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Our Story

Beyond the Olive is a customer favorite and is recognized as a premier reliable source for quality California Extra Virgin Olive Oils, vinegar and other quality products.  With A Gold Medal at this year's New York International Olive Oil Competition, the only North American Olive Oil to win a medal at Toronto’s International Olive Oil Competition, 6  consecutive wins as Best Specialty Food Store, four medals at the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition and being named "One of the 10 best places in the World to buy EVOO", customers have grown to love and trust this local, family business, founded in 2009.

 

Our Values 

  • Integrity in everything we do

  • Quality products and service

  • Building strong relationships

  • Commitment to the community

 

We stand hard and fast to our Mission and Values.  We continue to seek out the best products for your enjoyment.  We  have the flexibility and integrity to source from multiple small sustainable farms for the best flavor profiles.  That means our products will change from year to year and sometimes even month to month.  We are constantly tasting and evaluating oils and vinegars to bring you the best. 

 

Our Mission

The mission of Beyond the Olive is to provide our customers with the knowledge to accurately assess the quality of extra virgin olive oil and provide you with access to the greatest extra virgin olive oil that California has to offer. We accomplish this by providing education on the production, varieties and attributes of extra virgin olive oils and allowing consumers to taste the subtleties in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.   

In the beginning... 

Liquid Gold!  That amazing shock of tasting something so much better than anything one could find in a supermarket was the inspiration that lead to the creation of Beyond The Olive.  Since the beginning we've learned as much as we can from world renown chefs, farmers and millers, enrolled at UC Davis to become a master taster and most recently, award winning blender.

By sharing our knowledge and product, a consumer trust and loyalty has developed that continues today.

Today, we integrate this well-rounded knowledge into a first-class shopping experience by providing an interactive, relaxed and informative atmosphere for the novice who seeks delicious, healthy food and the epicurean who seeks to enhance their cooking experience.   

We want to bring you the best epicurean experience you can have: one you can take home to use in your own kitchen.  Come in and sample our products.  You’ll be glad you did!

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How it all started..

a grinding stone!

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We love a good picnic, a good friend, a good concert, a good book… but most importantly, we love celebrating life and living well! Bon Appetite!

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Beyond The Olive In The News

Positive synergy indeed! 

Beyond the Olive is different than the other olive oil stores.  We only carry exclusively produced and bottled in California extra virgin olive oil – not shipped over and imported from Europe. This way we can control the product.  Our  partners are small producers.  We are committed to supporting our local economy, and California crops. 

We are a small business, doing our best to share our passion with the world. Come visit, taste, learn and let us share our love of olive oil with you.   

 


Taking Pasadena Beyond The Olive

 

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As featured on PasadenaIndependent.com read original article here

Epicure Lisa Grabow recently posted an Instagram picture with the caption “I’ve got olives in my pockets, olio nuovo in my mouth and hand and customers on my mind. A delicious day!” It neatly sums up why she can accurately call her business Beyond the Olive.

Grabow’s involvement with Beyond the Olive came when friends Chip and Crystal Reibel called on her to carry their products in her gourmet food shop, The Bea’s Knees. Before long, the shops merged into one mecca of deliciousness.

“Their plan became a reality as a store in Old Town Pasadena in 2009, which is noted as one of the ‘10 Great Places to Buy Olive Oil in the World’,” remarked Grabow. “Today, we have an in-depth selection of California extra-virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, wines, spirits, international cheeses, and a deli specializing in cheese boards.”
In many ways, the shop serves as a monument to California products. A Pasadena native, Grabow regularly tours the state to visit olive groves, meet the millers and learn as much as she can.

“I love all things California—especially our agriculture. I’ve never had a Georgia peach, Texas grapefruit or Florida orange that can compare to anything grown in our great state,” said Grabow. And while vinegars from Modena do grace the shelves at Beyond the Olive, she cautions her clients against grocery store oils—even the ones from Italy.

 

Beyond the Olive owner, Lisa Grabow

“Grocery store-brands have best by-dates that are three years from harvest. Olive oil is likely to go rancid that far out. We don’t sell anything older than a year from harvest,” she said. “And Italy actually exports more extra-virgin olive oil than they produce because they blend the oil with cheaper oils or import oils from other countries and put a ‘made in Italy’ label on it—which once upon a time insured quality, but doesn’t anymore.”

Grabow’s depth of knowledge paired with that of her staff has led to some pretty serious accolades. Along with several wins as Best Specialty Food Store (and even Best Grilled Cheese) from local publications, Beyond the Olive brought home gold and bronze medals for their signature blends at the 2017 Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition. For Grabow, flavor inspiration is found in her city and its people.

 

“We have an incredible customer base. I listen carefully to their health needs, cooking habits and flavor profiles and curate flavors that they want to use,” she said, perfecting flavors like the spicy Pasadena Blend and Porcini Sage. And while Grabow recognizes it’s fun to browse, she affirms that small businesses make communities more vibrant.

“If you don’t want your neighborhood to look like an industrial park or walk past numerous vacancies, and you take pleasure in the shopping experience of a unique store, then please support that store,” she said. “If you can see the difference, feel the difference, taste the difference, then please, pay the difference to keep indie stores alive!”

Beyond the Olive is located inside of Stats at 120 S. Raymond Avenue in Pasadena. Contact them at www.beyondtheolive.com | 626.844.3866 and check them out at the La Canada’s Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @beyondtheolive.

 

 

 


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Popularity surging as LA souvenir! Olive Oil & Vinegar Specialty Store “Beyond the Olive” (Google Translated from Japanese)

For souvenirs of traveling to the United States, I would like to present products and foods made in America that are not available in Japan. California, especially olive oil that is gaining popularity as a souvenir selected by tourists coming to Los Angeles.

