Category Archives: Milling

Food Fraud in Olive Oil- Buyer Beware

 

In our tasting room I am frequently asked about fraud in olive oil.

The USP* warns that the amount of food fraud has increased by 60% over the last few years. They state that the most adulterated foods are olive oil, milk, honey, syrups, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, tea, spices, and seafood.

After the 60 Minutes report last year and the book, Extra Virginity, by Tom Muller, customers are asking great questions about the provenance of olive oils.  At IL Fiorello, we can point to the specific trees and state that the oil you are tasting comes from our groves. But in general, olive oil fraud is rampant. Why so much fraud? This is a “follow the money” situation. Producers use less extra virgin oil, cut it with vegetable oil, and make more money. The larger quantity of a poor quality bulk olive oil mixed with more flavoring and herbs and spices, the more money you make.  Usually the vegetable oil is highly refined by high heat and chemicals. Much of this oil is made by large multinational international conglomerates. Some is made here in the United States.

Extra virgin olive oil can only be made from olives, and nothing else. NOTHING. If you see a bottle of olive oil that says extra virgin on the label and then contains herbs, that is fraud here in California. Extra virgin oil must pass both a master taste test and a chemistry test and must have a specific label on the bottle stating that that oil has passed certification. If the oil says organic it must also have a certification label for organic. So oils that say organic extra virgin basil oil and are neither extra virgin nor organic. These standards are set by California, modeled after some of the high standards set by Australia. The problem is that there are not enough olive oil police to identify the companies that are making fraudulent oils, and therefore duping the customers.

 

 

We go to great lengths to certify our oils as extra virgin. We happily discuss both the master taste panel and the chemistry tests of our oils. We are certified organic and put the organic label on our organic oils. We can point to the trees that grow the olives for our oil. Our mill is certified organic.

At IL Fiorello we also make co-milled olive oils made with superior quality olives and superior quality fresh fruit: lemons, limes, mandarins, and jalapenos. Both are milled together and the result is co-milled olive oil. We believe that co-milling delivers better quality and depth of flavor. This oil cannot be labeled extra virgin oil as it contains something other than olives. Even though the olives we use could make extra virgin oil, we cannot label it as such. Some companies say “made with extra virgin olive oil” because they added flavoring to extra virgin oil, but that is walking a fine line within the law.

This is a buyer beware situation, or as I like to call it- buyer BE aware. Be aware of your purchases, know your purveyor. Be smart, extra virgin olive oil is expensive, delicious, and should be used when fresh.  Check the labeling for the harvest date, then you know when the oil was made. The “best by” date is irrelevant.

We invite you to come talk with us about the fraud in olive oil. The discussion will enlighten you, and hopefully help you make better decisions about your food choices.

 

Ciao,

Ann

 

 

*The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide. USP’s drug standards are enforceable in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, and these standards are used in more than 140 countries.

Since its founding in 1820, USP has helped secure the quality of the American drug supply. Building on that legacy, USP today works with scientists, practitioners, and regulators of many nations to develop and revise standards that help protect public health worldwide.  WWW.USP.ORG

 

 

Competition Oil

 

 

At IL Fiorello we consider olive oil competitions very important for one major reason, to make sure our oils are as good as, or better than, the rest of the oils in the world.

Just last year we won 24 individual awards. It is so important to benchmark our oils with others.

Medals are wonderful to display, but the quality of the oils speak for themselves. The real question is how to make a decision about what oils go to what competitions.

 

 

How do we decide what oils and what competitions to enter?  We have 19 oils for presentation this year. Most companies make 2 or 3 oils. That is what makes us very unique in this business, a large number of single varietal oils for presentation. We are considering entering 7 competitions this year, including the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the Los Angeles International Competition, the Yolo County Fair (the oldest competition in California), Napa, and a few other selected events.

 

So how do we begin this process?

To start we have all our oils certified extra virgin. We submit the oils to a required chemistry test that certifies the quality of the oils. This chemistry panel also accompanies the oils to each competition for verification of extra virgin status.

