Everything You Need To Know About Secolari® Cooking Olive Oils
Single Varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oils for Cooking
Each of our single varietal “Extra Virgin” olive oils originate from a single olive cultivar grown by family owned farms and estates located throughout California. Each olive oil is “first cold pressed.” This means that no chemicals or heat is used to extract the olive oil, and only the oil derived from the first mechanical pressing is used. This process helps preserve the antioxidants and healthy fats often attributed to fresh Extra Virgin olive oil. Each of our single varietals can be categorized as delicate, mild or robust.
Each olive oil is certified “Extra Virgin” by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC).* The COOC standards for the sought after Extra Virgin grade are stricter than those of the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), which regulates only some of the imported oils. In addition to strict chemical standards, each California olive oil must also pass the standards of an independent taste panel before it can be eligible to use the COOC certification seal.
*In keeping with full disclosure, Barth X. deRosa, a co-owner of SECOLARI, is also a member of the Board of Directors for the California Olive Oil Council
**By most Rabbinical Standards, Extra Virgin Olive Oils are considered Kosher by default.
Secolari® Flavored Olive Oils
Secolari® flavored olive oils are the best around. They originate from estate producers and family farms located in California. What makes them so unique is the way they are flavored. With a few exceptions,* each Secolari® flavored olive oil is made using the Agrumato method.
With this method of pressing, the freshly picked organic herb, fruit or pepper is added at the same time the olives are first cold pressed. Secolari has found these flavored olive oils to be far superior in taste, freshness and overall quality. This, of course, is in contrast to those flavored olive oils that are “infused” with flavor after pressing or which are flavored using natural flavoring extract or artificial flavors.
As established by the standards of the California Olive Oil Council, no flavored olive oil can be certified “Extra Virgin” by the COOC. However it is safe to say that if no fruit or herb were added, the blended base for each of these flavored olive oils likely would qualify as Extra Virgin by most standards.
*Our Tandoori, Serrano and Mantequilla flavored oils are naturally infused after pressing.
How Flavored Olive Oil Are Made?
One thing Mary and I quickly learned in our quest to “find olive” is the key difference between “flavored” olive oils and olive oils that are “infused.” “Flavored” olive oils are created when the herb, fruit, or pepper is added at the time when the olives are first “cold pressed.” This is called the Agrumato method, and these fused olive oils are made with fresh picked organic whole fruit or herbs, which are crushed together with fresh early harvest olives using 100% mechanical cold extraction methods. If the fruit or herb was not included in the pressing, this would be an Extra Virgin oil.
Infused Vs Fused Oils
In contrast, “infused oils” are created when the herb, fruit, or pepper is added after the olive pressing. Indeed, many producers of infused oils will not even add the actual produce to the olive oil, but actually utilize extracts. Others, we have found, will even add artificially flavored extracts. These “infused” oils are almost metallic and somewhat inconsistent and unbalanced in taste. Another key variable is the base oil that makes up the flavored oils – is it Extra Virgin oil or a lesser quality oil? Often times the base oil is in fact an inferior oil and does not qualify as an “Extra Virgin” under the standards of the California Olive Oil Council.
By far, in our view, “flavored” olive oils with an Extra Virgin oil base are remarkably superior to any “infused” oils that we have sampled. Yet even among the numerous “flavored” oils Mary and I tried, only just a handful compare to the exceptional oils we carry from this longtime California producer. This particular producer located in the Central California valley, traces his family roots to Sicily, and uses only the freshest and ripest herbs, fruits and peppers. He then adds them in prescribed amounts at the time the olives are first “cold pressed.” This proprietary process results in a thoroughly embedded olive oil that captures the fresh flavor and aroma of the particular herb, fruit, or pepper. The flavor is incredibly dispersed throughout the oil with an even and delicate balance. The flavor is not overpowering, but just right. Unlike other producers, no heat is added during the process. Further, this producer uses as his base oil, only oils that otherwise would qualify for the Extra Virgin stamp of excellence. While Mary and I have not sampled every flavored olive oil on the market, we certainly believe these Secolari-branded oils are possibly the best flavored oils on the East Coast.