Leonardo Olive Oil

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Olive Pomace Oil is light and neutral and is ideal for use in cooking and frying. Since it comes without any flavour, Olive Pomace Oil does not change the taste of the food being prepared with it. Additionally, because it is light, it is easy to use for any type of Indian cooking whether deep-frying or ‘bhuno-ing’. Olive Pomace Oil is used for frying in the Mediterranean region as well

Yes. Like other commonly used refined or cooking oils including sunflower, safflower, corn, soya, canola and others, Olive Pomace Oil is refined after extraction and then blended with Extra Virgin Oil for edible use.

Like commonly used seed oils including sunflower, safflower, corn, soya, canola and others, Olive Pomace Oil is chemically extracted from the residue (pulp) of the olive with the help of the solvent Hexane after the virgin oils have been mechanically extracted.

Olive Pomace Oil has the same beneficial fat composition as Extra Virgin Olive Oil: approx. 80% of mono-unsaturated fat (the good fat which reduces bad cholesterol) and a mere 10% of saturated fat (the bad fat).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has additional health benefits in the form of anti-oxidants but many of these are lost when the oil is heated. The best use of Extra Virgin is raw, when the full benefits of its flavour and health attributes can be fully experienced.

Olive Pomace Oil is certainly several times healthier for the heart than oils like ghee, vanaspati, sunflower, safflower, corn, coconut, palm and others that have traditionally been used in India.

Yes. Olive Pomace Oil is almost 50% cheaper than Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is used in the quantity of other oils. Since it has a high smoking point of 238℃, it can be re-used 3 to 4 times, if filtered after each use through a gauze, muslin or suitable paper filter. Thus, its effective price is 1/9th of its MRP.

No. Extra Virgin is the high end raw olive oil with perfect aroma and flavour. Olive Pomace Oil is no substitute for Extra Virgin, nor is it promoted as such. However, consumers (including no less a person than Sushma Swaraj, former Health Minister) report problems when deep frying with Extra Virgin because it is pure, viscous oil which can be unstable at high temperatures. Also, because of its strong aroma and flavour, some Indians dislike the slight change they say it causes in the aroma and taste of their daily food. Olive Pomace Oil is best regarded as the preferred alternative to other refined oils for edible use.

No. The rumor originates in incidents that took place in Spain in 2001 when the level of benzopyrene in some Olive Pomace Oil was alleged to be high. Benzopyrene is an aromatic hydrocarbon and is commonly seen as the black substance on the surface of burnt toast. No standard for benzopyrene existed at that time (the current permitted level is 2 ppm). Despite that, the Spanish Government confiscated all Olive Pomace Oil. The action was challenged in court. The Supreme Court finally decided that all government action was illegal and the government had to pay 12 million euro as damages to the affected company.

Yes. The International Olive Council (IOC), Madrid, the UNDP promoted inter-governmental agency, has notified the specifications for different types of olive oil and these can be seen in their website: www.internationaloliveoil.org. In the said notification, the following 4 types of oils are the only oils approved by the IOC and the EU for unrestricted sale and edible use.

It depends on many different factors, such as the quality of the olives, how ripe they are when picked, how they are stored before milling, how long they are kept between picking and milling, how the oil is extracted, and how the oil is stored. Each of these factors has to be dealt with at an optimum level in order to obtain a quality extra-virgin olive oil.

An extra-virgin olive oil can be assessed by consumers themselves, using the following criteria:

  • A particularly low price may be an indication of poor quality.
  • The label must clearly state that the bottle contains "extra-virgin olive oil", the company name and all of the producer details. The label on the back must also show the batch number and expiry date.
  • Process and product certifications are a further guarantee for the consumer.
  • Other wording referring to the acidity of the oil, such as "sw acidity" or even the acidity value shown in figures are not indicative. An indication of the acidity would only make sense if associated with other analytical and organoleptic values.
  • Tasting is at the heart of assessing the quality of oil. It must have a fruity bouquet, and taste more or less pungent and bitter. The bouquet and flavours of the oil must, taken together, make a pleasant and balanced impression.