This time we introduce Los Angeles’s olive oil & vinegar specialty brand “Beyond the Olive”, mainly based on olive oil made from California and vinegars of a wide variety of flavors.

 

 Born in California, olive oil made with California bred olive oil  The first thing you can see when you enter the store is a dark brown glass bottle aligned with the slurry and a large silver container filled with olive oil and vinegar that is set everywhere in the shop. A surprising assortment seems better to call “museum” than olive oil & vinegar specialty store.

Born in California, olive oil made with California bred olive oil

The first thing you can see when you enter the store is a dark brown glass bottle aligned with the slurry and a large silver container filled with olive oil and vinegar that is set everywhere in the shop. A surprising assortment seems better to call “museum” than olive oil & vinegar specialty store.

 
 Beyond the Olive’s olive oil is fresh, made from Californian olives. All the olive oil and vinegar sold in the store can be tasted, and we have about 18 kinds of olive oil at all times.

Beyond the Olive’s olive oil is fresh, made from Californian olives. All the olive oil and vinegar sold in the store can be tasted, and we have about 18 kinds of olive oil at all times.

 Popular number one is “Albequina”. Featuring buttery taste and mild fruity flavor, this olive oil is active in various dishes.

Popular number one is “Albequina”. Featuring buttery taste and mild fruity flavor, this olive oil is active in various dishes.

 
 “Early Harvest Albeqina” which is only received once a year. The stock for this year is only the items on the table of this picture. New items will be in stock around January 2017 so please look forward to it.  In addition to flavor oil’s classic “Garlic”, “Basil” and “Meyer Lemon”, the moment you put in your mouth, “Big smoked” smell like BBQ’s unique smoke, when you bake chocolate cake etc. A variety of lineups ranging from “Blood Orange” which seems to be fragrant, as well as unique items such as “Citrus Habanero” and “Persian lime”.

“Early Harvest Albeqina” which is only received once a year. The stock for this year is only the items on the table of this picture. New items will be in stock around January 2017 so please look forward to it.

In addition to flavor oil’s classic “Garlic”, “Basil” and “Meyer Lemon”, the moment you put in your mouth, “Big smoked” smell like BBQ’s unique smoke, when you bake chocolate cake etc. A variety of lineups ranging from “Blood Orange” which seems to be fragrant, as well as unique items such as “Citrus Habanero” and “Persian lime”.

 
 Unique vinegar flavors are arrayed!At Beyond the Olive, there are over 25 different vinegars in addition to a wide variety of olive oils!  “Raspberry & Basil Wine Vinegar”, “Champagne · Mimosa Wine Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar” from “Balsamic vinegar that seems to be delicious just by listening to names such as” pomegranate ” Espresso balsamic vinegar “and” pear · ginger · wasabi dark balsamic vinegar “,” A vinegar to such a magical flavor? “, And a unique taste vinegar which is surprised a bit is also prepared I will.

Unique vinegar flavors are arrayed!At Beyond the Olive, there are over 25 different vinegars in addition to a wide variety of olive oils!

“Raspberry & Basil Wine Vinegar”, “Champagne · Mimosa Wine Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar”, “Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar” from “Balsamic vinegar that seems to be delicious just by listening to names such as” pomegranate ” Espresso balsamic vinegar “and” pear · ginger · wasabi dark balsamic vinegar “,” A vinegar to such a magical flavor? “, And a unique taste vinegar which is surprised a bit is also prepared I will.

 
 The top seller is a balsamic vinegar “25 Star” which has been aged thoroughly for 18 years. It has a sweetness, which is characterized by its drought like syrup, and compatibility with flavor oil is outstanding.  The second most popular is “fig” flavor. This is also aged for 18 years, it is thick balsamic vinegar like melted chocolate, it contains grain of FIG.

The top seller is a balsamic vinegar “25 Star” which has been aged thoroughly for 18 years. It has a sweetness, which is characterized by its drought like syrup, and compatibility with flavor oil is outstanding.

The second most popular is “fig” flavor. This is also aged for 18 years, it is thick balsamic vinegar like melted chocolate, it contains grain of FIG.

 For souvenirs we recommend mini size or medium size!  Also, a seasonal flavor was developed at about once every 1 to 2 months, and when visiting the shop in early October, autumn flavor “pumpkin spice balsamic vinegar” was on sale.

For souvenirs we recommend mini size or medium size!

Also, a seasonal flavor was developed at about once every 1 to 2 months, and when visiting the shop in early October, autumn flavor “pumpkin spice balsamic vinegar” was on sale.

 There is still much! Original item of “Beyond the Olive”

There is still much! Original item of “Beyond the Olive”

 Besides olive oil and vinegar, stuffed olives (10 to 12 dollars) packed with various ingredients such as blue cheese and sun dried tomato, and various original jams are on sale.

Besides olive oil and vinegar, stuffed olives (10 to 12 dollars) packed with various ingredients such as blue cheese and sun dried tomato, and various original jams are on sale.