Next we have all the oils taste tested by a professional panel of certified tasters from the Applied Sensory Panel, led by Sue Langstaff. Ms. Langstaff is the Panel leader and editor of the internationally known book, Olive Oil Sensory Science.

Next, with our staff we convene a review meeting to assess the results of the mandated certification process.

The next step is to make a grid of all the competitions, the judges, and our past awards.

 

Our staff then re-tastes the oils that won from last year and then re- taste the oils we made this year, one more time. Senior staff then analyze the responses. We compare all the results and make decisions about each oil and each competition.

Another significant factor is to assess the budget for competition entries. Each competition requires at least 2 bottles of oil and entry fees ranging between $80 and $300 per sample. Add the shipping fees and you have a considerable expense.

Then you wait to hear the results. It is a roll of the dice.

So far, we have been very successful in competitions. This year is another year and time will tell.

So enjoy the oil, use it well and often in good health.

 

 

Ciao

Ann

 

 

Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Jalapeno – Co-Milled Oils

 

 

A hallmark time at IL Fiorello is when all the extra virgin olive oil is finished and “put to bed” so to speak, and we can have fun making our co-milled oils.

Our promise to you is that we will never make infused oils, only co-milled.  Co-milling is when we run beautiful olives and luscious citrus fruit and jalapenos through the entire milling process.

10,000 lbs. of olives and lots of eureka lemons, tangelos, Bearss limes, and finally 800 lbs. of jalapenos arrive at the mill at the same time. SO much fruit to cut and prepare and enjoy. The best is having a small fire and roasting jalapenos for our lunch. I put one on my hamburger, delicious.

 

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The interesting part of making co-milled oils is to find all the perfect fruit and then match the fruit with the best olives. The proportion will change each year depending on the flavor of the fruit and the flavor of the olives. There is no magic proportion. We run the mill slowly and carefully to extract as much fruit flavor as possible.

The aroma is fantastic. The opportunities for pairing with food is unlimited.

We celebrate at the completion of the milling as this long milling season has come to an end. Thank you to our growers. Congratulations all around. Beautiful oil. Great flavor of co-milled oils.

Great friendships and an incredible work ethic from our staff.

Thanks to all. Happy Holidays

 

Here are some ideas for using our co-milled oils:

Lemon co-milled oil over our olive oil Gelato, add salt and this is perfect taste treat.
Just ask any of our staff or guests!

Lemon co-milled oil on roast chicken to brighten the flavor. I use lemon oil in baking for
cakes and our traditional pizzelles.

Jalapeno-Lime co-milled oil over scrambled eggs, tacos, and huevos rancheros.
Or simply just drizzle on a half of an avocado with a little salt. Perfect.

Mandarin co-milled oil mixed with our honey, then warmed, serve over French toast
or English muffins

Mandarin co-milled oil to finish a Butternut squash soup or on baked pumpkin, squash
or sweet potatoes

Lime co-milled oil on sushi, or fish tacos, or grilled halibut. Our Lime brightens and
adds flavor to roast chicken and any vegetable dish.

 

Ciao

Ann

 

 

 

MILLING OLIVES

 

There are always so many questions about milling olives, and making extra virgin olive oil.

Here is the simplified synopsis:  good fruit, meaning good olives, makes good oil!

 

The process

  1. Olives are delivered to the mill the same day they are harvested

step1

 

2. Olives are inspected and photographed and the temperature is documented

step-2

 

3. Olives are weighed (olives minus bin = weight of fruit)

 

4. Olives are washed, very lightly

step-4

 

5. Olives (including pit, skin and tissue) are crushed in the hammer mill crusher

step-5

 

6. Olives are malaxed (mixing and warming)

step-6

 

7. Centrifuge Number 1, the Decanter, separates material (pit, skin and tissue) from the oil

step-7

 

8. Centrifuge Number 2, the Valente, clarifying the oil

step-8

 

9. Storage 62° F, cold, dark and under an inert gas

 

10. Decanting is important and should happen in 6-10 weeks after milling

 

You can make good oil with good olives and good machinery. We learn new techniques every year and experience is valuable. With climate change, and general warming, we at IL Fiorello, have made significant changes to our methods and internal temperatures during milling.

