Home' Scoop : Scoop 75 Autumn 2016 Contents 184
balance a number of factors, because the fruit
colour is not always an accurate indicator of
its physiological ripeness.
“Olives can look ripe by having a black
skin colour, but the flesh can be less than
ripe, so we continually taste-test the fruit as
it ripens. Typically, the fruit in a bin will look
about 50 per cent yellowy green and 50 per
As the olives ripen, the oil quantity
rises, Mark says, but the fruits’ polyphenols
(responsible for the flavour complexity and
antioxidants in the olives) begin to dissipate.
“The challenge we have is to extract an
acceptable oil percentage while preserving an
adequate level of polyphenols to boost flavour
intensity, antioxidant levels and shelf life.”
At Vasse Virgin, the fruit is handpicked
and processed in 24 hours to preserve
freshness and to reduce oxidation. “EVOO is
simply the juice of a freshly crushed piece of
fruit, which is what qualifies it as the highest
standard of olive oil and is why it’s so superior
in terms of flavour and health benefits,” says
Mark. “But it should be consumed within 12
to 18 months of being processed or it will lose
those valued properties.”
The Margaret River region isn’t the only
place in WA to grow olives, and I decide my
appreciation of the fruit warranted a visit to
another producer some distance away.
As I head north towards the quintessential
far ming community of York, there’s
a drastic shift in the landscape: gone are the
verdant rolling pastures, towering forests
and cascading waterways, replaced by an
impressive backdrop of open far mland, green
belts of trees and magnificent granite rocks.
When I arrive at the York Olive Oil
Company, it is to find owners Arnaud and
Jenny Courtin sliding olives gently down the
branches, allowing the fruit to drop on a net
below. The soft rain of purple, black and
green olives is simply mesmerising – and I’m
seized by the urge to help out.
I soon discover that these softly spoken
masters have been contract-processing olives
for growers around the state for the past
15 years, while also inviting groups to get
their hands dirty by picking and processing
olives from the far m.
“We love working outdoors and find it
rewarding to be able to impart our knowledge
of traditional olive-oil making,” Arnaud says.
“There is something satisfying about taking
a bunch of fresh olives off the tree and seeing
it through to the bottling stage. We are finding
a growing number of groups book in to pick
olives in the morning then stay to watch them
be pressed into oils in the afternoon.”
The process provides a wonderful
opportunity to experience a connection
with the land, and that’s an underlying
element of what drives these farmers on.
As the community’s relationship with food
deepens and questions are raised about food
provenance, more and more producers like
the Courtins are opening their farm gates to
educate the public on far ming practices and
the importance of buying locally.
So whether the end product is sweet,
bitter, florally or peppery, the experience
of picking and pressing your own olives is
one that will pay dividends on many levels.
After all, what could be healthier than time
spent in the great outdoors, creating one of
the freshest, tastiest and most nutritionally
rewarding foods our state has to offer? You’ll
be hard-pressed to find something better. S
A matter of taste
TASTING OLIVE OIL IS AKIN TO TASTING WINE,
AND CAN BE A WONDERFUL SENSORY EXPERIENCE...
IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT.
Start by pouring a small amount of oil into a glass and
covering it with your hand to allow the aromas to intensify.
Hold it, swirl it, warm it for a minute and then inhale. You may smell
freshly cut grass, green leaf, green tomato, tropical fruits or cinnamon,
to name a few. The aromas are a critical part of an oil’s flavour.
Now it’s time to taste. A good olive oil should display a nice
balance of fruitiness, bitterness, pungency and freshness.
Take a sip and draw in some air. This will help to release the
flavour. Hold the oil on the tongue for a few seconds before
swallowing a small amount. Assess the oil for the amount of
fruit, bitterness and pungency (peppery sensation) present.
Notice the flavours that linger after you have finished.
A great oil will have a harmonious blend of fruit,
bitterness and pungency.
There is something satisfying about
taking a bunch of fresh olives off the tree and
seeing it through to the bottling stage.
Links Archive Scoop 74 Summer 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page