been producing balsamic since the Middle Ages. Modena is often considered the birthplace of balsamic vinegar.
How is balsamic made?
Balsamic is made from grape must, a grape juice from the Trebbiano grape primarily, cooked down to 30% of it’s initial volume. The must is then fermented and aged in a series of wooden barrels, sometimes for up to 25 years, slowly building the deep, complex flavors of the final balsamic vinegar.
White and Rose balsamics are created slightly differently. They use pinot grigio and pinot nero grapes, but instead of being aged for at least 12 years, they are only aged for 3-5 years.
In order for it to be considered a REAL dark balsamic from Modena, it must follow strict rules, the main rules being :
- Must be produced in Modena or neighboring Reggio Emilia in Italy
- Must be made from grapes grown in one of those two places
- Must be aged in wooden barrels for no fewer than 12 years.
How is the flavour infused into the olive oil and the balsamic?
There are two methods we use to flavour our olive oils. Infused oils are made by taking an extra virgin olive oil and steeping it with herbs, etc, or by crushing those ingredients for their oils and adding them to the extra virgin base. Fused (also called Agrumato) olive oils are made my crushing the olives with the ingredients at the initial milling! In the example of the Aji Green Chili Fused olive oil, whole chilis were crushed with the olives to combine the flavours.
To flavour the balsamics, additional fruits are dried and crushed for their juices. These are added to the aged balsamic base and allowed to continue in the aging process. The simplicity of this process is beautiful. There are no artificial additives in any of the balsamic or olive oils we carry.
Is your Olive Oil extra virgin?
When it comes to olive oil, we demand the very best for our products. The extra virgin standard, by definition, is actually quite low. Extra virgin simply means the oil is the first crush of the olives, the olives were pressed cold, and that it is pure olive oil with no other ingredients added. This means that if you took rotting windfall (ground) olives, or olives that sat in a truck for two weeks before pressing, that became bruised and fermented, and crushed them by extra virgin standards, you could still call it extra virgin olive oil, even though the final quality of the oil would be compromised. That is because the quality of the initial olives was very poor, but the extra virgin standard doesn’t account for this. Our oils are technically extra virgin, first press and cold pressed and technically organic, (with no pesticides or chemicals used during the harvest and crushing process). The testing our oils go through guarantees that the oils are pure and haven’t been cut with another low-grade “filler” oil, like canola or sunflower oil. We also test for other marks of quality and handling, including polyphenols counts, and concentrations of free fatty acids, oleic acid, peroxide and DAGS.
Is your olive oil First Press and Cold Pressed?
Every olive oil we sell, whether it’s an extra virgin or a naturally-flavoured oil, is Cold Press/Cold Extraction and First Press/Extraction. These terms speak to how the olive oil is made: olives are crushed into a paste and the oil is extracted from that paste. These days many facilities have modernized to use a centrifuge to remove the oil from the olive paste, instead of a traditional press, so we use the term EXTRACTION to apply to both traditional and modern processes.
Cold Press/Cold Extraction – Mechanical separation of oil from the fruit and water solids takes place at 50-85 degrees F
First Press/First Extraction – The olive paste was only pressed ONCE to remove the oil. (In some facilities hot water is added to the paste after the first press and then the olive paste is pressed/extracted again.)
What’s the difference between organic extra virgin olive oil and non-organic extra virgin olive oil?
The simplest answer is that they should be almost the exact same oil. Because they’re both the olive oil grade Extra Virgin, they both are made from the first press (or extraction) of the olives. They both have the same requirements for acidity, chemical make up and sensory tests, (no defects), that allow them to be called Extra Virgin. Since the olive tree is largely impervious to bug infestations, most producers don’t need to use pesticides or find it necessary to pay for the organic certification.
Can you cook with olive oil?