 

The result is great oil.

 

Ciao,

Ann

 

 

DECISIONS AT HARVEST TIME

 

An interesting question is when to harvest olives. This seems to be an easy decision. The answer; when they are ripe. But the real answer is actually much more complicated.

Before you plant an olive tree, you should understand what kind of olive oil you want to produce and what flavor do you want to present at your table.  Begin with the variety characteristics as each variety of olive has its own profile, such as green fruit, ripe fruit, robust, mild, buttery, pungent, and aromatic.

 

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To begin, you should know each of your varieties and their ripening process. Remember all olives start out green and all olives ripen to black. They ripen from the outside in so you may have a fully black olive but the inside is brilliant green and not even close to being ready.

Each variety ripens at a different time and different rate. You really have to know your olives, the climate, the mill you will be working with and whether you want a robust oil or a mellow oil. So the decision is to harvest early, or harvest late. Harvest early and you will have a greener tasting oil, much more robust with higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidants. Harvest later and you will have a more mellow oil with a shorter shelf life and lower polyphenols.  

Other questions are equally important.  Who is going to harvest your olives and what are the costs of harvesting? We estimate that cost to be the most expensive part of making oil. If you intend to rely on friends and family or crowd sourcing you can save money but you may not get all the olives harvested.  Harvesting is hard work. We recommend that olives are milled within 12 to 24 hours of picking. Hopefully it will be cool enough to store them properly before transport to your milling site. Keep your olives in the shade. Keep them cool, to prevent decay of the fruit.

 

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Decisions continue throughout the actual milling process so talk to your miller about your preferences. Talk early and often so that both sides know the process and the goals.

After milling the decisions about caring for the oil after milling, decanting, storage, storage temperature, and bottling will be the topic of another blog.

So many decisions! But knowing your olives, having good fruit, and engaging in discussions with your miller make the whole process much better. And much more fun.

Enjoy the harvest season.

 

Ciao
Ann

 

 

 

The Best Day is the Day Oil is Born

 

OLIO NUOVO, new oil.

It’s full of pungency, olive bits, bitterness, texture, deliciously wonderful. This is the oil to pour over toasted bread like bruschetta.

Olio Nuovo is the best! Everyone should stand in line to taste this fabulous product. It’s a gift of nature, but not for the faint of heart- as this is a new and robust oil. Think of savory foods like steak, roasted pumpkin, potatoes or grilled eggplant.

Olive oil changes over time. So what is pungent and very robust today will become much milder over the next two years.  All the polyphenols and antioxidants, (only one small measure of oil quality) will also degrade over the next year. Olio Nuovo is immediately hand bottled the hour it is made and only available during the olive harvest, so limited quantities are on hand- use it often during the holiday season!

Take advantage of this wonderful tasting oil! The oil will never be better than the day it is born.

Celebrate Harvest, Celebrate Olio Nuovo.

CIAO

Ann

Harvest and Milling Season at Il Fiorello

Photo for Oct 2 blog copyAs we begin harvest and milling season, I am always reminded of the long history, culture, and memories of olive oil. With respect for this very ancient product, we make oil with new machines and very modern technology. Nick, our assistant miller, and I are taking again the Master Milling course at UC Davis to keep up with the modern technology and to reacquaint ourselves with our olive oil colleagues from around the world. We are a small group of people who are determined to make a quality product. New science and improved techniques are making better oil.

Nick took some of our freshly milled oil to a fellow farmer in Suisun Valley. When she smelled the oil she cried. Tears streaming down her face, she said that the fragrance brought back strong memories of her family in Greece.  She is 85 and could so clearly remember the fragrance and taste of olives and newly milled oil from her family farm. A potent and remarkable food memory.

This story is why we mill olive oil. Not for the gold medals, not for the sales but for respect of an ancient healthy food that deserves a place at the modern table©.

