Finally after a long job we have harvested the fruits of a great deal of hard work.
We have 780.50 kg of olives available, all of the Taggiasca cultivar. This means 60 quarts of olives in the traditional unit of measurement, corresponding to 12.5 kg. In the end, this made 170 litres of extra virgin olive oil.
Now let’s look at the necessary steps for the oil to be called DOP Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil and, in this case, to use the geographical indication “Riviera dei Fiori”.
Extracting the oil.
This is performed purely with mechanical chopping, pressing and separating processes with the aim of separating the fatty part (the oil) from the watery part (plant waters) and the processing residues (orujo).
The quality of the oil depends on a series of factors that should be remembered. They are: the plant variety, the characteristics of the place where they are grown (climate and soil), how they are grown and finally the harvesting and extraction methods.
Most of the qualitative aspects of our oil depend on the plant variety (taggiasca). Therefore, all our efforts were made in order to bring the olives as healthy and intact as possible for the oil extraction process in the mill.
A look inside a drop of oil
Oil is 98% fatty acids and the three most prevalent are oleic acid, linoleic acid and palmitic acid. The highest percentage is oleic acid. Then chemical substances known as minor components (esters, aldehydes, pigments) are contained, which determine the aroma and colour of the oil as well as the nutritional qualities (tocopherols and minor polar compounds).
The classification of oils as extra virgin olive oil depends on a physical and sensorial chemical analysis, which verifies compliance with the product parameters required by law:
free acidity (maximum quantity of oleic acid in 100 grams of oil, extra virgin can reach 0.8 at the most);
number of peroxides (provides the content of oxidation products of fatty acids – less than 20 milliequivalents per kilo of oil for extra virgin);
specific UV absorption, expressed by the coefficients K 232 and K 270 and assessed through an instrument known as a spectrophotometer. The absorption of an oil solution is calculated at 1%. The maximum values are 2.50 and 0.20 respectively.
The first two parameters offer an immediate indication on the quality of the oil.
The third parameter provides an indication on the degree of preservation of the product and on any sophistications taking place.
Extra virgin olive oil must not have any defects in terms of its aromatic profile.
To assess the organoleptic quality i.e. the ability to make the oil taste good with the food it accompanies, a sensorial analysis is required which identifies and catalogues all the volatile substances able to characterise the colour (pigments and chlorophylls) of the oil. From here the aroma and colour combination is considered. An identity card of the individual oil is created.
The test is performed with the Panel test method. The Panel comprises a group of qualified tasters who have completed a training course and passed a general and annual examination on recognising the characteristics, qualities and any faults of the different olive oils.
DOP Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil has superior quality parameters.
So that our product can be classified as DOP Riviera Ligure, we complied with the certification requirement by filling in the relevant form and paying the amount of € 50 + € 0.1 per litre of certified oil, i.e. € 67.00 plus VAT, after ensuring its complete traceability, also through field checks.
The operator from the certifying body took 6 samples of oil, one destined for chemical/physical analysis and one for organoleptic analysis.
To be introduced onto the consumer market, in order to be called “Riviera dei fiori”, the values must be as follows:
– colour: from yellow to yellow-green;
– median of defect must be = 0
– Fruity: median ≥ 3
– Spicy: median ≤ 2
– Bitter: median ≤ 2
– Sweet: median ≥ 4
– maximum acidity total expressed in oleic acid, in weight no more than 0.5 g per 100 grams of oil
– number of peroxides <= 17 MeqO2/Kg
– K 232 <= 2.30
– K 270 <= 0.160.
The parameters of our oil are as follows: acidity 0,2; peroxides 11.6; 1.66 absorption units for K232 and 0.08 absorption units for K270.
Storing the oil
The storage has a substantial effect on the quality of the oil. In fact, as time goes on the oil loses many of its aromatic properties. Good storage substantially reduces all possibilities of degradation.
For these reasons, the storage must respect a few fundamental rules:
The material used for the container must be inert, there must be no contact with oxygen and the container must be stored in ventilated rooms, with very little light and constant temperatures comprised between 15 and 18°C.
The most common containers currently used are made of steel with a floating cap to inhibit the presence of oxygen between the lid and the oil. An even better technique uses a system of inert gases that occupy the empty space under the lid of the drum.
Decanting is important. In fact, during pressing operations some particles still remain in suspension. Over time they are deposited on the bottom of the container. Contact between the oil and these residues is not good, but we work to prevent this.
Bottling DOP Riviera Ligure oil
The DOP Riviera Ligure standard focuses on storage problems. Bottling must take place within 45 days of the suitability certificate being issued. Extra virgin olive oil must be bottled in glass, unless there is a special storage system using a floating cap or a nitrogen head, still keeping the storage temperature between 15 and 18°C. Only in these cases are the preset limits of 45 days extended or cancelled.
As for our commitment to the Riviera Ligure olive grove, it is clear that it was necessary to bottle and label the oil. The cost of the bottle with an anti-filling cap and label is € 1.30 each. The breakdown can be found below. Thus we have come full circle in the olive season.
The DOP Riviera Ligure oil that comes from this olive grove will be available for guided tasting at the A CIASSA shop and at the events in which the Protection Consortium takes part.