In order to obtain a good extra-virgin olive oil, the olives must absolutely be picked from the tree. Either manual or mechanised systems can be used today. The manual systems are those which best preserve both the tree and the olives.

They are as follows: Hand-picking or "brucatura", harvesting the fruit by hand or using combs or rollers, even mechanical ones. Beating, or "bacchiatura" in which large sticks are used to beat the branches, to make the olives fall off into the nets spread around the base of the tree. This system enables three times the amount of olives to be harvested in a given time than hand-picking. However, this system causes many twigs to fall off, thus damaging the tree. Picking from the ground, a method used mainly for ancient trees which are too big to harvest using other systems the olives are picked once they have fallen off the tree. However, the quality of these olives is low, as fallen olives are already too ripe and they also come into contact with the soil. This makes the oils from these olives of rather poor quality.

The mechanical methods consist of shaking, or "scuotitura". A large mechanical prong, mounted on tractors. This prong is attached to the trunk of the olive tree, or in the case of bigger trees, to the boughs. It then begins to vibrate, causing the olives to fall into nets spread out underneath the tree or on the tractors.

The Italian term "invaiatura" or "turning colour" or "véraison" refers to the appearance of the drupe (olive fruit), i.e. the various phases of colour corresponding to the stages of ripening of the fruit. This is a visual index used to establish the moment when it is most appropriate to begin harvesting the olives. That is when the maximum quantity of oil can be obtained, without any loss of organoleptic quality. Using the véraison index, we can estimate fairly accurately just when the olives should be picked.

For this reason, a "véraison index" has been drawn up. A number is assigned to each class of colour, as set out in the table below:

  • Olives with an deep or dark green skin
  • Olives with a yellow or yellowish skin
  • Olives with a yellowish skin and reddish spots
  • Olives with a pinkish or pale purple skin
  • Olives with a black skin and totally green pulp.
  • Olives with a black skin and purple pulp halfway through the olive
  • Olives with a black skin and purple pulp through to the pit
  • Olives with a black skin and totally dark pulp.

As a general rule, though this may vary with the quality of the olives and the area, the best period for harvesting the olives is between at a véraison index value between 3 and 5.

No! The term “first cold-pressed oil” no longer has any meaning, as all extra-virgin olive oils derive from a single pressing. The term was used decades ago, before the advent of hydraulic presses which reach a pressure of 600 bars. The presses were turned by men or by animals, so in order to extract all of the oil, two or three pressings were needed, each preceded by malaxation. So at that time, the first pressing was of course much better quality. When hydraulic presses were introduced, that distinction soon became a thing of the past. It has, however, remained in the consumer’s memory, and so some legislations have preferred to use the same outdated terminology instead of communicating more accurate information. Apart from anything else, traditional methods using presses would seem to be dying out. Pressing has a number of drawbacks when compared with centrifugation. It requires much more labour input, more careful checks on the process, which is harder to monitor using modern technological tools, and is also more difficult to monitor in terms of food hygiene. And if that were not enough, the filter discs which separate the layers of olive paste deteriorate rapidly, and also tend to pass on any defects from one batch to another.

No! It is absolutely not an indication of a higher quality product. This wording only indicates one of the extraction methods (presses: traditional system for applying pressure) but not the quality. The quality is not guaranteed, as defective olives when cold-pressed will produce an extra-virgin olive oil that is cold-pressed but low quality! Apart from anything else, traditional methods using presses would seem to be dying out. Pressing has a number of drawbacks when compared with centrifugation. It requires much more labour input, more careful checks on the process, which is harder to monitor using modern technological tools, and is also more difficult to monitor in terms of food hygiene. And if that were not enough, the filter discs which separate the layers of olive paste deteriorate rapidly, and also tend to pass on any defects from one batch to another.