Yes, absolutely! Fresh, high quality olive oil not only adds beautiful flavour to almost any meal, it also is chemically perfect as a cooking oil. When olive oil is fresh and of a high grade, it will have a high concentrations of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect the oil from oxidization produced by heat, making it stable at high temperatures (up to 450-500°F) and raising it’s smoke point. Fresh olive oils will also have a low concentration of Free Fatty Acids, which is what burns when an oil smokes. Free fatty acids build up as an oil ages, so it’s important to use the oil when it’s as close to it’s harvest date as possible. Oils should be kept no older than a year after they’re harvested for maximum performance. We recommend using at least a Medium – Robust intensity extra virgin olive oil for cooking, as these have the highest concentrations of the polyphenols and are most resistant to heat.
What if I want to learn more about olive oil?
Check out our Health page for a full list of the benefits attributed to consumption of high quality extra virgin olive oil or come in for a visit! Another amazing resource is this book: Extra Virginity The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oilby Tom Mueller. There is also a website called Olive Oil Times that provides up-to-date news and information about the worldwide olive oil industry.
What can flavoured oils and vinegars be used for?
Check out our Recipes online for some awesome ideas! We regularly bake with them, add them to veggies, use them for marinades, stir fries, and of course, salads! There are even certain oils and balsamics that make lovely dessert condiments or mixed drinks! The sky is the limit! Using olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a healthy way to add all-natural flavour without artificial ingredients or unwanted sugar and salt.
How long will the product keep?
Olive Oil is best consumed within 14 – 16 months of it’s harvest date (the harvest date is one of the most important things you can know about your oil!) year at best, but oil is so regularly used, that you will use it up by then. Balsamic vinegar on the other hand can keep up to three years, as the product doesn’t diminish. Some settling may occur.
How should olive oil and balsamic be stored?
Both the balsamics and olive oils should be kept in a cool, dark place away from the stove or other sources of heat. Heat will speed of the decline of the olive oil. You do not have to keep olive oil or balsamic in the fridge, though doing so will mildy increase their shelf lives. Olive oil may congeal at cooler temperatures, taking on a cloudy appearance of solidifying. This does not damage the oil, and it will return to normal once it has warmed up.
How does a Private Tasting Party work?
The standard in-store tasting party is best for groups between 10-40 people, and is priced at $15 per person. We walk the group through “Olive Oil 101”, where we educate customers about olive oil quality, heath, and uses, and allow groups to sample the best extra virgin and flavoured olive oils from around the world. We move into the second stage where the group is exposed to aged balsamics from Modena. Then we do several small workshops where individuals build salad dressings and pairing for a garden salad, a fruit salad, and finally, dessert! Cheeses and breads are provided if charcuterie is purchased. Wine is optional – group members may bring their own. The events usually last 1.5-2 hours. They are delicious, fun and informative. Price will vary if custom or more complicated appetizers are requested. etc. To request custom appetizers, an alternate venue, an Olive Oil Co. booth at your event, or to book a party, give us a call at 705-792-0300.
Can I bring back/refill my bottles?
Yes! Currently we are accepting returns of bottles. If you bring your bottle back CLEAN AND DRY, we give you $1 off your next bottle. Barrie Stores Only! We also have a reusable bag that holds 4 wine bottle-sized bottles and costs $2 but gives you $1 off any purchase – lifetime – when you bring it with you to shop!
Tell me about your customer loyalty program?
Every time you purchase at an Olive Oil Co. Barrie and Newmarket Shop, your purchase is attributed to the name and telephone number associated with your account. You earn a % of all purchases and that amount can be applied against any purchase (after the first one) or collected until you wish to redeem.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil – Short List
It Can Help Lower Your “Bad” Cholesterol
Olive Oil Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
Eating Olive Oil Can Help Prevent Cancer
It Protects from Oxidative Damage
Olive Oil Can Help Cognitive Function
How much of a good thing?
When looking at the different studies in regards to the protective effect of olive oil for various conditions the amount generally ranges between 25 and 40 grams per day, or about 2-3 tablespoons.
Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar – Short List
Low in Calories
Normalizes Blood Pressure
Stabilizes Cholesterol Levels
Keeps Your Blood Glucose Levels Steady
Do you sell online?
Yes – at OliveOilCo.ca we offer all of our oils and balsamics for shipment across Canada. Orders over $100 are shipped free and under $100 there is a flat rate ship cost of $20.