Like all fresh produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is at its optimum when first pressed. That’s because the best quality certified Australian EVOO is simply the juice from the olive, plucked from the tree and pressed so quickly it retains optimum antioxidants and the ultimate health benefits.
It’s not only packed with all the good stuff, it also tastes amazing when fresh, which is why olive producers, foodies, chefs and lovers of EVOO all over Australia celebrate when harvest hits in May, June and July.
Late Autumn and early winter is when olive trees all over Australia are being picked and pressed, which makes it the best time to buy EVOO, especially if you love the seriously fresh stuff.
Cobram Estate’s internationally award-winning First Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a distinctive greeny-yellow hue and tastes like liquid gold. In Victoria, the Grampians Olive Co’s organic 2018 Olio Nuovo Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (First Harvest) is made from the first olives harvested each season. It is picked, cold-pressed, unfiltered and bottled within 24 hours. They recommend using as much oil as possible when it is cloudy for optimum antioxidants in every slosh of EVOO.
Meanwhile, Primo Estate’s JOSEPH First Run Extra Virgin Olive Oil heralds the start of the new season with a series of events to celebrate the harvest, pouring Extra Virgin Olive Oil, fresh from the press. Their traditional Italian long lunches are held across the nation from June to early July and are a sight to behold (and taste).
The beauty of Australian EVOO is its simplicity. It is essentially olive juice, says Longridge Olives Certified Australian EVOO producer Lisa Rowntree.
“Once olives have been milled, they’re placed into tanks, then into bottles and then allowed to rest for a while to get all the sediment out of the bottle,” she says.
“You don’t undertake any other processes. You just crush it, let it settle and bottle it.”
Freshly pressed EVOO is still cloudy and the flavours are vibrant and fruity. Trying first harvest EVOO or high-quality fresh Australian EVOO is a revelation.
“Once you’ve tried it you won’t go back,” Lisa says. “It is a reference point by which to judge other oils. “Then next time you try an oil and it’s not fresh you’ll know it doesn’t taste right.”
And when it comes to finding the freshest EVOO, Domenic Scarfo, General Manager of certified Australian EVOO producer Diana Olive Oil says go look locally.
“It goes without saying,” says the third generation, South Australia-based olive guru. “No matter what you buy, whether it’s olive oil, tomatoes, lettuce, bread, anything… the closer it is to your house, the fresher.”
“Comparatively to any other oils on the market, Australian EVOO is probably the most expensive but it goes without saying that it is the best for you.”
To make sure you’re buying the freshest EVOO and that it stays fresh Domenic recommends buying certified Australian EVOO in packaging that suits you.
Australian EVOO producers that are certified, adhere to Australian production and freshness standards to ensure consumers get the most antioxidants and the best quality EVOO every time. Just look for the triangle symbol on the bottle to make sure it’s certified.
If you don’t use much EVOO buy it in a small bottle so it stays fresher for longer. If you go through it quickly, go for a larger bottle, or even a cask.
Grampians Olive Co. recently introduced cask packaging to maintain the quality of their EVOO for longer.
“There is no oxygen exposure in casks, it offers the convenience of a tap and is BPA free.
So, if you want the best tasting, and healthiest EVOO buy certified, fresh and local where possible.
“If you’re getting it local you’re getting it fresh and you’re supporting the farmers around you,” Lisa says.
“There are a lot of really good producers, small and large, dotted right throughout the country. I think it’s really nice when a consumer can go to their local olive oil producer and buy their product. That way, you know it’s fresh.”