Health Info about Olive Oil & Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Why not buy extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) at the grocery store? What's the difference?

Two reasons: taste & health.

TASTE - Come in and compare for yourself. The rigorous standards followed in the production of our olive oils lead to a superior quality oil that has an incomparable flavour! Once you try one of our Extra Virgin or infused oils, you'll never buy inferior oil again! Smell the olive oil that you get from the grocery store, it will taste like it smells... old and greasy! Smell the fresh, tomato, fruity smell of any one of our EVOO's, and then taste if you want to. Good olive oil does NOT have an unpleasant taste!

HEALTH - Not all EVOO is created equal!
Olives are a fruit... so, think of olive oil as a fruit juice. Fresh is better! Grocery store olive oil can be 2-3 years old by the time you buy it off the shelf. Expiration dates are not useful for determining freshness. We post our crush dates and include the chemical analysis of each EVOO. Polyphenols, oleic acid (omega-9), and DAGs (diacylglycerol) are three important indicators of the quality of an extra virgin olive oil. That's why we display the test results for our EVOO's.

Butter Conversion Chart

Instead of serving butter, a healthy alternative is to use extra virgin olive oil in your baking, on your bread, potatoes or vegetables. For bread dipping, try adding balsamic vinegar and some Italian spices to the olive oil. The suggested substitution ratio is 3/4 extra virgin olive oil to butter or use the conversion chart below:

Butter / Margarine

original

  • 1 Teaspoon
  • 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 Cup
  • 1/3 Cup
  • 1/2 Cup
  • 2/3 Cup
  • 3/4 Cup
  • 1 Cup

butter

Olive Oil

conversion

  • 3/4 Teaspoon
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons
  • 3 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 Cup
  • 1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/2 Cup
  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 3/4 Cup

olive oil

INFO about Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Extra virgin olive oil is a unique dietary lipid in the sense that it is not extracted from seeds by means of solvents. Rather, it is obtained from the whole fruit by using the cold-press technique, which does not alter the chemical nature of the crushed fruit or that of the resulting oil. Extra virgin olive oil decreases in flavor and health benefits over time. Fresh crushed olive oil is like fresh squeezed fruit juice in that it contains the most flavor and nutrients. Old, poorly made and improperly stored extra virgin olive oil yields fewer if any health benefits and undesirable flavor. Becoming intimately familiar with a particular extra virgin olive oil's flavor characteristics and chemistry i.e. antioxidant content, oleic acid, free fatty acids, and crush date will help you make an educated decision about which olive oil is right for you.

Following the crush seasons

Everyone knows that Italian olive oil is the best right? Actually, more olive oil is made in Spain today, than Italy. At On Tap, our EVOO comes from all over the world. Because many types of olives can be cultivated in both the southern and northern hemisphere, we're able to keep the freshest oil on our shelves all year long. The end of the calendar year marks the cultivation of oils from Europe, Tunisia and California, while mid-year harvests come from Australia, Chile, and Argentina.

Tasting

Sniff, sip, slurp, smack. Start by warming the tasting cup in your hands with a little friction, stick your nose in for a big sniff, sip the olive oil and let it roll around your tongue, slurp it creating a mist in the back of your throat... and then smack your lips as you appreciate the flavour of what real Extra Virgin Olive Oil tastes like!

Storing your product at home

It's important to realize that there are three major ways that EVOO deteriorates: Heat, Light, and Oxygen. Store your EVOO in dark bottles, out of direct sunlight and fluorescent lights, and away from your stove and other sources of heat. Buy oil in amounts that you can use in 3-6 months. Fresher is better and healthier!

Types of flavoured olive oils at On Tap

Fused and infused olive oils... what's the difference? Fused or Agrumato olive oil is when whole fruit (such as Baklouti Green Chilis, Blood Oranges, Grapefruit or Lemons) is added to the olives at the time of crush. Infused olive oils use natural essences which are added to the Extra Virgin Olive Oils to give them that intensely aromatic flavour.

How do I know if the EVOO I'm buying is good?

There are a number of characteristics that when evaluated together make a high quality extra virgin olive oil. The definition of EVOO is a polyphenol level above 150, low peroxide, low FFA (Free Fatty Acids), and has no flavour faults. The Australians have added two characteristics to these: DAG's (diacylglycerol) and PPP (pyropheophytin). These help to identify the freshness and the quality of the oil over time.