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Beyond the olive ( Beyond The Olive )

Address: 120 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105 Beyond the olive official site (English): Http://Www.Beyondtheolive.Com/

Bea’s Knees official site (English) : Http://www.thebeaskneespasadena.com/ Phone number: (626) 795-9308 Opening hours: 10: 00-18: 00 (Saturday – Saturday), 10: 00-17: 00 (Sunday) Closed: Monday

Author: Yuno Imai

Source: Popularity surging as LA souvenir! Olive Oil & Vinegar Specialty Store “Beyond the Olive” |


The Gemini Kitchen

June 3, 2016 · 

So I finally used up all of the Beyond the Olive Champagne Mimosa Vinegar and Blood Orange Olive Oil I bought at Artisanal LA and figured I'd "refill instead of landfill." I packed up the car and trooped out to Old Pasadena to have my beautiful bottles refilled at The Bea's Knees Wine Cheese Gifts & Cafe at 'The Shoppes at Stats'

Located across the street from - and what was once part of - the historic luxury Hotel Green, The Bea's Knees Wine and Cheese store is a magical gem on Raymond St. in Old Town Pasadena, CA. A California Historical Landmark, Hotel Green was built in 1893 and designed by Frederick L. Roehrig. It was home to the beginnings of the Tournament of Roses association.

The shop's friendly wine guru Robert Ramirez greeted us at the door of the iconic STATS Floral Supply building, and introduced us to their unique and super yummy vinegars and oils while he refilled my bottles.... Have a look!

ABC7Eyewitness KTLA 5 News Pasadena Star News


The highlight of this weekend's Artisanal LA experience was hands down the artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars from Beyond the Olive in Pasadena. Jennifer Scott takes us on a delicious tour of flavors like Champagne Mimosa Vinegar and Blood Orange Olive Oil, which I combined to make a vinaigrette for my Arugula and Fennel Salad with Apples and Olives. Next I'm going to try the Bordeaux Cherry Vinegar mixed with Strawberries over ice cream. The oils all come from California Olives.

All of the products come in beautifully etched bottles that can be refilled at The Bea's Knees Wine Cheese Gifts & Cafe at 'The Shoppes at Stats' in Pasadena in keeping with their motto "More Refills, Less Landfills."

They also ship!


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Pasadena Now >> Living

Food is a big part of the holiday season no matter what holiday you celebrate. From Halloween to New Years, food traditions bring us together.With that idea in mind, Lisa Grabow of The Bea’s Knees keeps a carefully curated selection of high quality foods in stock. Her gifts are perfect for the foodie who has everything or for the amateur chef in your life. Grabow recommends getting things started with their exotic salt bar and small containers of high-quality spices like ground ginger and truffle salt.The Bea’s Knees is located at 120 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena. Call (626) 795-9308 or visit www.thebeaskneespasadena.com for more information.


 Freshly baked goods: pumpkin pie and flour-less chocolate cake.

Freshly baked goods: pumpkin pie and flour-less chocolate cake.

It’s hard to think about the holidays without the food. Imagine Thanksgiving without the turkey (or turducken, if you’re feeling fancy) or Christmas without the gingerbread and eggnog.

But, with the holidays hustle and bustle, it can be hard to plate that perfect pie or curate a mouthwatering cheese board. There’s no shame in getting a helping hand from the kitchen elves at the Bea’s Knees. Nestled in the Shoppes at Stats, this gourmet eatery is a return to artisan foods. Lisa Grabow opened The Bea’s Knees 2 years ago by pulling food artisans from Chef Center, Pasadena’s commercial community kitchen.

Grabow focuses on local, Southern California food artisans. She has nougat made in Altadena, honey from Pasadena and olives grown in state, not to mention the appetizing selection of freshly baked goods, including pumpkin pie and flourless chocolate cake.

Order an all-American Apple pie to complete your next gathering. Drop off your own pie plate in advance for a dessert that truly feels homemade. The stunningly beautiful crust and sweet-but-not-too-sweet filling will leave your guests in a post-pie coma.

On the more savory side, a handcrafted cheese board is the perfect start to any celebration. Grabow has an impressive selection of cheeses and makes a point to source sustainable products. Cheese boards make a thoughtful hostess gift to the chef that has everything. Grabow recommends ordering a week in advance for parties of 20 or more.

“Food is what culturally brings us together,” said Grabow. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without it.

The Bea’s Knees is located at 120 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena. Call 626) 795-9308 or visit www.thebeaskneespasadena.com for more information.

Pasadena Now >> Living

Essentials for the Perfect Picnic

STAFF REPORTS

Thursday, July 21, 2016 | 7:55 pm

Although we enjoy sunshine all year long this is Pasadena, after all), summer remains the most popular season for eating outdoors. Pack your picnic basket and take your next meal outdoors. From gourmet fare to comfort food, there’s no wrong way to picnic. Follow these tips from Lisa Grabow, Owner of The Bea’s Knees in Old Pasadena and Amy Vigouroux, General Manager of The Kitchen for Exploring Foods.

Baskets and Bags

Packing a picnic is half the battle, luckily, The Bea’s Knees offers an array of picnic baskets from a wine and cheese-centric case to a large 4-person kit complete with a throw blanket. These wicker wonders come stocked with plates, utensils and cutting boards; many also have special compartments for wine or beer. Grabow adds that The Bea’s Knees packs custom picnics if you drop off your basket and give 24 advance notice.

For toting wine or beer, try a bag instead of a bottle. These collapsible flasks and bags make it easy to bring your favorite beverage without lugging around a bottle. In addition to wine and growler bags, Grabow also stocks stylish wine cases and carriers.

Sandwiches, Salads and Small Bites

Seasonal produce reigns supreme all summer. From citrus-infused salads to peach cobblers, the best place to draw inspiration is from the Farmer’s Market. The Kitchen for Exploring Foods has a daily selection of sandwiches and salads that can easily turn into a picnic. They also offer pre-order picnic boxes which come with a sandwich, salad and small dessert. Grab a nostalgic soda, like Bubble Up, when you pick up your food.

Sandwiches and salads are just the beginning. A picnic can also include fun items like chips, dips and charcuterie or cheese plates.