This is a test using the senses of smell and taste, carried out by a group of at least 8 PROFESSIONAL tasters, who as they taste will note the type of positive attributes and defects which the oil has, as well as their intensity, recording them on a profile sheet which groups all of the positive attributes (fruity, bitter, pungent) and all of the defects (winey-vinegary, musty-humid, earthy, fermented, rancid and fusty-muddy sediment). For an oil to be classified as an “extra-virgin olive oil”, the median value of the defects must equal zero. However, the new organoleptic testing method for extra-virgin olive oil, modified by the IOC (International Olive Council) in 1996, aims to classify extra-virgin olive oils on the basis of any defects perceived and their intensities, into “extra-virgin”, “virgin”, “ordinary virgin” and “lampante virgin”. Unlike the previous method, introduced by the IOC in 1987 and updated in 1991, the latest version gives less room to positive attributes, and concentrates on the defects.

As the fatty acids it contains are more stable than the ones in seed oils, olive oil is ideal for frying, as the critical temperature (or smoke point) is much higher than the usual temperature for frying foods. All oils at high temperatures and in the presence of oxygen will accelerate their oxidation, and this is even greater for unsaturated fats, whereas this process is slowed down by the presence of antioxidants. Under such conditions, polyunsaturated fatty acids are very unstable, and oxidise very quickly forming free radicals and polymerising; olive oil, which contains more stable monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, is the only oil which reacts well to the combined attacks of oxygen and high temperatures. Every fat has its own critical temperature, known as the smoke point, above which the glycerol contained in the fatty acids begins to decompose, forming acrolein, a very dangerous substance, especially for the liver.

SMOKE POINTS OF OILS AND FATS: Critical temperature

  • PALM 240° C
  • PEANUT 220° C
  • OLIVE 210° C
  • IDEAL TEMPERATURE FOR FRYING 170/180° C
  • LARD, COCONUT 180° C
  • SUNFLOWER, SOYA 170° C
  • GRAPESEED, RAPESEED, MAIZE 160° C
  • MARGARINE 150° C
  • BUTTER 110° C

As can be seen, olive oil has a higher critical temperature than the optimum temperature (170-180° C) for perfect frying. Lard, coconut, sunflower, soya, grapeseed, rapeseed (or various seeds), maize, margarine and butter all have a lower smoke point, and so are less suitable for frying. As can be seen from the table, peanut and palm oil have a higher critical temperature, and so they are more resistant to heat, but these fats are also full of saturated fatty acids, which from a nutritional standpoint clog up the arteries, leading to the formation of blood clots, which are causes of such diseases as atherosclerosis, cerebral thromboses and heart attacks. Compared with olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil has a slightly higher smoke point. However, the best cooks always prefer olive oil, as the intense flavour of extra-virgin tends to cover up the delicate tastes of the food, giving the impression of a greasy fry-up, whereas it should be dry. Also, the intense colour of extra-virgin olive oil makes the fried food darker than the optimal golden colour that is most appreciated for fried foods.

It is the percentage of free fatty acids in the oil, and indicates greater or lesser degradation of the olives used in making it, and the lower the acidity the better the state the olives were in. Acidity is not something we can taste, but can only be measured by chemical analysis. It should not therefore be confused with the typical stinging caused by healthy fresh oils with high acid content.

It is not true that all Italian oil is good just because it is produced in Italy. And nor is it true that all Italian oil is the best in the world. However, it is true that in some areas, especially in Apulia, in Sicily, in Umbria and in Tuscany, where the combination of an ideal microclimate, air and soil etc., specific native cultivars, and state-of-the-art technology used in every production phase create excellent extra-virgin olive oils, that are indeed the best in the world. In the same areas, though, if the rules for making good oils are not followed to the letter, the product can be poor, i.e. with more or less intense negative attributes. And by the same token, anywhere in the world where those rules are followed (rational approaches in which anti-parasite and anti-fungal treatments are limited to the absolute minimum needed to keep disease at bay, olives harvested at the optimum stage of ripening so that they stay healthy, storage of the olives in suitable places in well-aired boxes, extraction of the oil just a few hours after harvesting in modern continuous processes, correct storage of the oil in hygienic tanks at controlled temperatures), then an excellent extra-virgin olive oil will be the result.

We could say that only 30-40% of oils produced in Italy can be called good quality and lacking any defects. Some 60-70% therefore have defects to a greater or lesser extent.