Poly-whats-it? Polyphenols! (antioxidants)

That's one of the indicators of good quality olive oil and one of the chemical characteristics available on each EVOO at On Tap. Generally, the higher the polyphenol, the stronger or more robust the flavour. The flavenoid polyphenols in olive oil are natural antioxidants that contribute to a bitter taste, astringency, and resistance to oxidation. They have been shown to have a host of beneficial effects from healing sunburn to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of coronary disease. Hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol are some of the many phenol compounds in olive oil. There are as many as 5 mg of polyphenols in every 10 grams of olive oil. Many other nut and seed oils have no polyphenols.

The polyphenol content is determined by many factors including:
Olive Varietal: Koroneiki olives, for instance have a very high level of polyphenols, while Arbequina's content is low. The content of Frantoio olives is medium-high and that of Leccino medium.
Time of Picking: Oil made from green (unripe) olives has more polyphenols than oil made from ripe olives. The polyphenol concentration increases with fruit growth until the olives begin to turn purple and then begins to decrease.
Environmental Factors: such as altitude, cultivation practices, and the amount of irrigation. Extraction Conditions: Techniques used to enhance yield, such as heating the paste, adding water, and increasing malaxation time, result in a loss of polyphenols
Storage Conditions: The type of containers and the length of storing are key factors in the oil's polyphenol content. As oil sits in storage tanks or in a bottle, the polyphenols will slowly be oxidized and used up. Oils stored in stainless steel containers or dark glass bottles, in cool conditions, are much better protected against oxidation than those bottled in clear glass.
Refining: Olive oil which is old, rancid, made from diseased olives, or has some other defect can be made palatable by refining. This is done by filtering, heating, charcoal, or chemical treatment to adjust acidity. Refined oils are low in tyrosol and other phenols.

Peroxide value

Peroxides are the primary products of oxidation of olive oil. Based on IOOC Standards the maximum peroxide value for extra virgin olive oil is 20. A very low peroxide value is desirable. Fats and oils such as olive oil are oxidized when they come in contact with oxygen. Oxygen may exist in the headspace of the container and dissolve in the oil. The oxidation products have an unpleasant flavour and odour and may adversely affect the nutritional value of the oil. The more rancid or oxidized the oil, the more peroxides are present.

Free Fatty Acids. (FFA's)

The "acidity" in olive oil is the result of the degree of breakdown of the triacylglycerols, due to a chemical reaction called hydrolysis or lipolysis, in which free fatty acids are formed. These "broken off" fatty acids are called Free Fatty Acids. Freshly pressed oil, made carefully, without the use of excessive heat, from sound, healthy, freshly picked olives, normally has a pretty low "acidity", well under 0.5% FFA. Extra virgin olive oils have less than 0.8% FFA (international standards). The standard for On Tap olive oil is .3% or less for FFA. 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 free fatty acidity is thus a direct measure of the quality of the oil, and reflects the care taken right from blossoming and fruit set to the eventual sale and consumption of the oil.

Oleic Acid

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. Generally, higher is better.

DAGS (diacylglycerol)

Low levels of DAGs (1,2-diacylglycerol ratio) identify extra virgin olive oils that are hydrolyzed, oxidized, of poor quality, and/or adulterated with refined oil. DAGs decrease with time and indicate the freshness of the oil. It is also an indicator of the age of an oil, since the migration from 1,2 to 1,3 DAGs takes place naturally as the oil ages. 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).

PPP (pyropheophytin)

This test was developed to measure the degradation of chlorophyll in olive oil. 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. Elevated levels of PPP ratio indicate extra virgin olive oils that are oxidized and/or adulterated with refined oil.

How long can I use my oil?

If you know when it was pressed you should plan to use it up within nine to 12 months of the pressing. NOT the date from when you buy or open it, but from when it was pressed. No matter how it is stored, olive oil is declining as it ages and will eventually have zero health benefits and begin to go rancid. Generally, oils from the Southern Hemisphere are pressed in May-June, and the Northern Hemisphere in November-December.

Can I cook with olive oil? Will it burn?

Fresh olive oil can take a higher heat. The smoke point is determined greatly by the age of the oil. As it ages, the smoke point goes down. Generally, the more robust oils can take slightly more heat than the delicately mild oils.

Info about Balsamic Vinegars

Info about Olive Oil

What is balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a reduction made from grapes, but it is not considered a wine vinegar because the grape juice used is unfermented. The unfermented white sweet grape juice that is used is called “must” and comes from Trebbiano grapes.