“A great cheese plate has something that will please everyone. It can cleanse and reinvigorate the palate,” Grabow.

She offers a rotating selection of cheeses – each with its own mini-history – and creates custom cheese plates with fresh fruit and nuts. She adds that cheese is ideal for a picnic because the flavor gets better with age.

Wine, Beer and Cider

Grabow adds that hard ciders are very popular in the summer because they are dry, bubbly and refreshing. The Bea’s Knees offers apple, cherry and oak barrel aged ciders. Grabow recommends pairing cider with creamier cheeses because the evanescence helps cut through the fat.

She also suggests a summer wine that cools the palate.

“Roses are the most popular because of their short shelf life – you wouldn’t want to go older than 2014 – and their nice fruitiness,” said Grabow.

Still, she doesn’t shy away from white, bubbly or even reds. In particular, she suggests Escudo Real’s Vinho Verde for its low alcohol content, so you can enjoy it without regret the next morning.

Don’t Forget Dessert!

Keep it simple with mess-free desserts like cookies and brownies. The Kitchen for Exploring Foods retails their ginger cream cookie sandwiches and has a selection of freshly baked goods on hand daily. Call ahead if you have your heart set on a sweet treat – otherwise stop by and be pleasantly surprised by mini-pies and cookie bars.

Stop by The Bea’s Knees for nostalgic jam thumbprint cookies filled with their homemade jam or chewy chocolate brownies and peanut butter cookies.

Expert Tips

“Sometimes a picnic is just for the sake of a picnic,” said Grabow.

While summer concerts and outdoor events are popular picnic times, there’s no need to have a reason to enjoy a picnic. Grabow adds that Pasadena is filled with picnic spots like Memorial Park, the Arroyo, the Rose Bowl and Laurel Canyon.

Vigouroux adds that food safety is important to remember, especially in the hot weather. Keep food chilled with ice packs or in a cooler and consume your picnic within two hours.

Happy picnicking!

Source: Pasadena Now >> Living

KABC, Los Angeles

 "What you need to know to pick right olive oil"

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Americans take a mere 24th place in the world when it comes to olive-oil consumption, which is too bad because it’s a heart-healthy fat with many benefits. But from cold pressed to flavored, there’s a lot you need to know before choosing the right type.

“The procedure for sampling and tasting olive oil is exactly like tasting wine. You’d take a sip, aerate the oil in your mouth, consume or swallow the oil and then exhale thorough your nose,” said Chip Reibel of Beyond the Olive in Pasadena.

He and Crystal Reibel own Beyond the Olive, where tastings help consumers learn more about olive oil, starting with color. “Color doesn’t mean anything with the flavor of olive oil. Mentally, people think, ‘Oh, it’s a bright green color, it’s going to be grassy, it’s going to be robust,'” Reibel said. A cobalt blue glass is used to disguise color and encourage use of taste and smell instead.

“What you really want to look for is a date of harvest or a best-when-used-by. There’s a very short shelf life on olive oil,” Crystal Reibel said. Crystal Reibel says olive oil goes rancid between six and twelve months, so don’t buy too much. “You want to make sure that when you do get your olive oil, that you keep it with an airtight pour,” she said. When it comes to storage, heat, light, air and time are the enemy, so store yours in a cool, dark pantry, not sitting on top of your stove. It’s also helpful to buy dark bottles to protect against light.

Then, there’s the term “extra virgin.” “It’s an olive oil made solely with olives, there’s nothing else added to it. It’s mechanically pressed within 24 hours of harvest, no chemicals added or heat,” Crystal Reibel said.

With over 600 growers and manufacturers of olive oil, California has government regulations on the term extra virgin, yet the United States does not have strict guidelines on imported olive oils, so Crystal says an imported extra virgin olive oil might possibly be a blend. The same holds true for “light” olive oil, which means light in taste, not light in calorie, and is also a blend. What does the term “cold pressed” mean on olive-oil bottles? “The first time that you extract the oil out of the olive paste is your first cold press, that’s your best quality oil,” Chip Reibel said. Finally, if buying a flavored olive oil, choose one where the fruit is crushed with the olives rather than infused versions for the best flavor.

(Copyright ©2010 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


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About Olive Oil

“What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil and what makes it better than plain old Olive Oil?”

An excellent place to start! “Extra Virgin” is a grade of olive oil, just as AA is a grade for eggs. This legal standard was defined by a group called the International Olive Council (IOC). To be “Extra Virgin” an olive oil must be made solely from olives and entirely by mechanical means—no solvents or chemicals. The olive oil must be processed without high heat; temperatures should be below 86° F. The free fatty acid level of the olive oil must be less than 0.8%. Also simply called the acidity, this is a measure of the freshness and quality of the olives that were used. The peroxide value of the oil must be < 20 meq/kg. This is a measure of oxidation, and a high peroxide value indicates that an olive oil will become rancid more quickly. There are some other chemical parameters used by the IOC, primarily indicating shelf life and to detect adulteration, but the free acidity and peroxide value are the biggies. Finally, in order to be “Extra Virgin,” an olive oil can have no flavor defects and must have some olive fruitiness when tasted by a trained, recognized taste panel. This means that there can be no rancidity, fermented flavors or any other off notes in an olive oil for it to be true extra virgin.

“So it’s a good thing the International Olive Council is on the job assuring quality for American consumers, right?”

Uh, wrong. The US is not part of the IOC. Recently, California and Connecticut both passed laws adopting the IOC standards, but enforcement is another issue. In the past, the term “extra virgin” could be used with impunity by any olive oil merchant regardless of the real grade of the oil (as long as it was made from olives). The US has been a dumping ground for low-quality olive oil for years. The majority of the imported “extra virgin” olive oil on US supermarket shelves could not be sold as extra virgin in Europe, because it isn’t really extra virgin grade. Hopefully this will change soon with the new laws on the books and enforcement in the wings.

