“I now believe NZ produces the best EVOO in the world “ – Roberto Zecca, International Judge
New Zealand is rapidly becoming one of world’s most promising new producers of extra virgin olive oil. We have excellent growing conditions for the worlds’ best olive varieties and we’re able to produce oil that tastes great and wins international awards.
The benchmark for quality extra virgin olive oil in New Zealand is the certification which is awarded by Olives New Zealand. This red certification sticker or Olive Mark that is placed on Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) bottles, preserves the authenticity, superior quality, exceptional taste and the health benefits inherent in premium olive oil.
Olive trees were first brought to NZ in the 1800s by early settlers from Europe. Some of these trees are still to be found today.. In the 1980s serious propagation began in Blenheim with the introduction with new varieties from Europe. This saw olive groves established over New Zealand from the 1990’s. The terrain and climate in New Zealand support many varieties traditionally grown in Italy, Spain, Greece, Israel and France and there are now more than 1000 hectares of olive groves in New Zealand
Olives New Zealand is the Industry Association of Olives Groves with approximately 200 members. They run the certification program for New Zealand olive oil in an internationally acclaimed testing facility at the department of primary industry in New South Wales. For consumers, bottles with this certification tells you that the olive oil you buy is authentically EVOO and you can buy in confidence.
To be classified as extra virgin the oil must meet international standards which dictate specific chemical parameters, and the olive mark is only available for oil grown and produced in New Zealand. It is the consumers guarantee that the oil is extra virgin, is free of defects, and has the incredible extra virgin taste.
Unfortunately some independent tests have shown that some oils are labelled extra virgin yet do not meet international standard. These oils are not certified and may contain unsuitable fruit, may have been processed incorrectly, or they may have been chemically refined or mixed with other oils.
Any oil which displays the Olive NZ olive mark has undergone a rigid certification process and must meet the following requirements.:
Those oils that meet all the above requirements are eligible to use the OliveMark® once the Certification Licensing Agreement has been signed by the grower. The OliveMark® has been trademarked and is your guarantee that the oil is actually Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Unlike wine, EVOO is best when it’s fresh. NZ EVOO is usually available shortly after bottling. Fresh EVOO will bring to mind, fresh green grass, artichoke, fresh green olives, green herbs, nuttiness and even fruitiness like apple or banana. Storing the oil correctly is also important to retain its quality. Heat and Light are a threat. The oil should be stored in dark glass bottles, box containers, or tins. It does not need to be refrigerated but it should be stored in a cool dark place out of direct light.
When buying EVOO the fresher the oil the better The oil can be consumed up to two years from pressing, but good oil will still retain quality for some time after the best buy date. It’s important to buy from a retailer than turns over stock quickly, or buy directly from the grower and always look for the Olive Mark.
The exceptional freshness of NZ olive oil is what makes it amongst the finest in the world. Celebrated chefs and clued up home cooks know the importance of using the best ingredients and certified NZ EVOO qualifies as the best.
Certification allows us to make a better and an informed choice when we’re purchasing. The olive mark allows people to understand that there is a process behind the certification which allows us to have a premium end product.
Isobel Olives has gone through this rigorous certification process and are proud to display the Olive Mark on our bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. So when you purchase our oil, you know you are purchasing a premium oil with an incredible taste.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be readily substituted where margarine or butter is used for frying or sautéing. Sometimes olive oil and butter are used together to enhance each other's flavor in some recipes.
The conversion chart above is appropriate for most cake and pastry recipes where quantities are critical. All of our recipes in our Isobel Olives Recipe Book we use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter and we have tested each recipe! We have the extra pounds around our waist to prove it!
Taste factor should also be considered when using olive oil. A mild tasting olive oil should be used in most cake and pastry recipes because cooking will get rid of the aromatic olive oil flavors. Our delicate and Koroneiki extra virgin oils are perfect for this. Our stronger flavour oils - Medium and Robust are perfect for most main courses and meals that you want flavour to be important.
Have fun experimenting!
"According to the International Olive Council, Marlborough Extra Virgin Olive Oil is of exceptional quality and usually exceeds international Standards".
