The Taste of Olive Oil
By Elena Paravantes, RDN
One of the important characteristics of olive oil is that it provides flavor. It is not a tasteless oil, nor would you want it to be. Olive oil has three main characteristics regarding to flavor:
· Fruitiness: As olives are fruit, a good olive oil will have some degree of fruitiness. This can come from ripe olives or unripe (green) olives. Olive oil should taste fresh, not heavy and “oily”.
· Bitterness: Bitterness is also a characteristic of fresh olive oil. Olives are bitter. The degree of bitterness depends on how ripe the olive is. Early harvest olive oils tend to be more bitter. Depending on your taste you may want to find an olive oil that has a good balance of fruity and bitter.
· Pungency: This is a peppery characteristic that you will feel at the back of your throat when you swallow the oil. This appears to be due to the presence of oleocanthal a phenolic compound in olive oil. Studies have shown that oleocanthal is generally higher in olive oil made from olives that have been harvested early. Therefore olive oils produced from mature olives will give that burning sensation to lesser degree.
Undesirable Aroma and Taste
When tasting an olive oil you also want to detect the bad flavors as with the aroma, so olive oil should not taste Fusty, Musty, Winey-Vinegary, Metallic or Rancid