Come visit us as at IL Fiorello as we mill and enjoy good health and fond memories.

Ciao

Ann

Growers Meeting

IL Fiorello Olive Oil Co sponsored a growers meeting on Saturday June 28, 2105 we were joined by Marvin Martin, of MarvinMartin Olive Oils and a professional olive grower and master taster from Napa and Tom Turpen, Plant Biologist, from Davis, CA.

The days discussion centered about olive fly in California and in Italy. We reviewed the methods available to growers to use GF 120 or Spinocid. Most of the growers were aware of the application process and the dilution ratio of 1 to 1.5 or 1 to 2. When mixed the Spinocid must be used within 24 according to the Dow Chemical product information. Discussion centered about how problems arise with the olive fly when neighboring growers do not spray their trees. An example is of ornamental trees planted in neighborhoods or city plantings. Suggestions were made to contact neighbors and do cooperative spraying, and to discuss with city officials that city trees need to be fruitless or sprayed to preserve commercial or private crops. There is a spray that can be applied to prevent fruit set. Swan variety of olives is also fruitless.

Discussion also centered on the use of Kaolin clay. One of our growers has been using it on tomatoes with good success. Application is at least 3 times a season to protect the olives. In California, this does not seem to be a problem, but if it rains reapplication is necessary. The manufacturer reports that this product does not have an effect on photosynthesis. No one at the meeting has direct experience with the residual Kaolin wash water risk at the mill. We at IL Fiorello are trying to find more information about how this residual is handled at the olive washing site. Short of washing the olives on site by the grower we are concerned about the residual clay in the water at the mill.

Chef Martin was a guest at Expolivo in Spain and reported to the meeting some of his findings and experiences. Expolivo is the world’s largest olive oil convention. Reports and books from the Expolivo meeting are available for your perusal at IL Fiorello, courtesy of Chef Marvin.

Tom Turpen, from Innovationmatters.com, discussed Xylella infestation in the citrus greening disease and the concern for like diseases in olives. Please refer to the article Olive Quick Decline in Italy Associated with Xylella Fastidiosa, by Elizabeth Fichtner, Dani Lightle, and Rodrigo Krugner, published in California Fresh Fruit, June 2015. OQDS, (olive quick decline syndrome) is destroying trees in Southern Italy. It is of concern here in California and growers should report dieback or scorch on olives to farm advisors or agricultural commissioners. He also discussed the possibility of research to control olive fly propagation. The group consensus was positive to go forward with this discussion and research.

The growers meeting concluded with a tour of IL Fiorello Olive Mill and a discussion of the plan for milling this coming year. Clear communication between growers and millers can make the difference call us with questions.

Ciao
References:
Marvin Martin marvinmartinoliveoils.com for information and olive grove management
UC Davis IPM Integrated Pest Management
Dr. Frank Zalom Professor of Entomology UC Davis
Dow Chemical: Spinocid information
Novasource: Surround WP Crop Protectant OMRI Organic for the Kaolin Clay

Olive Oil Production By-Product for Food

Potential Use of Olive Oil Waste for Novel Food Product Development Dr. Y. Olive Li College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona

Authors: Ann Sievers Owner IL Fiorello Olive Oil Co and Dr. Y. Olive Li College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona

Did you know that 35 lbs. to 40 lbs. of olives (depending on the variety) makes about a liter of olive oil? The product is very dear and very expensive. Also it is very good for you. If you find an inexpensive oil it probably is not olive oil, but a mixture of vegetable oil (highly refined by chemicals and heat) and olive oil. Look for the third party certification in California olive oils to insure quality.

pits
Another huge issue for olive millers is the environmental burden of olive waste. This is the post production material. Approximately 80% to 85% of the olive is post extraction residue which includes pits (wood kernels), olive skin, tissue of the olive, and water. So the question becomes what to do with this product.

