Frequently Asked Questions
WHY IS OLIVE OIL ALWAYS SOLD IN DARK GREEN BOTTLES?
Heat, light and oxygen are the enemies of olive oil. Using dark glass—commonly green—to store, transport and sell olive oil protects the oil from degradation by light. Together with keeping the bottles in dark, climate-controlled storage, ideally between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, dark glass helps to slow the natural aging process and preserve the health-protective properties of the oil. We use inert gas in our vats during storage and transport of bulk oil to minimize oxygen exposure, and recommend that you keep bottled oil securely capped when not in use. Even olive oil as fresh as ours, which can sometimes be available in our storefronts only weeks after harvest, should be consumed within 24 months of harvest for optimum oil quality and health benefits.
WHY IS THIS DELICIOUS OLIVE OIL CHOKING ME?
Newcomers to fresh olive oil are often surprised when they experience a slight cough or tingling in the throat after taking a sip of olive oil in our Tasting Room or at one of our event booths. This is actually a common sensation when tasting olive oil. In fact, the peppery, green flavor and urge to cough that frequently accompanies high-quality olive oil stems from a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols are excellent at fighting oxidative stress and contributing to good health. Though they are only one of the many types of health-protective antioxidants found in olive oil, they are very important to the flavor of the oil.
There are several factors that affect the polyphenol concentration in olive oil, but the timing of olive harvest is one of the most critical. For example, early harvest Mission olives typically contain more polyphenols, resulting in a strong, spicy flavor. During the time that the olives continue to ripen on the tree after the first harvest, the polyphenol counts slowly decrease, mellowing the flavor of the resulting oil. Our Mission groves produce a buttery mid-season oil, and a delicate, light, late season press. While the health benefits may decrease slightly with the later harvests, these milder oils are often considered more versatile in the kitchen, making an excellent ingredient for baked goods, condiments, dressings and more.
Your olive oil tastes...different. Why?
Much of the olive oil available in chain stores is old, and if you've been following the news, may not even be pure, unadulterated olive oil! It has often sat so long that it has very little health benefit, and it tastes greasy, rather than fresh, green and spicy on the palate. Consider the olive oil tasting experience at our Tasting Room or event booth the beginning of a journey of exploration into the vast and diverse world of fresh, healthful olive oils, and don't stop at Mission! There are numerous varietals to try, each with a distinct flavor profile, nuanced by the terroir or "taste of place" the trees inherit from their environment. Check out our Events page, and follow us to California tasting events and venues where you will meet many other artisan growers who are bringing fresh, craft oils directly to the consumer.
If you'd like to learn more, the UC Davis Olive Center is an excellent resource, offering tips on being an informed consumer of olive oils, and research reports on the health benefits of olive oil as well as investigations into olive oil adulteration.
WHAT IS A "MISSION" OLIVE?
The Mission olive is believed to have originated from Morocco, though it has traveled far and woven a storied history in the New World. Olives were first brought to California by missionaries from Spain, and the Mission olives grown today can be genetically traced back to the orchards of the Jesuit and Franciscan missions founded throughout modern-day California between the late 1700's and early 1800's. In the missions and surrounding settlements, olive oil was used for cooking, healing wounds, and lubricating machinery. Long years of cultivation, careful selection of trees that produced excellent fruit to propagate new orchards from, inter-planting with other varietals, and natural selection have all been forces that shaped the Mission olive as a uniquely Californian cultivar.
how do i choose between your Early, mid and late harvest olive Oil?
The earliest press of the year, when the fruit is green, offers the highest concentration of polyphenols. In the Mission varietal, this early harvest yields a robust, Spanish style oil that has often been described as spicy, green or grassy. We recommend it for traditional Mediterranean cuisine (think rich marinara or mouth-watering paella) or for fresh dipping with a full-bodied balsamic vinegar—both instances where you want the flavor to shine. By the time our Mid-Harvest EVOO is pressed, the polyphenol count of the olives is starting to decline slightly, and the fruit is a mix of green and ripening black olives, allowing the flavor to mellow. This smooth oil is still fresh and clean on the palette, but the buttery notes that the Mission varietal is known for are starting to emerge. it is versatile in the kitchen while still adding flavor to recipes. The Late Harvest oil can only be described as intoxicatingly buttery. What it loses in antioxidants it makes up for in delicate flavor and supremely light consistency. It is well-suited to fine baking, and offers a heart-healthy substitute for vegetable oils in your favorite entrees. We might be a little biased, but we can’t choose a favorite—we really think that no pantry is complete without all three.