Extra virgin olive oil, how to buy it

22.6.2019

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

The purchase of olive oil is often among the most difficult quotidian activities of housewifes and of everyone who loves the good cuisine.

We do not always have the opportunity to meet and know personally a producer or have an olive oil mill in our neighborhood. This explains why many of us are forced to turn to the large-scale retail trade, with all the pitfalls and possible frauds that involve this product in particular.

Difficult to understand…

Let’s try then to understand how to defend ourselves from fraud or counterfeiting and above all to add some tools that allow us to choose a good oil, clean, fair and above all healthy.

Meanwhile, we refer you to the following technical notes that help us understand what we mean, in Calabria, with the expression “first cold pressed”.

  • “First pressed” – means the olives were crushed and pressed only one time. The olive oil extracted from the first pressing is of the highest quality and purity.
  • “Cold pressed” – means that the olives never exceed a certain temperature during the entire pressing process– around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Only a first cold pressed olive oil can meet high standards of quality, because purity of oil increases only following such process.

PRICE

This year (2019), a real 1 Lt bottle of 100%-Italian extra virgin olive oil should not cost less than 8 euros. Below this figure it is legitimate to doubt about origin and quality.

If you follow such guidance and instructions, then there are no offers, promotions and below costs, which can be included in the definition of EVO.

Therefore, watch out for the harvest year which, if present, reveals that all the olives with which the oil was made were harvested in the same year.

HOW TO DETERMINE THE PRICE:

Olive grower receives 4.7 euros for a kilo of oil.

The wholesale price then rises to 5.5 euros.

No quality, no label

Once worked by the olive oil industry the cost rises to 6.67 euros which includes: VAT, salaries of those who work there, marketing and bottle.

Please, add also the profit of the industry which is around 4% and the GDO margin, on average 15%

The final price therefore comes to around 8 euros. Lower prices are, sadly, only Community blends, potentially frauding!!

FRAUDS

According to a well known research of Mr. Gennaro Sicolo, president of Italia Ovicola (an organization that involves 50% of olive growers in Italy), about one bottle out of two of extra virgin olive oil contains deodorized oils that are then mixed with Italian oils to give it a bit of flavor and reach the basic chemical and organoleptic parameters to be labeled as extra virgin.

“After two months on the shelf these oils in the panel test can be considered as adulterated,” explains Gennaro Sicolo.

But how is this scam happens?

No tag, no quality

In Italy the olives are harvested between September and October at the right point of ripeness, with a yield of 10 – 13 kg of oil per quintal of olives.

In Spain and Tunisia the harvest begins in January, when the raw material is very mature, in order to have a greater yield. But from a very ripe olive an acid oil is born, so that to remedy it is mixed with a bit of 100% Italian so as to obtain a light fruity that recalls the normal smell and taste of extra Virgin olive oil.

The price of such blend?

Wholesale these deodorized oil lots cost around 2.2-2.4 euros per liter, but to the consumer a mixture of such European community oils costs at least 5 euros … And here this lower price reveal itself as an indicator (certainly not the only one) if not of quality, of the absence of quality!!

Onion of Tropea: extraordinary properties

6.6.2019

A VEGETABLE   COMING FROM AN ANCIENT PAST

Nobody can forget the delicious, refined and light taste, extremely versatile and simple of “Red Onion of Tropea”.

“Capo Vaticano” bay

It was the Phoenicians and the Greeks who introduced the use of onion to Calabria, learned in turn by Assyrians (a civilization dating back to 2,500 BC) and Babylonians (dating back to approximately 1,895 BC).

You cannot be mistaken if you say that this onion is an ancient gift to Calabria of the Assyrians!!

The historic area of production in Calabria is the territory of Capo Vaticano, precisely in the Municipality of Ricadi, but the Italian name “Rossa di Tropea” connects the onion to Tropea, associating its origin with the such renowned village, because of the simple fact that shipments of onions all over the world took place from the Tropea railway station.

Tropea seaside

THE LOCATION

Initially, the transportation of the famous red onions from the fields of Ricardi to the station of Tropea, took place using donkeys or by ox-drawn carts, along paths close to the sea.

Nowadays, the expanse of the Capo Vaticano promontory that spreads towards Tropea and the nearby Parghelia is entirely characterized by extensive lush fields (larger than the initial place of origin, of Ricadi) rich of “Rossa di Tropea” crops.

Further, such crops have spread from the terraces of Monte Poro, Ricadi, long the coast from Nicotera, even until the plain of Lamezia Terme.

The onion of Tropea, which boasts the Italian protective denomination IGP since 2008 is spread all over such large territory.

If you see one of this onion, such really healthy souvenir of an ancient past (surely, Assyrian, therefore old of 4,500 years!) has a round or ovoid shape, is delicious, light, refined and crunchy.

In old cuisine of Assyrians it was a common element, a must for every dish. The crops were large all over Mesopotamia, while the importation began with Phoenicians…

An Assyrian kitchen

In short words, a magical gift of nature and history, cultivated on volcanic soils, fresh, deep, rich above all in potassium, studied by pedologists all over the world in order to trace their origins and justify the noble, particularly fertile composition, represents a real elixir of long life.

PROPERTIES

Indeed, Tropea onion prevents heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases, has antibiotic and antioxidant properties; contains “thiols”, natural organic compounds that counteract the accumulation of fat sediments in the blood, cleaning it from the lipoproteins that pollute and harden the arteries.

Further, it is indicated as a remedy for skin diseases, gives relief in case of cold and flu, tones veins and arteries.

It has a beneficial effect on diuresis and hypertension, treats intestinal infections, prevents kidney stones and pertussis, finally is diuretic.

A plenty of healty components

For all these reasons, the Tropea onion, which contains only 26 calories per 100 grams of product, is indicated in the diets of heart patients for its antisclerotic power, fighting the physical deficit due to the high content of iron and vitamins, lowering free radicals and levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.

Oncologists, further, say that its “flavonoids, phenols, quercetin and mineral salts” greatly reduce the risk of cancer of the larynx, liver, colon and ovaries, while its chromium sulphides are effective in treating diabetes, reducing blood sugar.

Oncologists, further, say that its “flavonoids, phenols, quercetin and mineral salts” greatly reduce the risk of cancer of the larynx, liver, colon and ovaries, while its chromium sulphides are effective in treating diabetes, reducing blood sugar.

GASTRONOMY

The Tropea onion is ideal for sauté, in vinegar, in mixed salads with fresh tomatoes, olives and oregano.

Further it is the main ingredient of many delicacies including “ice cream” and a very good “jam“, accompanying meat,  aged pecorino cheese, caciocavallo, “gorgonzola” (the well known creamed cheese) and omelettes in general.