“I always buy “Extra Light Olive Oil” – isn’t that better for me (less fat and calories)?” 

In our dreams. Notice that a few years ago the words “in flavor” materialized next to “extra light.” So the only thing you are getting less of is flavor. Calories and fat are the same. Even worse is the truth behind Extra Light in Flavor olive oil: it is primarily refined olive oil that has been flavored with a little bit of extra virgin. So you are paying a lot for refined olive oil.

“What is refined olive oil?” 

If you make olive oil from funky rotten olives you get a low-quality olive oil referred to as lampante (originally the grade used for burning in lamps). It tastes absolutely awful, so it is made palatable by refining. All the flavor, odor and color are removed in an industrial process and you are left with refined olive oil. (The gasoline in your car is "refined" too!) When some extra virgin is added to this refined oil for flavoring, you get a product called “Pure Olive Oil” or just “Olive Oil.” Add just a tiny bit of that extra virgin and you have “Light (in Flavor) Olive Oil.” For reference, you should be aware that virtually every vegetable oil on the market is refined: sunflower, safflower, rapeseed (aka canola), corn, soy. Extra virgin olive oil is a rare oil because it is so natural and unmanipulated.

“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I like the way Light Olive Oil tastes.”

 You are not alone. A lot of people like the fact that Light olive oil isn’t too strong. But instead of an industrial product like refined olive oil, look for a fresh mild extra virgin in all its natural glory. There are many olive oils that have delicate flavor profiles—perfect for someone who is just discovering this fabulous food. Remember also that refining removes the polyphenols, tocopherol and other compounds are that are part of what makes olive oil so good for you. Light Olive Oil makes an excellent furniture polish, by the way, and is good for revitalizing leather….

“What does ‘First Cold Press’ mean?”

In today’s olive oil world, “first cold press” is meaningless. Almost all olive oil is now produced using a centrifugal decanter, not a press at all, and it is a good thing. A centrifuge is faster and cleaner, allowing the production of the highest quality olive oil. For historical perspective, the term originates from the fact that in the old days there was a first cold press that squeezed out the first run oil. That left quite a lot of oil in the waste material (olive pomace), so there was a second hot press. That involved letting the olive pomace rot for a while to loosen the remaining oil, then mixing it with hot water and squeezing it again. Yum. Nowadays that happens at a refinery where they make olive pomace oil.

“I always buy Olive Oil that says, ‘Product of Italy’ on the label – it must be the good stuff, right?”

Uhhhh, no. The actual origin of the olive oil in these bottles now appears, so it is kind of fun. Look at the front it says “Product of Italy.” Look at the back and it says “May contain olive oil from Spain, Italy, Greece and/or Tunisia.” The best guarantee that you have a genuine product is to know the producer and have confidence in them. There is a system of guaranteed origins in place in the EU, the DOPs of Italy, the DOs of Spain; these give you an assurance that the oil originates in a particular region. “California” olive oil, on the other hand, does have real meaning in California law; if you say it is from California, it must be 100% California olive oil, produced from 100% olives.

“I keep my olive oil right next to the stove so that I remember to use it. Isn’t that a good idea?”

Try tying a string around your finger instead. Olive oil has four enemies: air, light, heat and time. Keeping olive oil next to the stove – a bright, warm place – will pretty well assure that it becomes rancid quickly. If it is in a clear bottle or decanter, that is much worse. Store olive oil in a cool dark place, tightly closed. And use it. Olive oil, unlike red wine, does not improve with age. Don’t hoard it or save it; use it. Figure that an olive oil is at its best for about a year after it is made. There is a lot of variability: very strong, early harvest oils can last longer, and delicate late harvest oils will taste tired after a year. This is because the polyphenols in olive oil are antioxidants. High polyphenol oils are naturally more resistant to oxidation than lower polyphenol olive oils. But all olive oils are better when they are fresh, so use them up!

 Olive oil attributes

The sensory evaluation of olive oil follows defined standards developed to determine the quality of an oil. The fact that there are more negative attributes than positive attributes reflects the importance of weeding out defective oils. The positive attribute “fruity” includes an entire world of olive oil flavor nuance and individuality; it is here that more descriptive detail paints a fuller picture of an olive oil. In 2007, the International Oil Council (IOC) added some additional descriptors for labeling purposes; these terms add more detail to the positive side of the evaluation equation.

The primary defects of olive oil

Fusty/Muddy Sediment – Characteristic flavor of oil obtained from olives stored in piles which have undergone an advanced stage of anaerobic fermentation. This flavor can also be obtained when oil has been left in contact with sediment which has settled in the bottom of underground tanks and vats which has also undergone a process of anaerobic fermentation.

Musty – Characteristic flavor of oil obtained from olives in which large numbers of fungi and yeasts have developed as a result of its being stored in humid conditions for several days.

Winey/Vinegary – Characteristic flavor of certain oil reminiscent of wine or vinegar. This flavor is mainly caused by a process of aerobic fermentation within the olives or in the olive paste left on pressing mats which have not been properly cleaned. This leads to the formation of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethanol.

Wet Wood/Frozen – Characteristic flavor of oil extracted from olives which have been injured by frost while still on the tree.

Rancid – Flavor of oil which has undergone a process of oxidation. 

The positive attributes of olive oil

Fruity – Characteristic taste of oil which depends on the variety and comes from sound, fresh olives, either ripe or unripe.

Bitter – Characteristic taste of oil obtained from green olives or olives turning color.