Chris Piper, from Isobel Olives, in our local paper this morning. (Blenheim Sun 18/7/2018)
a widely held but false belief or idea.
We find them everywhere. They spring up out of nowhere and take a life of their own. Mostly the source of where it began is never found. Social media perpetuates them and before long, the majority of people believe it to be true, and it gets harder and harder to cut through to the actual truth. Cue the latest research!
There’s a widely held but false belief that Olive Oil is unsafe to cook with, that it breaks down and produces compounds that may be detrimental to health. I hear it from people all the time. IT IS NOT TRUE, and it’s one of those myths that do the rounds all the time.
The latest research out has found that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the most stable and safest oils for cooking with. Australian researchers compared the effects of heating extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and an array of other common cooking oils and found EVOO to be the safest and most stable even when used at high temperatures. The investigation also dispelled several erroneous beliefs associated with cooking oils.
You can check out the research yourself here
But in a nutshell, it was found that EVOO produced the lowest amount of harmful substances when heated, yet other refined oils such as Canola, Peanut, or Coconut oils produced much more. The study also used much higher temperatures than those used in common cooking. This research provides unequivocal and definitive evidence that should finally dispel this myth. It shows that extra virgin olive oil is not only safe during heating at regular cooking temperatures, but is the desirable cooking oil when compared with others. The production of potentially harmful polar compounds and trans-fats was markedly lower in EVOO.
In yet another study:
“Compared with seed oils, EVOO is preferable for frying, especially in home cooking (IOC). Under proper temperature conditions, without overheating, it undergoes no substantial changes and its performance is usually equal or superior to refined vegetable oils, due to its balanced composition regarding both major and minor components (Santos and others 2013).”
Frying in extra virgin olive oil provides the potential for preventing cardiovascular diseases as indicated by the lowering of atherogenic and thrombogenic indices in fish and vegetables pan‐fried in EVOO. In addition, when EVOO is used for frying, several health promoting microconstituents like phenolics, tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene, and terpenic acids, enrich the fried food and become part of our diet.
So – next time you are doing a stir-fry or roast, grab your bottle of Isobel Olives Extra Virgin Olive Oil and apply generously. You’ll be doing your health a very big favour! To purchase your bottle - click here!
I gave up using plastic wrap (gladwrap) a long time ago. In the microwave I use paper towels. In the fridge I used Tupperware containers. It wasn’t a hard thing to do. The only thing I hate is having a draw full of plastic containers that never stack properly and always looks a mess. And then you have to find the matching lid! I’m positively sure I’m not alone in this frustration!
Plastic is a wonderful invention which has meant huge advances for industries like medicine, electronics, construction and transport. It has its place but we do need to shift our mind set and look for other solutions to keep it from polluting our earth.
We are now seeing the effects that plastic has on our planet. Every day there is an article highlighting the plight of polluted rivers, the oceans full of plastic, and the effect this has on our wildlife – fish and birds in particular. It’s heartbreaking when you see animals that have died because their stomachs are full of plastic. This is a human fault. No other animal pollutes like we do.
Every year, approximately 252,000 tonnes of plastic end up in our landfills in New Zealand, and over 8 percent of waste in our waterways is plastic. Worldwide, an estimated eight million metric tonnes ends up in the oceans each year – a rubbish truck's worth a minute, 50 per cent of consumer plastics are single use. There has now been plastic debris found in every one of our oceans, even the Antarctic, and by 2050, our seas are forecast to contain more plastic than fish. These facts make me really sad.
Recycling is not the solution – it only defers the problem, it is still rubbish that has to be got rid of.
The problem is immense, and we asked ourselves, how could we make a difference? We developed our Beeswax Cloths with plastic pollution in mind. If we can encourage people to reach for the Beeswax cloth rather than plastic wrap, then we are making a difference. It’s only a small difference, a tiny drop in the ocean, but we had to start somewhere.
I’ve been using our Beeswax cloths now for a while. I find they keep food really fresh. Cheese stays as fresh as the day you bought it. Avocado, bread, sandwiches, I’ve not been disappointed yet with anything I’ve tried it with.
And it beats trying to find those matching lids in my Tupperware drawer!
