Olive oil is essentially the pure ‘juice’ from the fruit of the olive tree, referred to in ancient times as ‘the nectar of the gods’. It is one of the oldest traded commodities: an essential spice, central to the early economic development of Mediterranean civilisations, who used olive oil for cooking purposes and as medicine for a number of ailments.
Today, olive oil is still an essential ingredient to numerous communities around the world: Spain, Morocco, Greece, Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, France, United States, Italy and Australia, to name a few. Each country grows it own predominant olive varieties, which are best suited to the particular climate and typography of the area. Consequently, each country produces an olive oil that has aromas and flavours unique to their region.
However, it is not just flavour and aroma of an olive oil that varies from country to country, but also its quality and the picking and processing techniques employed. Locally grown olive oils made from olives picked at the optimal time, processing within hours from picking and delivered quickly to local stores are generally the freshest and the most flavoursome you can find.
Present standards and regulations can make it difficult to really know the quality of an olive oil and one must trust the supplier. In Australia, it is best to source an olive oil that complies with the Australian Standard which was published in 2011 – these oils carry the Australian Code of Practice symbol on their labels.