Olive Oil Basics

Olive oil is the oil extracted from pressing olives. The olives are harvested, sorted, cleaned and mashed into a paste (pits and all is the traditional way although there are some more modern and more expensive methods where the olives are pitted first). The paste is mixed, then the solids of this mixture are separated from the liquids and finally the oil is decanted from the water. Once decanted, the oil is stored until it is ready to be bottled. Some oils are first filtered and then bottled.

Olio Nuovo is the first batch of oil from a season’s harvest and pressing. At its best, it is unfiltered but without sediment because the oil is so new, the solids haven’t had time to settle to the bottom of the bottle and instead they remain suspended in the oil creating a cloudy appearance. The oil tends to be full of big, fresh flavors. Olio Nuovo is typically available for about four to six weeks after pressing.

Olives are harvested October – December and sometimes beyond, depending on the climate. Warmer climates are harvested earlier and cooler climates are harvested later.

Olive oil does not get better with time. If stored properly, most extra virgin olive oil keeps well for about 18 months from the harvest / pressing date (not the bottling date!). Some extra virgin olive oils will keep their fresh flavors longer and can still be quite flavorful even a full two years after harvest / pressing.