Sadly, our 2018 harvest is over. It's two weeks of hard work, but there's nothing like being outdoors in the elements, frost under your feet, sun shining, fantails flitting amongst the trees saying hello, and the olives raining down on you. At the end of each day you see the fruits of your labour with 1200kg of olives sitting in the bins, you know you are that much fitter and toned. Heck - I have biceps on me that I've never seen before - and won't again until the end of 2019 harvest!
I've had several people ask me how the harvest is done so here goes.
We meet early in the morning, and team get ready. We all help to put down the long mats under the trees. The compressor gets taken off the trailer, gets topped up with gas, and 'clappers' get attached to the compressor. The battery operated clapper gets attached to the huge battery and we're ready to go. The team using the clappers start at the end of the grove and work their way down. Meanwhile, the 'bin lady' goes and puts bins down the side of each mat ready to collect the olives. That was my job and I would say that was the most important job of the day!
The team using the clappers rotate. The Battery clapper is slightly lighter and can go higher, so the person using that collects the olives from the top of the tree. The other two work on opposite sides of the tree on the branches in the middle and bottom. If the ground team haven't anything to keep them occupied, they grab the plastic rakes and work the bottom of the trees as well. Once the team moves down the row of olives a bit, then team working the ground, roll the olives together using the mats. When there is enough in a pile, they are flicked into the bins and placed on the side of the grove ready for collection.
Once a whole row of olives have been collected they are lifted onto the trailer and poured into the main bin. While they are being poured, we use a blower to blow the leaves from the olives for two reasons. The first being that leaves add to the weight of the olives and we don't want to pay the press for leaves, and the 2nd, it's best for the press that there are few leaves and twigs as possible.
Once the end of the row has been reached, the mats are then moved to the next row and the process starts again. At the end of the day, Chris takes the olives to the Marlborough Olive Press, while the rest of the team roll up the mats and puts everything away. I'm already looking forward to 2019 Harvest!
Here's a little video I've compiled of the harvest this year.
This blog was written by the Bin Lady.
The Mediterranean diet has recently become very popular with medical researchers. It includes vegetables, and grains and not so much meat, and generous portions of olive oil. The evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University considers it more medicine than food.
A big study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, had men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who were at risk of heart disease follow one of three diets. Some ate low-fat, another group ate Mediterranean diet with nuts and a third group ate a Mediterranean diet that included almost four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day.
The researchers found that the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent.
Olive oil is good for two reasons - it’s mostly unsaturated fat, and extra virgin oil which is the highest grade and least processed contains a whole range of other beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.
Many Olive oils imported into NZ and in our supermarket shelves are too old. It’s often been shipped from place to place and sometimes not stored well, which means many of the heart-healthy compounds have degraded and fizzled.
So where can you get your hands on the healthy stuff?
Look for brands that carry a harvest date on the bottle. Isobel Olives includes the date that the olives were harvested to produce the oil on the label, and the olives were pressed very quickly so the oil is fresh.
The most important thing to remember is that EVOO is not wine and it does not get better with age. However, as long as the olive oil is properly stored the freshness will hold in the bottle for two years. As soon as you open the bottle and expose the oil to oxygen and light, it will slowly start to degrade.
Oils with the highest level of heart-healthy compounds tend to be pungent and peppery. If the oil stings the back of your throat a little that tells you the beneficial polyphenols are really there.
So grab a bottle of Isobel Olives Olive Oil from the Farmers market this week or contact me today, and start protecting your heart.
Olive oil has wonderful health benefits, and there are new studies every year highlighting the properties in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that fight cancer and heart disease. However, there was a recent story about an Italian Mafia Practice of producing fake extra virgin olive oil which has Olive Oil consumers worried. This Olive oil often makes its way out of Europe and lands on supermarket shelves around the world. So how do you know you’re buying the real deal?
Here’s some tips to help.
Isobel Olives has a stall at the Marlborough Farmers market where you can taste, experience and enjoy our fresh certified extra virgin olive oil. I have four different oils to choose from, from a delicate taste through to a robust sensation. Chris Piper can tell you how it was produced and how to use it in your cooking. See you there on Sunday.