Pungent – Biting tactile sensation characteristic of oils produced at the start of the crop year, primarily from olives that are still unripe. This is commonly described as being “peppery”.

Optional terminology for labeling purposes from the IOC: 

Greenly fruity – Set of olfactory sensations characteristic of the oil which is reminiscent of green fruit, depends on the variety of olive and comes from green, sound, fresh olives.

Ripely fruity – Set of olfactory sensations characteristic of the oil which is reminiscent of ripe fruit, depends on the variety of olive and comes from sound, fresh olives, green or ripe.

Well-balanced – Oil which does not display a lack of balance, by which is meant the bitterness, pungency and fruitiness are all in harmony with the fruitiness being dominant.

Mild oil – Oil in which the bitter and pungent flavors are slight or not present. 

What makes an olive oil taste the way it does?

There are two major influences on the character of an olive oil: variety and maturity. There are other influences as well, such as climate, irrigation and processing method, but these usually have a lesser impact.

Olives can be harvested for oil at a wide range of ripeness, from completely green to completely black. (It should be mentioned here that all varieties of olives start off green and eventually turn black.) When a green olive is pressed for oil it will generally yield oil with a higher level of bitterness and pungency. This is because the polyphenol content of an olive decreases as it continues to ripen on the tree. Polyphenols are the compounds that contribute the bitterness and pungency to the olive oil and also provide many of the health benefits. The antioxidant properties of the polyphenols explain why greener harvest oils have a longer shelf life than ripe harvest oils; the natural antioxidants slow the onset of rancidity in early harvest oils.

One of the trickiest parts of making a great olive oil is timing the harvest. Harvest too early and you can have oil that is aggressively bitter and overwhelming. Harvest too late and you may produce a bland oil that lacks character and will become rancid in a short time. A good producer knows his or her varieties and harvests them at the peak point to make the most of that cultivar’s qualities.

Maturity is not the only determinant of polyphenol content. Different olive varieties have different polyphenol concentrations. Some varieties, like Coratina and Picual, are naturally high in polyphenols, other varieties, like Arbequina, are intrinsically lower.

 

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Olive Oil Production

How is olive oil made?

Making olive oil is a simple process. The oil inside a well cared for, undamaged, just-right olive on the tree is perfect; all the olive oil mill needs to do is get the oil out of the olive without messing it up. It’s not as easy as it sounds – like most simple things there is a lot of finesse involved—but the fundamentals are not complicated. 

Great olive oil starts with great fruit

Time is of the essence when you are making high quality olive oil. The minute an olive leaves the tree, it begins to deteriorate. The best olive oil is made within hours of harvest. As olives sit, they begin to undergo anaerobic fermentation—that is fermentation in the absence of oxygen. They will start to heat up, just like a compost pile, and the resulting breakdown of the fruit leads to higher free acidity in the oil and defective fusty flavors.

Harvest

Olives can be harvested in many ways, and all of them can yield excellent olive oil if the fruit is processed immediately. Hand harvest is the oldest and most expensive method. The olives can be picked into buckets, raked or beaten onto tarps, or rattled and shaken with various handheld machines to get them off the tree onto collecting nets. Larger machines that shake the trunks of the trees, or the canopy, are used extensively all over the world. There are also over-the-row machines that use a row of bars to beat the sides of the trees and dislodge the fruit into a collector.

Despite occasional romantic advertising copy to the contrary, first rate olive oil can be made from mechanically harvested fruit. In fact, there is an advantage to machines since they are so much faster and allow the fruit to be processed within a very short time of harvest. The down side of machines, beater-bar types in particular, is that some of them can bruise the fruit. This is not a major concern if the fruit is going to be processed within hours of harvest; the processing involves considerably more trauma to the olives than just bruising (it grinds them to a pulp, to be specific). 

Olive Harvest

Grinding

Once the olives are harvested they must be rushed to the mill. Really rushed. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Speedy processing is essential for making good olive oil; the sooner you mill, the less the fruit will deteriorate. At the mill, leaves and sticks are removed from the olives, and the fruit is washed. From the washer it goes to a grinder that creates a paste. 

There are different methods of grinding. The most common by far is the hammer mill. It is fast, continuous, easy to clean and produces oil with a lot of character. Stone mills, the standard for most of history, are still used by some producers. Stone milling is less efficient because the olives must be milled in batches, there is more oxidation because the paste is exposed to the air for an extended period and stone mills are harder to clean thoroughly. Stone grinding results in a coarser paste and less bitterness in the oil. This can be helpful when milling certain varieties, but most producers opt for the greater flavor extraction and efficiency of hammer mills. Another option that is growing in popularity is the disk mill. A disk mill can produce paste that is more similar to a stone mill’s in texture, but it is continuous, easy to clean and results in less oxidation.

Olive Crushing

 

Malaxation 

From the grinder, the paste goes into a tank for malaxation. In malaxation, the olive paste is stirred slowly with paddles to help reverse the homogenization that takes place during grinding. The small droplets of oil are coaxed together into larger droplets to help the separation process. Malaxation usually takes from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the character of the paste.

Malaxation Process

Separation

From the malaxation tank, the olive paste is pumped to the decanter. A centrifugal decanter is the standard method of separating the olive oil from everything else—fruit water, pit fragments and pulp. The traditional method of separation was a press that used mats (imagine a round placemat with a hole in the middle), spread with olive paste and squeezed to release the oil and water. The solids stayed behind on the mats. The problem with this picturesque method is that a mat, even one made from a man-made material, is about as easy to clean as an oil and olive paste-saturated carpet, which often times leads to contamination of the oil. Cleanliness is everything in olive oil processing, so the use of mats introduces an unwelcome opportunity for defects to get into the oil.

