HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT OLIVE OILS AND VINEGARS.
Q: What makes your oils and vinegars ‘all natural’?
Nothing is added but the named natural ingredients and that’s it.
In the case of our blended oils they all begin life as Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil from our partner’s own organic olive grove in Tunisia on the Southern Mediterranean. The named (garlic, basil etc.) essential oil is then added to our infused oils, or in the case of the fused oils (like blood orange) the fruit & olives are crushed together to produce the oil.
Same is true of our Balsamic Vinegars, only the named natural extract (strawberry, apricot etc.) is added and NOTHING else!
Q: What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil? (Or EVOO as it is now commonly known)
EVOO comes from ‘first touch’ oil production only – the use of only physical means, with no added heat or chemical (hexanes – also used in gasoline!) treatment. Common EVOO contains no more than 0.8% FFA (Free Fatty Acid %), and is judged to have a superior taste. Southampton Olive Oil Company’s Ultra Premium EVOO is even lower, having under 0.3% FFA! Extra Virgin Olive Oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries.
Q: What is the best way to store oil?
Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age. Enemies of olive oil’s longevity are light, heat, oxygen and time. Reducing any of these factors will increase the useful life of your oil and retain its peak flavour longer. The best place to store the oil is in a cool, dark place. Not the fridge, but a pantry, cellar or cool cupboard.
Q: What is the shelf life of olive oil?
Olive oil is a fresh fruit oil and just like any other fruit juice, over time, the quality and taste deteriorate. We recommend that you use your oil within 3 to 6 months and no longer than a year from the time it is bottled, so that you can reap the benefits of what a fresh oil provides.
Do not SAVE your fresh olive oil SAVOUR it at every turn!
Q: What’s the difference between fused and infused oils?
Fused olive oil or what is also referred to as ‘agrumato’ in Italy, is made by crushing ripe, sound olives with whole, fresh fruits, herbs or vegetables at the time of crush. Infusing is the process of adding flavour to olive oil after it has been made. For some, infusing olive oil is nothing more than an attempt to cover up poor quality, defective, old oil. Our infused oils use the freshest extra virgin olive oils available in our collection that are most aesthetically compatible with the natural products that are used to flavour them. Our ‘agrumato’ oils are some of the most fragrant, tasteful and award winning in the world.
Q: Are our oils filtered?
They are filtered, as well they are naturally settled or (racked) meaning that the oil is decanted when settled, leaving any sediment at the bottom to be discarded. Unfiltered oil has a much shorter shelf life due to the organic composition. If you are somewhere you can use olive oil that is literally right from the tree (a week or two), then ‘Olio Nuovo’ is wonderful. However, that is very little chance of that in a cold temperate climate like we have in Ontario.
Q: Can you cook with olive oil?
Absolutely. Different olive oils complement different foods and uses. Olive oil can be used for sautéing, browning, stir-frying, baking, roasting; as an ingredient in marinades and sauces such as mayonnaise, pesto, or chimmichurri; as a condiment, or drizzled over various dishes. Think about olive oil as you would wine. Use different olive oils for different purposes. Strong and robust extra virgin olive oils can be used for cooking fish, meat, to make marinades, or to drizzle on strongly flavoured ingredients like peppers or garlic. A medium intensity, well-rounded extra virgin olive oil is great on mozzarella or for bread dipping. We love it mixed with one of our balsamics to make a vinaigrette or drizzled on vegetables for roasting. A mellow late harvest oil could be used in baking a cake or to make mayonnaise. Keep in mind that abuse under heat will begin to deteriorate the phenols in olive oil, but the higher the quotient of phenols you start off with, the more you will typically be left with at the end of the application. Better chemistry correlates to being able to get the oil hotter before it begins to reach its smoke point, which is not desirable when heating any type of cooking oil. Oleic acid is not affected by heat and remains stable.
Q: What are the health benefits of EVOO?
Naturally packed with monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, not only can a good extra virgin olive oil lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, research has shown that it also provides a wide range of anti-inflammatory benefits that can positively impact illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and asthma.