Wherever in the world that people observe all of the rules for producing good extra-virgin olive oil, a good product will result. The geographical origin of oil is therefore never a guarantee of quality. There are places, and not just in Italy, where there is an age-old tradition of olive cultivation, where those rules are observed, and where statistically the oils produced are of better quality. The oil will only be good if it is produced the right way.

These are anti-oxidant substances which – sometimes even more so than vitamin E – slow down oxidation, i.e. the aging of the cells in our organism. Their flavour is slightly bitter and pungent, which is typical of top-quality oils. They are widespread in nature: as well as oils, they can also be found in fruit, and especially in grapeskins, where they are the substances that give grapes their colour.

It is the fruit of the olive tree, ovoid-shaped, made up of the following parts, from outside to inside: exocarp (or skin), mesocarp (pulp or flesh) surrounding the endocarp (pit or stone).

Fiscoli are disk-shaped supports with a hole in the centre which are used in traditional discontinuous extraction processes (hydraulic presses). In ancient times, these disks formed a sort of pouch which was filled with olive paste. Today, this paste is spread over the fiscoli just after the olives have been ground. Once the disks have been covered in olive paste, they are piled up on top of each other and pressure of up to 600 bars is applied, thus extracting a mixture of oil and water.
The material used to be jute; today nylon has replaced that. In any case, traditional methods using presses would seem to be dying out. Pressing has a number of drawbacks when compared with centrifugation (continuous processes). It requires much more labour input, more careful checks on the process, which is harder to monitor using modern technological tools, and is also more difficult to monitor in terms of food hygiene. And if that were not enough, the filter discs which separate the layers of olive paste deteriorate rapidly, and also tend to pass on any defects from one batch to another.

All extra-virgin olive oils are originally cloudy. This is due to the fact that oils that have just been pressed still contain much of the water and residues from the pulp. So the fact that an oil may not be crystal-clear has nothing to do with its quality, but is purely an aesthetic preference. It is the bottler’s job to decide whether or not to filter the oils. Filtering removes most of the water and most of the pulp residues. Filtering is a purely mechanical process, so it does not change the nature of the oil in any way. Again at the discretion of the packager, as well as filtering, oils may be subject to a final filtering process known in Italian as brillantatura (or polishing). The oil is passed once again through filter paper, in order to make it brighter and shinier. Some of our products, such as FRUITY GOLD and our extra-virgin olive oil GOLD SELECTION, are not filtered but simply decantered.

However, due to the presence of a small quantity of water in unfiltered oils, it is advisable to consume them more quickly, as water makes them deteriorate faster than filtered oils.

No. The presence of solid curds (that look like butterflies or very pale cotton wool) indicates that the oil has been kept at a very low temperature and has frozen. That does not affect its quality at all – quite the opposite in fact: it is a guarantee that the oil has been kept “away from a source of heat”. When the bottle is taken into the warmer surroundings of the kitchen, it will go back to being more fluid.

It may come as a surprise to know that the best formats for keeping oil are the smaller ones (1 litre or smaller, 500 ml or even 250 ml). This is because it takes longer to finish larger containers, and in that time, the level of oil in the container (perhaps 5 litres or more) drops, and the oil comes into contact with an increasing amount of oxygen, so it oxidises more rapidly and can go rancid. In smaller formats, that happens less easily, because the oil gets used more quickly.

Just like wine and other non-industrial products, oil can have different characteristics from one year to another, and during the year as it ages it tends to become sweeter. Even the amount of rainfall in a year can affect the taste – drought will make the oil more bitter! Also, there will be quite a difference between a bottle of oil filled in October from one filled in November or December when the newly-harvested olives are used for the first time – the olives being fresher, the taste will be that much better. So probably any differences you may have found will have been due to factors such as these.

Usually a rancid smell (not unlike the smell when you open a packet of crisps) is due to the olive oil’s oxidation process, and at the same time the oil tends to take on a orangey-reddish hue. Therefore please make sure that the flavour you call rancid is not the slightly bitter pungent sensation you get from all top-quality oils, which is due to the olives being particularly fresh and having just been ground. Any rancid defects may have been caused by unsuitable storage; sometimes all it takes is for the oil to come into contact with direct sunlight for it to age very quickly. In such cases please point this out to the retail outlet where you bought the bottle, and make sure to ask for a replacement.

