Why pay attention to these features anyway? I share with you brief thoughts and guidelines on the subject.
Bitterness in a vegetable or drink often provokes a grimace and unconsciously brings us back to those unpleasant childhood memories of cough syrup. And quite naturally we avoid such products because they are not particularly tasty to us. On the other hand, remember those chefs who indulge us foodies with spicy arugula paired with bitter gorgonzola? Or for the rich taste of bitter cocoa in dark chocolate with raspberries? If they are harmoniously combined, it is the sensations of moderate bitterness and expressive pepperiness that make the food come alive. What is captured here is not the peppery arugula or the scorching cocoa, but their appropriate combination with other ingredients, so that there is both harmony and delight.
Vegetables and plants with bitters are a reference to the beneficial polyphenols with antioxidant action that are given to us without making any effort. It is the same with olive oil: the more expressive the Bitterness and Spicy, the healthier the olive oil. These two characteristics are a sign of a quality and good extra virgin, and if they are absent at all, then this is a sure signal of a defect, mixing of oils – not necessarily olive or even overripe olives and lack of any character of the oil.
I have two pieces of good news here, even for the more skeptical of you.
First, good producers know how to balance them so that they are elegant and pleasant with food. Such olive oil cannot be forced upon you and you exclaim “Tomato salad is very sour”. If the feeling of bitterness is rough and very aggressive, then this definitely does not speak of high quality, craftsmanship and purity of the product. Origin and manufacturer really matter, pay more attention to them.
Fortunately, in the last years even the generic category “Olive Oil” has started to make small but confident steps towards more specific preferences such as “I buy olive oil from Crete because it is very aromatic”, “I like early harvests because of their greenness” “, “I liked the picual variety of hundred-year-old trees, because it is multi-layered”, etc.
Second, there is something for everyone: nature has given us over 1,200 varieties of olives with different flavors and intensities of bitter and peppery, so our choice of spicy olive oil depends on us and what we are cooking. Just like with wine or coffee – we like them more lively or with more moderate acidity, and depending on the food and our preferences we choose fruitier, more floral, more mineral, sweeter, etc. guilt.
To the already known varieties from Italy, Spain and Greece, I will add a few from Turkey and Croatia in the small guide below. It comes to support your choice in a store, at an exhibition, a festival or at a manufacturer:
Soft olive oils – lechino, tajaska, oliarola, mignola, arbequina, kalamata, manaki, ajvalak
Medium olives – peranzana, charolea, nocellara del bellice, cazaliva, cornicabra, ohiblanca, mansania, coroneiki, chondrolea, amphisis, macri, patrini, trillie, bouja
Intense Olive Oils – Moraiolo, Frantoio, Intoso, Itrana, Coratina, Picual, Early Harvest Koroneiki, Early Harvest Tsunatti, Memecik, Istrian Bielica
As a rule, the early harvests are one idea more pronounced Spicy and Fruitiness than the standard ones, and the blends are balanced by the blending of oils.
Finally, I will provoke you: when you are on the road among olive trees, try a green olive.
Your face will contort into a grimace of bitter, astringent, acrid, and your tongue will begin to steam. These are the precious polyphenols, it is they that distinguish olive oil from any other – you have hardly had such a feeling from chewed sunflower or grape seeds. When you taste a good and harmonious olive oil, however, there is no trace of this grimace, those unpleasant sensations have been transformed into a noble and elegant bitterness and spiciness. In character. Choose these olive oils because you and your food deserve the best.