 

Decanter

In a decanter, separation that takes hours with just gravity is done in seconds. The olive paste is spun at high speeds to separate the different parts: solids (heaviest), fruit water and olive oil (lightest). The olive oil is pulled out of the decanter and sent for a final cleaning in the vertical separator. The solids and fruit water are sent for disposal, composting, etc.

Polishing 

The final cleaning of the olive oil is sometimes called polishing. It involves another centrifuging, this time in a modified cream separator. The last traces of fruit water and particles are removed and the fresh olive oil is ready for settling or filtration. Or you can just grab a piece of bread and enjoy it straight out of the mill as olio nuovo!

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Olive Varieties

Arbequina

This Spanish variety is currently the most planted olive in California. It is the mainstay of the super-high-density olive production system, a method that allows a high degree of mechanization while harvesting the olives. Arbequina produces a mild, fruity oil, characterized by almond and tropical notes when it is ripe. Harvested greener, it is grassy, with a little pungency but usually has minimal bitterness. Traditional style Spanish Arbequina is very fruity, ripe and soft. 

Arbosana

This variety is grown in the super-high-density system in California (see Arbequina). It is Spanish in origin, but rarely seen there as a single varietal oil. It is becoming more popular in California for its bright herbaceous profile.

Ascolano (Or Ascolana)

Traditionally grown for table olives, this variety is used to make oil as well. It has an apricot/stone fruit flavor that is very distinctive. The ripe oil has a strongly tropical note. This variety originated in Italy.

Frantoio

This is one of the main varieties in most Tuscan blends. It is a central Italian variety that yields exceptionally fine fruity oil. The ideal harvest is about halfway between ripe and green, giving it a green, grassy and artichoke quality with floral and nutty undertones and excellent balance of fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. 

Koroneiki

This Greek variety is the third olive found in super-high-density production. It is highly prized for its extremely aromatic oil. It has a distinctive varietal note reminiscent of banana, green or ripe, depending on the maturity of the olives.

Leccino

This is another one of the varieties found in a Tuscan blend. This central Italian variety produces a sweet, delicate oil with a cinnamon-spice note. It can be harvested quite green for a bright, peppery flavor profile. 

Manzanillo

This is the dominant table olive in California. However, it is also being used to make olive oil in styles ranging from very green to very ripe. This variety is from Spain, and is widely planted worldwide for table olive production. 

Mission

California’s “native” olive. The Mission olive can be used to make either an early harvest or late harvest style oil, or something in between. The greener style will have piney, herbaceous notes with distinct pungency and bitterness. The ripe style Missions tend to be very round and buttery, with tropical/pineapple flavors. 

Sevillano

This Spanish variety is best known for its role in the bottom of a Martini glass. Although predominantly used for pickling, it makes a superb olive oil with a very characteristic flavor of grassy and herbaceous notes. 

Taggiasca

This northern Italian variety has recently garnered a lot of attention in the California premium olive oil world. The traditional Italian oil from this variety is a late harvest, very delicate style. The California Taggiascas tend to be earlier harvest and have a much more complex and assertive profile. It is grassy, floral and well-balanced. 

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Balsamic Vinegar

The truth about Balsamic Vinegar – What is it?

The price and quality of balsamic vinegar can vary widely and is largely determined by whether or not it is authentic traditional balsamic. Authentic traditional balsamic only comes from two places: Modena or Reggio Emilia, Italy. Traditional Balsamic is highly regulated and controlled. It is produced in small quantities and is sold at a much higher price point than non–traditional balsamic. It is labeled as either aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena or aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia and is adorned with the appropriate seal and certificate of origin, and ensconced in a specially shaped bottle.

Most of the products on the market labelled balsamic are not authentic traditional balsamic but condimento or industriale. This does not mean that they are not flavorful, useful, and appropriate. It also does not mean that they did not originate in Italy.

Authentic Traditional Balsamic only comes from two places: Reggio Emilia or Modena, Italy.

How is authentic traditional Balsamic made?

Grapes are pressed and filtered and the juice (called the “must”) is boiled over an open flame in an open vessel until it is reduced by about 50%. At this point it is stored in tanks until the process of fermentation allows the alcohol level to reach a certain value. Acetic acid bacteria are then added and promote the browning process.

The thickened mixture (the “base vinegar”) is placed in different types of wooden barrels of various sizes (from very large to very small). Barrels are constructed of different types of woods to impart different flavor characteristics (e.g. cherry wood makes it sweet, and oak is typically used in the smaller barrels.)

The barrels are then stored to begin the aging process. Conditions are very important in the formation of Balsamic Vinegar as warm temperatures allow for browning, evaporation, and concentration; whereas, cooler temperatures promote decantation and pureness. Thus, a temperature variance from warm to cold and back (like in an attic) is a desirable environment for creating balsamic.

Eventually, evaporation will reduce the amount of liquid in each barrel. Once a year, the barrels are “topped off” from a barrel one size larger. Thus, over time, liquid gets moved from the largest barrels to the smallest (by moving through an entire series of barrels), imparting an abundance of concentrated flavors as it goes. Five different types of wood are necessary to classify a balsamic as traditionale. The concentrated balsamic remaining in the smallest barrels (after an extended aging period) is bottled and sent to market (or kept for personal consumption).

Traditional Balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia (aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia): How would I know?

Traditional Balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia (aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia) must be made from grapes originating locally. These include Trebbiano, Occhio di Gatto, Spergola, Berzemino, Marani, Salamino, Maestri, Montericco, Sorbara and Ancellotta.

