Perry Rea of Queen Creek Olive Mill on What Makes Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil Good
This is part two of our interview with Perry Rea, owner of Queen Creek Olive Mill. Today, the certified olive oil sommelier explains the differences between good and bad extra virgin olive oil and gives us advice on how pick good oil. If you missed part one, in which we learned how the mill makes Arizona's only EVOO, you can read it here.
Evie Carpenter Perry Rea, owner of Queen Creek Olive Mill on the mills patio.
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Perry Rea and his wife, Brenda, are both certified olive oil sommeliers through the International Olive Oil Council. The title comes upon completition of a course that covers, among other things, how to detect the multitude of defects that can be present in EVOO.
"It's really easy to recognize the good parts of oilve oil," Rea says. "It's harder to understand the defects."
To be true "extra virgin" olive oil, oil can't contain any defects. Defects can fall under either the chemical category or sensory -- and while chemical attributes can be verified by third-party certification, sensory defects can often only be detected by professionals like Rea.
Evie Carpenter EVOO at Queen Creek Olive Mill
Good olive oil will have the following three qualities: fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency, each of which is rated on a scale from one to 10. But if it also contains musty, vinegary, muddy, or any of a number of other negative flavors, the oil cannot technically be classified as EVOO. Extra virgin is the highest classification of olive oil, which also means it's the most expensive type. Chemically, EVOO can't contain more than 0.8 grams of oleic acid per 100 grams. The lower the adicity, the fresher the oil.
And even among true EVOO, there's room for plenty of variance in flavor. Olives picked earlier in the season, when the fruit is green ripe, produce oils that usually is decribed as grassy, bitter, and peppery. Oil made from late-picked olives is often described as buttery and fruity.
"Different profiles of oil should be used in different dishes," Rea says.