In the traditional method, the grape juice is cooked slowly in a copper cauldron until it is reduced by 35 to 50 per cent. Then, the reduction is placed (along with a bit of already-aged vinegar to get the process started) into oak barrels to age. Each year, some of the vinegar evaporates, and the vinegar is transferred into a smaller barrel made of a different wood (chestnut, cherry, juniper, mulberry, cacia, and ash are commonly used). Each wood used infuses a different flavor into the vinegar, making it more complex and interesting. And as the vinegar ages and becomes concentrated, it becomes thick, sweet and dark.

This process originated in the northern Italian city of Modena. If balsamic vinegar is made following the standards of Modena (which includes each type of wood barrel) and passes a rigorous taste test, it may be deemed Tradizionale di Modena. Reggio-Emilia is another Italian city where traditional balsamic vinegar is made (vinegars made here would be called tradizionale di Reggio-Emilia). These vinegars are expensive and are wonderful for flavoring meat, as a dip for strawberries, and even as a flavoring for a sweet beverage. Some desserts, including panna cotta, crème caramel and zabaglione, may call for this vinegar.

You might be more familiar with a more commercial version of balsamic vinegar, which has a much shorter aging process. Often, some of the traditional barrels are skipped (and in many cases, only oak is used). In some cases, only the must comes from Modena, and artificial colour, flavoring and sweeteners are added. This is more a flavored vinegar than a balsamic.

How to use balsamic vinegar in cooking?

Well-aged balsamic vinegar (12 to 150+ years) can be used after the cooking is finished, and in otherwise mild dishes (nothing spicy or heavily seasoned), so it can shine on its own. Use it to flavor meat like chicken, steak, fish or veal. It is well-suited to fruit and cheese pairings, such as strawberries, peaches and pears, along with ricotta or feta cheese. It may be enjoyed by itself (just a tiny amount) or added to water (or sparkling water) for a refreshing beverage.

What’s the best kind to get?

If you want the thick, sweet, complex Tradizionale, look for a label that has the phrase Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, which is a term applied only to the best balsamics. Expect to pay a good amount for this vinegar. The bottles are sealed and have a certificate of authenticity. You will only use it in drops, so it will last a while. Condimento vinegars will also be high-quality, as they are made in the same way as the tradizionale.

If you are looking for a more accessible balsamic, check the ingredients to make sure no sugar is added. Balsamic vinegar available in grocery stores is often low-quality vinegar, is bitter, and brown sugar may be added to help mask its inferiority. True balsamic vinegar only has one ingredient: must. You may also note the age of the vinegar, if the bottle is labeled with this information. In general, more aged balsamic vinegar is better.

Some markets will have balsamic vinegars that you can buy in bulk. Often at these shops, you are able to taste the vinegars before buying. This is the best way to make sure the vinegar you are taking home with you agrees with your palate and has a balanced flavor. At On Tap Oil & Vinegar, you can taste ANY of the balsamic vinegars before purchasing.

Low Calorie

Balsamic vinegars add lots of flavour to any dish, without packing in too many calories. Using balsamic vinegars shaves a significant number of calories from your diet, making it a healthier alternative.

Effects on Cholesterol

Balsamic vinegar is beneficial for stabilizing your blood cholesterol levels. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is the harmful cholesterol that blocks arteries, causing hardening and clogging. In studies, researchers observed that polyphenols from balsamic vinegars inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This benefit helps minimize the risk of damage to cells from the harmful cholesterol. Drizzling balsamic vinegar on your food can be helpful in keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range.

Beneficial for Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is the amount of force your blood places on arterial walls. Since balsamic vinegar reduces atherosclerosis and hardening of arteries, it can also help normalize your blood pressure levels. In research, regular vinegar consumption has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the top number of your blood pressure reading and measures blood pressure during heartbeats.

Stabilizes Blood Glucose

Balsamic vinegar is low on the glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods cause your glucose to rise slightly and then slowly go back down over a period of time. Processed treats have a high glycemic index and cause a sudden spike in your blood sugar. Once it spikes, glucose drops sharply to below its original level. Low glycemic foods, such as balsamic vinegar, can keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time. Even though balsamic vinegar is a low-glycemic food, it does contain sugar and you should watch your portion size if you are diabetic.

Info about Olive Oil