Facts About Olive Oil You May Not Know: An Interview With OliveOlive
We're BIG fans of olive oil here at BoroughBox HQ. We think almost anything can be improved with a dash of this golden good stuff. Curious about the process of growing olives and extracting their oil, we reached out to one of our marketplace sellers, Rob, proud co-founder (with his wife Pam) of Olive Olive. They sell premium olive oil grown from Pam's family farm in Cyprus.
We had so many questions. What makes oil 'extra-virgin'? What does cold-pressed mean? How can I tell which brand to buy? Read on for all the answers!
What’s the background story on how the company started?
Pam has always been sent the family’s olive oil over the years and whenever she gave some to friends they couldn’t believe how good it was compared to what they usually bought. So when the time was right we just decided to give it a go, and here we are all these years later!
Can you describe the process of how olives are made into olive oil?
It’s a very simple process: Our olives are handpicked, then taken to the mill where they are washed, squashed and spun in the centrifuge. At the end of the process there are 3 exit pipes - one for the water, one for the pulpy waste and lastly one for the beautiful super fresh extra virgin olive oil.
What does ‘extra virgin’ olive oil mean?
By law, every bottle should have displayed the following statement: “Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical means”. In short, it is solely the oil from cold pressed olives, pure and unadulterated, having undergone no extreme heat or chemical treatment and contains no more than 1% oleic acid. “Extra Virgin” also denotes that the oil is free of defects of flavour or odour.
What tips have you got for recognising a good olive oil? Is the ‘taste test’ the best judge or are there other things to look out for?
Never buy what’s on offer at the supermarket, and also don’t assume an expensive olive oil is better because of the price - there are an awful lot of bad olive oils out there. Never buy if it’s in plastic or in a clear glass bottle. It’s worth doing a bit of research - can you trace the story back to the farm or whether it is sourced from different countries, in which case how can you really trust the contents? Check the reviews - see what other people say about it. Find a trusted supplier. Buy a small bottle and if you’re happy with it buy a big tin and decant when needed to save yourself a small fortune.
Could you break down the myths about cooking with olive oil? Can I use it for everything?
Absolutely, in the Mediterranean they’ve been cooking with olive oil for 5000 years! They don’t have dozens of different options like we do in the UK - it’s not necessary. You may not want to deep fry with it but anything else is no problem at all. This is one of the great myths, but the good news is you needn’t worry about it - we use our olive oil for salads, dipping, shallow frying, baking, everything.
Let’s talk about your halloumi! What do people need to know?
My Cypriot mother-in-law Chloe says it’s the best halloumi cheese in Cyprus, and you don’t argue with your mother-in-law! She’s been buying her halloumi from the Stephani family for years and immediately took us to see them when we first thought about offering halloumi alongside our olive oil. She’s right - you won’t find a better halloumi. It’s full of flavour and nowhere near the flavourless rubbery stuff in the supermarkets. All that stuff is mass produced with mostly cow’s milk which makes it cheaper but also synthetic and flavourless. Cyprus Village halloumi is hand made with 100% goats milk - the best halloumi money can buy (not just because my mother in law says so!).
We hope you’re feeling a little more illuminated after reading our conversation with Rob! Who knew olive oil had so many different nuances? We don’t know about you, but we’re dying for a salad onto which we can drizzle our delicious olive oil. If you fancy that too, head to the link below!