Additionally, it must be assessed by master tasters who determine if it is worthy to be called Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Reggio Emilia and if so, categorize it according to three “levels”: aragosta (lobster red), argento (silver), or oro (gold). Aragosta has been aged a minimum of 12 years, Argento 18 years, and Oro a minimum of 25 years.

It must be contained in a special 100ml bottle adorned with a wax seal and have a seal of authenticity from the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegars from Reggio Emilia. The D.O.P. seal (designation of protected origin) ensures the product is actually from Reggio Emilia.

Traditional Oro label from Reggio Emilia: note the shape of the bottle, the red wax top, the Reggio Emilia seal, and the numbered label directly below it. The seal to the right is the designation of protected origin.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena (aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena): How would I know?

Traditional Balsamic from Modena must be assessed by a panel of five expert tasters. The “standard” aging time is twelve years and that which is aged over twenty–five years is adorned with the words “Extra Vecchio.” It must be contained in a special 100ml bottle adorned with a seal of authenticity from the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegars from Modena. The D.O.P. seal (designation of protected origin) ensures the product is actually from Modena.

Traditional Balsamic from Modena: note the onion shape of the bottle (characteristic of Modena) and the numbered seal across the top. The seal to the right is the official seal of the Modena Consortium.

What is condiment balsamic? Why is it less expensive?

 Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) is commonly used to denote condiment balsamic that is a less expensive version of the traditional. This type of balsamic is considered “condimento” because it did not undergo the stringent process required to be considered traditional. It may have used only three woods instead of five, been released earlier than 12 years, or come from a region outside of Reggio Emilia or Modena. As a result, the price is much lower. As an example, an 18yr Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Modena) in a 250ml bottle would typically retail at Olivada for $15. To compare, an 18yr (Silver label) Traditional Balsamic from Reggio Emilia in a 100ml bottle retails for $183. Both are great products and we would be happy to sell you either one! However, each has its purpose.

The balsamic at the grocery store is $5. What’s up with that?

What you’re looking at is “industriale” or commercial grade balsamic. In fact, it’s tough to even call it balsamic. This is a mass produced substance that is really nothing more than vinegar, often with a caramel coloring and sugar added to make it appear better than it actually is. As a marketing ploy, manufacturers will actually print a large number on the bottle such as an “8” or a “12”. This number means absolutely nothing! It is simply a gimmick to make the uninformed consumer think they are getting a product aged for that period of time.

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Wine Vinegar

What is Vinegar?

A liquid in which the natural sugars are allowed to ferment into alcohol, and then a secondary fermentation occurs converting the alcohol to the final product – vinegar.

How is vinegar made?

Yeast is used to convert the natural sugars into alcohol and bacteria is introduced which changes the alcohol to vinegar. Once the alcohol is converted, the result is a product that contains a weak acetic acid – the “acidity” taste associated with vinegar. USDA rules state that to be called “vinegar” the liquid must have an acidity level of at least 4%. 

What is the most common vinegar?

The most common vinegar is white household vinegar. It is more often than not produced in a laboratory by taking acetic acid and diluting it with water or by using grain ethanol. Although it’s great for cleaning around the house, it may be a little too strong for flavoring foods. The second most common form of vinegar is apple cider vinegar which can be used for dressings, marinades, and general use.

What is wine vinegar? 

Wine vinegar is in fact made from wine. The quality of the wine will determine how complex and flavorful the vinegar is. By starting with a good wine, and then aging for a few more years, a great product can be produced that can pull out the sweetness of fruits and berries. Higher quality wine vinegars can be obtained from gourmet food stores, as most supermarket varieties (”red wine vinegar”) are of low commercial grade quality. To really get some great flavor try specific wine varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Champagne vinegar.

What are some other types of vinegar?

Rice, Malt, Raisin, Beer, and Coconut vinegar are all specialty products that have gone through the dual fermentation process. Each has a distinct flavor and a specific purpose depending on the dish.

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Health Information 

Fad diets

Are you tired of weird fad diets yet? Seems like there is a new one every few months, each with its’ own set of extreme guidelines. Human beings are attracted by novelty, it is true; which is why the diet book market is perennial. Hopefully we are also guided by common sense, practicality and intuition.

Regardless if you like fad diets or dislike fad diets, you could always think of the Mediterranean diet as a many thousand-year-old fad that just won’t quit.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, seafood and cereals with a low intake of meat and meat products and dairy products. It also features a high ratio of mono-unsaturated to saturated fats, with olive oil being the primary fat in the diet.

A very important part of the Mediterranean diet is the high intake of vegetables. It can be argued that this is closely linked to olive oil for a simple reason: vegetables cooked with olive oil taste so good that no one has a problem eating healthy amounts. It is not uncommon to have a minor squabble over who will get the last of the Kale with Olive Oil and Garlic!

Olive oil: a good fat

Hopefully we are all over the idea that dietary fat is always bad. So very not true. Some dietary fats do seem to be bad—trans-fats for example. Good fats are a critical part of our diet, so we should seek out healthy fats that will benefit our health. Watching the overall amount of fat in our diets is still important, so we need to substitute healthy fats for other fats, not simply add good fats on top of the bad fats. It is also important to remember that we are human beings, not chemistry sets, so we want to find healthy things that taste good!

Olive oil is primarily mono-unsaturated fat, the healthiest fat for your heart. It has also been shown to raise protective HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). The health benefits of olive oil don’t stop with the mono-unsaturated fat, however. Extra virgin olive oil has additional health benefits due to the polyphenols, tocopherols, plant sterols and other things present in this fresh, unrefined product. Refined olive oils have virtually none of these other chemicals.

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