The seemingly small world of quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar touts quite a large vocabulary. Just as with any hobby or niche market, there is more than meets the eye and an entire new world is uncovered once you start digging in…
To help navigate through this wonderful foodie world we’ve compiled a list of terms & phrases below:
A sweet and tangy aromatic vinegar made from the must of white Trebbiano grapes and aged in various wood barrels. Similar process to making wine, the more aged it is, the better.
Use balsamic vinegar to make your own salad dressings, pour over cheeses and fruits, dress your veggies and proteins, deglaze your pan for a simple pan sauce, flavor your mixed drinks or lemonade and teas, jazz up yogurt or ice cream. Mix into your mayonnaise or sour cream for custom spreads!
When crushing olives to extract their oils, to maintain quality, they are pressed at a cool/ room temperature. This does not yield as much as it would were the olives warmed for extraction, but this degrades the oils health benefits.
This is a type of quality labeling term used for Balsamic Vinegars. This means the balsamic was made using the most high quality and traditional methods of balsamic production without being supervised by the consortium, allowing the product to be sold in more than 100ml bottles at a time.
This is a term referencing a test/score applied to olive oils for quality purposes. It measures the proportion of two forms of diacylglycerol: 1,2 and 1,3. In oil freshly made from sound olives of good quality, the prevalent form of DAG is the 1,2 form where the fatty acids are bonded to a glycerol molecule in the 1 and 2 positions. Eventually this form changes into a 1,3 bond after it ages. It’s a good indicator of the quality of the olive fruit and the processing/age of an oil. Warmer storage temperatures, and higher free fatty acid levels will both accelerate this process, but DAGs are not affected by the short exposure to high heat that is characteristic of deodorizing (refining) an oil (which is bad).
Olive oil that is made from the first pressing of highest-quality olives. It is a grading scale. You can think of it simply like the USDA grading of meats. Extra virgin olive oil is like USDA Prime versus a lower quality “pure” or “virgin” olive oil like USDA Select.
Free Fatty Acids
A low FFA is desirable. Free fatty acid speaks to the condition of the fruit at the time of crush. The higher the FFA the greater the indication of poor quality fruit such as damaged, overripe, insect infestation, overheating during production or too much of a delay between harvest and crush. The limit for an Ultra Premium Certified oil is <0.8%.
We source olive oils from both the northern and southern hemisphere. Each half produces once a year making Pour Olive’s oils as fresh as possible. The first part of the year is Northern sourced and includes countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and the US (California). The last half of the year is Southern sourced and may include Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
A term describing the mid-level of flavor intensity of olive oil. Being a nice “middle of the road” intensity, you can use these oils for any cooking application or raw use, like salad dressings. They are grassy and some what fruity with a small peppery kick from the antioxidants.
A term describing the lowest level of flavor intensity of olive oil. These oils will be delicate and smooth, yet bright with floral or fruity notes. Grassy flavors blend with notes of green banana or green apple peel.Great for fish or eggs and salad dressing or hummus.
Freshly pressed fruit juice (grape juice) that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The solid portion of the must is called pomace; it typically makes up 7–23% of the total weight of the must. This is the first product used to create balsamic vinegar.
A monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil. Olive oil is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats. The range found in extra virgin olive oil is between 55-85%. Extra virgin olive oil high in oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation.
Peroxide Value / Oxidation
A very low peroxide value is desirable. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a typical musty/rancid oil smell. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light, and oxygen exposure. This reveals a low quality oil that likely used heat to extract to most oil from the olive fruit.
A class of antioxidants found in a variety of foods. Polyphenols such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and hydroxytyrosol impart intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh, high quality extra virgin olive oil. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well made olive oil with high polyphenol content is crucial when looking to obtain the maximum health benefit commonly associated with consuming extra virgin olive oil.
This is a term referencing a test/score applied to olive oils for quality purposes. It measures the degradation of chlorophyll in olive oil (the characteristic green color). This degradation of chlorophylls to pyropheophytin was found to take place at a predictable pace, making it possible to gain information about the age of an olive oil. The rate at which the degradation occurs can be accelerated by even short periods of high temperatures – such as that which is utilized during the deodorizing or soft column refining process – making it a useful indicator of the presence of deodorized olive oil as well as the age of the oil.
A term describing the highest level of flavor intensity of olive oil. When an extra virgin olive oil is robust it will be high in antioxidants. This will give the oil a desirable bitter and peppery finish. These oils are great for heavier cooking but, as long as you like the kick, perfect for you toast or pasta too!
A process for aging liquids such as wine, beer, balsamic vinegar, and brandy, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. The product is passed through 5 to 9 barrels made from various woods (cherry, chestnut, ash, and more). This provides a signature flavor. In balsamic vinegar making, the barrels used must have residual amounts of aged balsamic left inside to continue the process. Solera means literally “on the ground” in Spanish, and it refers to the lower level of the set of barrels used in the process; the liquid is transferred from barrel to barrel, top to bottom, the oldest mixtures being in the barrel right “on the ground”.
The environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, in which olives are grown and that give an oil its unique flavor and aroma, much like wine with grapes.
The main type of grape used in Balsamic Vinegar making. It is a white grape that produces a high yield with great acidity perfect for balsamic production.
Ultra Premium (UP) is a new category of olive oil grading that distinguishes the highest quality olive oil in the world. The UP standard was created in response to the inferior oils currently being sold in the grocery store and the need to separate the good from the bad, so to speak.
To read more see the UP website!
Designating an oil made entirely or chiefly from one variety of olive, like koroneiki olives or the hojiblanca olive.
White and Dark
This refers to the types of balsamics we carry. White balsamics are light in color and are very bright and tangy, less woody than their counterpart. They’re aged in new white oak barrels. Dark balsamics, which many are more familiar with, are dark in color. If they are of good quality they will be aged for 10+ years and made only from grape must (meaning not added thickeners or colors). This makes them very viscous and sweet with a small bite. They are aged in various types of wooden barrels, like cherry, chestnut, and ash. We carry a large variety of flavored balsamics from Modena Italy!