Dr. Y. Olive Li, a Professor at Cal Poly Pomona, may have a very interesting answer. Dr. Li is in the Department of Human Nutrition and Food Science, College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona. Her research is sponsored by Cal Poly Pomona ARI Research Grant (2014, #003570) and a SCIFTS Education and Research Grant (2014). She and her colleagues (see attached poster presentation for reference) analyzed the post-extraction olive pomace. It is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, antioxidants, dietary fibers and protein. Sounds like a great product. She says this is a very promising source of various nutraceuticals for development of novel functional foods.

Dr. Olive Li visited IL Fiorello, white coat flying in the wind, with enough energy to run our solar power system by herself. Her goal was to reach deep into the olive waste pomace to get truly good samples. Our goal was not to let her fall in given her enthusiasm! We had a marvelous day talking about human nutrition, milling olives, and how the machines to extract oil actually work. She is a fountain of information and energy.

Dr. Li and her team undertook an exploration of how to use this byproduct by incorporating olive pomace in cereal grain flours. The goal was to convert the wet pomace to a shelf-stable powder ingredient that can be incorporated with other grains to be used for staple foods such as pasta and bakery goods. The final product has a higher nutrient content than just single grain products. Maybe the use of olive by-products in human nutrition can be a multi-level solution for improved human nutrition, (and animals), and assist with environmental concerns.

In the sensory tests, all the different cereal products combined with the olive pomace resulted in acceptable pasta products, and the whole wheat formulation was the most preferred by the sensory panel.

The olive industry will definitely benefit from her research. Il Fiorello benefits by providing pomace for her research and knowing that great things will come from our collaboration. Maybe we will be able to serve pasta, made with our by-products, and finish it with our oils, a complete presentation.

See the Dr Li poster presentation here.

Co-Milled Olive Oils

AKA Flavored Oils
2015 Production

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What do you do with 8 tons of newly harvested olives and 2 tons of fresh fruit? You make co-milled oils of course, one of our most popular products. We use really fresh fruit, sweet and succulent and flavorful; Tangelos, Limes, Lemons, and Jalapeños.

There is a huge difference between olive oil made with a flavored essence added to the oil and a true co-milled oil. While milling olives we mill the citrus at the same time. The olives and the citrus go through the crusher together. It makes a better oil, more homogenized and therefore more flavorful. The proportions of olive to fruit will differ each year, depending on the ripeness and oil content of the olives and the taste of the specific fruit. The exact proportions are usually a closely held secret. The whole fruit is used, skin, seeds, flesh. The skins have an enormous amount of their own oils, and that translates to flavor.

Many olive oil companies in California produce enough to make flavored oils. Although we use olives that could be made into certified extra virgin oil, the co-milled flavored oils cannot be certified. Anything added to olive oil makes that product not acceptable to extra virgin standards. Some companies may state on the bottle, extra virgin olive oil with citrus or herbs added. We just mill the fruit together and make luscious co-milled oils, and call it co-milled. Remember that we mill and not press our olives. First cold press, although legal to use, is not really the process today. It is not first, not cold and not pressed. These names are monikers from a historical perspective.

In competitions, savvy judges are asking the producers to state whether there is an essence added or if the product is co-milled. There is nothing wrong to adding an essence, just that the taste is very different. We prefer to cut the fresh fruit and mill with fresh olives.

The jalapeños go into the crusher whole and you should smell the absolutely wonderful aroma of ground jalapeños as they are very gently warmed going through the malaxation tanks. Just amazing…… Of course this is the last oil of the season, as you can imagine we are now in the process of taking the centrifuges apart and cleaning each little hose and tube.

How do you use co-milled oils? We suggest pairing these luscious oils with fresh products.
Tangelo: Great with Chinese Chicken Salad, or dressing for fresh avocados or citrus salad
Lemon: Serve with fresh pasta, a little salt and pepper and a little juice of a fresh lemon
Lime: Serve with fish tacos, on a sweet soup as a finishing oil, or as a cabbage salad dressing
Jalapeño: Serve drizzled over guacamole, hummus, and couscous, or on grilled chicken or steak.

comilledfoods