1 General questions
1.1 I noticed that you have additional chemical analysis on your UP's these days.... Squalene and A-Tocopherol content. What are they and why are they important to know?
Very observant of you! Yes, we do have these analyzed for our UP's, and here is the scoop... Squalene is a natural substance found most commonly in olive oil, and is known for its anti-cancer and skin-protection abilities. It has also been known to aid against the effects of Parkinson's disease and in lowering bad cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol. A-Tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that is preferentially absorbed and accumulated in humans. The recommended daily amount (RDA) for adults of Vitamin E is 10 mg/day! The concentration of natural A-Tocopherols in EVOO ranges between 15-300 mg/kg, which represents approximately 30% of the RDA per serving.
1.2 What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the juice that is extracted from the olives when they are crushed. It is actually the only cooking oil that is not refined or made without any chemicals! The classification of 'Extra Virgin' means the oil is of the highest quality possible and has no defects. The term 'Virgin' means that it has not gone through industrial processing and has not been refined in any way.
1.3 What does 'UP' mean?
'UP' stands for 'Ultra Premium' and is a designation that only certain olive oils receive, depending upon their their chemistry and freshness! In order to qualify for the 'UP' grade, an olive oil must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of requirements, including how it is produced, stored, and transported, as well as a chemical analysis and rigorous taste testing by a professional taste panel. For more information on this, please visit upextravirginoliveoil.com.
1.4 Where do your olive oils come from?
Our olive oils actually come from all over the world. We 'follow the crush', which means that we get our olive oils fresh from the countries that are producing olive oil at the time. In May, Southern Hemisphere countries such as Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are harvesting their olives and producing olive oil. Northern Hemisphere countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and other European and Mediterranean regions crush olives and make their olive oil in November! We even get olive oil from California! By varying our olive oil sources, you can be assured that we always carry the freshest olive oil possible!
1.5 Does age really matter in an olive oil?
ABSOLUTELY! In fact, age is really the most important thing to know about an olive oil, and don't be ashamed to ask the question! Olive oil should be consumed as close as possible to the date of the crushing of the olives, and generally within 18 months of the 'crush date'. This is not to be confused with the 'best by' date, which doesn't actually give you the age of the oil. Not only does oil eventually become rancid, but fresh olive oil MUCH HEALTHIER because it is loaded with antioxidants! (see Health Benefits)
1.6 Is it okay to cook with olive oil?
Great question. Yes it is! Our Extra Virgin Olive Oils can take the heat very well up to 425 degrees so fire up your stove!
1.7 Some of your oils are flavored... how do you do this?
We carry both 'fused' and 'infused' olive oils that have been flavored with all natural ingredients. When an oil has been 'infused' with flavor, it means that the herbs, spices, fruits or vegetables that it is being flavored with are infused into the olive oil after the olive oil is crushed, until the desired flavor is achieved. It is then removed. Some olive oils are 'fused' with whole fruits (generally citrus fruit), which means that the pulp of the fruit is pressed with the olives when the olive oil is made. This helps to intensify the flavoring, and is also known as agrumato.
1.8 What is the best way to store olive oil?
It is important to store olive oil in a cool, dark place. Your pantry is the perfect spot! Also, please keep the bottle corked or cap on, to keep the air out. This will help preserve the freshness and health benefits of your olive oil.
1.9 What is balsamic vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is a distinct vinegar with roots dating to ancient Roman times. Our balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy. Unlike most Italian vinegars that are made of wine, these balsamics are made from the cooked juices of grapes, known as 'must'. Our balsamic vinegars are made by the cooking of the grape juice over an open wood fire until a brown, syrupy liquid develops. This liquid is then placed in old wood barrels, typically made of oak, cherry, chestnut, ash or juniper wood, with the tops left open to allow for evaporation. This starts the fermentation process and the juice is then aged based on the 'Solera method'. This means that, as some of the vinegar evaporates, newer, younger vinegar is added to the barrels. This process calls for the continuous and consequent topping up of the cooked must into the next smaller barrel so each year the new must is blended with the one from the previous year. Over the years, the flavors and aromas of the different barrels are absorbed into the vinegar, resulting in aged, sweet, thick balsamic vinegar. All of our vinegars have an acidity level of 4% or less, and we carry both white (made from green grapes) and dark balsamics (made from red grapes)!
1.10 What is the shelf life of balsamic vinegar?
Another great question! Balsamic vinegar improves with age, so it does not 'expire'! Just make sure you keep the cap/cork on the bottle when you're not using it.
1.11 How are your balsamic vinegars flavored?
They are flavored naturally... there are no artificial ingredients in our vinegars. Just as with our olive oils, any flavoring is done by infusing fresh herbs or fruits directly into the vinegar until the desired flavor is achieved.
1.12 Do your balsamic vinegars contain sugar?
All balsamic vinegars have some naturally occurring sugar, which comes from the grape juice. However, there are no ADDED sugars, caramel coloring or other artificial ingredients in our balsamics.
1.13 Are your products nut free?
Yes, except our nut oils (walnut and almond oil).
1.14 Are your olive oils and balsamic vinegars kosher?
Most of our olive oils are kosher. Our balsamic vinegars are not.
1.15 Do you do wedding or party favors?
ABSOLUTELY! We LOVE a good party! We will help you customize your favors in all ways, from flavors to frills! We suggest that you contact the store or stop in to discuss your wishes. We will suggest that you do a 'tasting' to see which oils and/or vinegars you would like to use; we can then further customize with ribbons, tags, and packaging to compliment your theme, colors, and taste!
1.16 What are the benefits of being in your Customer Loyalty Program?
On your first visit to the store, we typically will ask you if you are interested in signing up for our Customer Loyalty Program. This program allows us to keep track of the number of bottles of olive oil and vinegar you purchase. For every ten (10) 200 ML bottles (or larger) that you purchase, you will receive your next 200 ML bottle for FREE! Additionally, you will receive a $5 credit to spend when it is your birthday, and periodic promotional discounts. There is no downside to being in this Program! Unfortunately, the Program does not work with on-line orders.
1.17 Do you have a bottle recycling program?
Yes, we are an environmentally friendly business! Bring back your clean and fully dried bottles and we will refill them with the oil or vinegar of your choice, plus you will receive $1.00 off each re-filled bottle!
To clean bottles, rinse with hot soapy water and then run through a regular dishwasher cycle on the bottom rack. If you wash by hand make sure to use a bottle brush and hot soapy water. After washing, do NOT re-cork your bottles. If your bottles are not fully dry after cleaning, heat your oven to 250 degrees and place your bottles in the oven for approx. 15 min. or until completely dry. Remove with oven mitt as bottles will be hot. Unfortunately we cannot refill bottles that still have moisture in them, as it will ruin your new olive oil or vinegar.