- Olive oil raises HDL (beneficial cholesterol) levels, it provides greater protection against arteriosclerosis and coronary disease (angina and infarction) than any other oil, because it inhibits the oxidation of lipoproteins.
- High quality extra virgin olive oil, in particular, provides a high content of antioxidants, like polyphenols, vitamins E & K, chlorophyll and carotenoids. Antioxidants are key to strengthening the immune system and protecting the body from the damaging effects of free-radical molecules.
- Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory agents, like oleocanthal, that act as a natural ibuprofen-like substance.
- It is important to remember that EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is considered the best grade to deliver healthy benefits.
Q: How can your ‘All Natural’ Butter Olive Oil be vegan and dairy free?
Yes, this is our one product that can confuse people. It is all natural, made ONLY with botanicals. Not a single drop of butter was harmed (or used) in it’s production.
Indeed ALL of our Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars are 100% vegan and dairy free!
Q: What is Balsamic Vinegar?
There are three types of balsamic vinegars: DOP Traditional Balsamic, Condimento and Commercial.
- DOP Traditional Balsamic (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale): Produced from the juice of just-harvested white grapes (typically, Trebbiano grapes). The juice is cooked over an open wood fire and boiled down to approximately 30% of the original volume to create a concentrate or ‘must’, which is then fermented with a slow aging process which concentrates the flavours. The flavour intensifies over the years with the vinegar being stored in old, fired wood barrels which were used to age balsamic in years past. These barrels are made of different woods (chestnut, cherry, mulberry, juniper wood and oak) and become progressively smaller as the product becomes thicker and naturally evaporates over time. The barrels, as well as the product they once contained, add character to the must over time. Nothing is ever added to the cooked, caramelized must of DOP Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. It slowly ages in this manner and turns into “vinegar” by itself over the course of many years, hence the scarcity and price tag. If a particular producer’s balsamic meets very strict criteria, it is then certified DOP, wax sealed and numbered for individual sale. Furthermore, this product is never used for cooking. It is far too prized and expensive. For this reason, it is served drop by drop on a spoon after a meal and sometimes on a small piece of cheese.
- Condimento (our Balsamic Vinegars): The primary difference between DOP Balsamic and our condimento is that out of the gate ours is inoculated with a very small amount of premium quality aged red wine vinegar which introduces the natural acetic bacteria and yeast and begins the process from cooked grape must to Balsamic Vinegar Condimento. It is then aged (up to 18 years) using the Solera method as above. The juice is cooked over an open wood fire and boiled down to approximately 30% of the original volume to create a naturally caramelized (like cooking onions!) concentrate or must, which is then fermented with a slow aging process which concentrates the flavours . The similarity between our Balsamic Vinegar Condimento and DOP Traditional Balsamic is remarkable.
- Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (commercial): is a commercial grade product that imitates the traditional product. They are made of wine vinegar with the addition of colouring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like guar gum or corn flour to artificially simulate the sweetness and thickness of the aged Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. There is no ageing involved, and hundreds of thousands of litres can be produced every day.
Q: What is the difference between white and dark Balsamics?
To start, they are BOTH made from the same white Trebbiano grape family which grows in the region of Modena, Italy. The white balsamic condimento is less complex, aged up to 12 years, and is cooked at a lower temperature over an open wood fire in copper kettles, thus inhibiting the caramelizing that takes place in the hotter cooking of the dark condimento. The dark is aged in fired, old wood barrels that previously held older batches of balsamic. The white is aged in new wood barrels which have not been fired on the inside. The dark condimento has a rich dried fruit characteristic reminiscent of figs and raisins, whereas the white is a bit more acidic, and “cleaner” lacking the complexity of the fired wood, and caramelizing that occurs over open wood fires in the copper kettles.
Q: How should I store Balsamic vinegar?
Store in a cool, dark place, away from heat.
Q: I drink Apple Cider Vinegar because it is unpasteurized and loaded with probiotics, why should I use your Balsamic Vinegar?
Ditto here! All our Balsamic Vinegars are unpasteurized and loaded with probiotics and antioxidants. They are completely natural, no added sulphites, thickeners or caramel colouring. The ONLY added ingredients are the named natural ingredients!