Extra-virgin olive oils naturally have their own colour, which can vary from green to yellow. This is due to the fact that extra-virgin olive oils naturally contain both green and yellow pigments in varying quantities. If there is a predominance of yellow pigments, then the oil will have more golden hues, whereas if the green pigments dominate, then the oil will be greener. So the variability in colour from deep green to much paler yellow ones is completely unconnected with the quality, whether at a chemical or an organoleptic level. The prevalence of green or yellow hues may depend on a variety of factors, such as the cultivars and the place of origin, the ripeness of the drupes, the type of extraction equipment or the type of process used. For all these reasons, and given that the colour of an oil, as we have seen, may be caused by a wide range of factors, we advise against choosing on the basis of colour. It is interesting to note that tasters drink their oil from coloured vessels (blue or brown glass) so that they are not influenced by colour when they taste.
That said, the presence of reddish hues indicates that the oil has deteriorated because it has not been kept away from the light.

A slight pungency and bitterness are typical of top-quality oils, made from freshly-picked olives ground within a few hours of harvesting. Together with the fruity olive taste, bitter and pungent are the other two positive attributes listed in the organoleptic assessments when a panel test is carried out on extra-virgin olive oil (see “What is a Panel test?”).
The bitter and pungent flavours are due to the natural antioxidants present in extra-virgin olive oil, known as polyphenols, which as well as protecting the oil itself from oxygen, also play a powerful antioxidant role inside our bodies. Indeed, it is in our top products, such as “Fruity Gold” and “Gold Selection” that these attributes stand out most. Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency can of course be found by tasting an olive straight from the tree that has reached the right véraison.
As the olive matures, these flavours gradually fade away, and so too the oils which are produced from them will be less fruity, less pungent and less bitter.

A slight pungency and bitterness are typical of top-quality oils, made from freshly-picked olives ground within a few hours of harvesting. Together with the fruity olive taste, bitter and pungent are the other two positive attributes listed in the organoleptic assessments when a panel test is carried out on extra-virgin olive oil (see “What is a Panel test?”).
The bitter and pungent flavours are due to the natural antioxidants present in extra-virgin olive oil, known as polyphenols, which as well as protecting the oil itself from oxygen, also play a powerful antioxidant role inside our bodies. Indeed, it is in our top products, such as “Fruity Gold” and “Gold Selection” that these attributes stand out most. Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency can of course be found by tasting an olive straight from the tree that has reached the right véraison.
As the olive matures, these flavours gradually fade away, and so too the oils which are produced from them will be less fruity, less pungent and less bitter.

Because that is not what determines whether a product is good or not. The law which allows the country of origin to be shown on the label (Italian, European Union, outside the EU) makes no mention of any quality criteria, so the words 100% Italian can even be used for “virgin” quality oils, i.e. a quality that is of course inferior to extra-virgin. Emphasising the Italian-ness of the product does not give the consumer any guarantee that the oil they are looking at is any better than another. In this chaos, PANTALEO have decided not to push the Italian-ness of our products, but to show on the label some of the objective parameters which the consumer can use to “measure” the quality of our products, i.e. the acidity and the organoleptic characteristics.

The batch number on our labels can be read as follows:

  • The first figures, e.g. "10:30" stand for the hour and minute when the oil was bottled.
  • The letter "L" precedes the identification code and is always present
  • The next two numbers, e.g. "08", are the last two figures in the production year. In this case, the production year was 2008.
  • The next three numbers, e.g. "070", are the number of the day in the year when the oil was bottled. So this number can range from "001" to "365" (or "366", if it is a leap year). So "001" stands for "January 1st" and "365" stands for "December 31st".
  • The next three characters, e.g. "A09" is the alphanumeric code for the product and is connected with the traceability of all the materials used both to make the bottle and especially the oil it contains.
  • Finally comes the "best by date", e.g. "31/05/2009".

The Batch code enables us, in the case of any complaint from one of our customers, to identify the worker who bottled that particular oil, to see the results of all the assessments carried out and the materials used for and during the production, and to understand exactly which oil it was.