Author Archives: ameliaoil

The 2016 Olive Oil arrives – We’re in love again

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Good news olive oil lovers!

If you thought your year was going well so far – it just got better!

We’re so very happy to report that the 2016 oil is back on track. This is the oil that reminds us of why we fell in love with Amelia Oil in the first place.

I guess to be truthful we have 2015 to thank for this gem. After all, the olives were grown in 2015. It seems the weather was pretty kind to them this time round.

Just to remind everyone, the reason it’s called the 2016 oil when it’s grown in 2015 is because it wasn’t harvested and pressed till the very end of the year and wasn’t ready for consumption until 2016, hence we call it the 2016 oil.

An important feature of our oil is that each bottle or tin has the harvest date and year marked clearly on the package. This is probably one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing olive oil. The freshly pressed oil is at its best. It’s flavor will slowly diminish over time even when stored in perfect conditions. So the idea is to “use or loose it”  (the flavour )

The other important factors are: where it came from; and how it was produced. It’s so sad but unfortunately true that you can’t be too careful in knowing where your food comes from these days. Olive oil  from Italy is high on the list of fraudulent imported foods. Italy is working on cracking down on this practice but it would seem your best bet is to deal with a smaller producer.

Amelia Oil comes from a small family farm proudly run by the Suatoni family for generations. They oversee the growing and the milling of the olives and take pride in knowing they adhere to sustainable agricultural practices. Their olives are grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides in the production.

We hope you enjoy the 2016 olive oil as much as we do.

Buon appetito!!

Update on the New Oil – Supporting our producers through a tough year

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I’d like to wish all our Amelia Oil customers the very best for 2015. I also want to wish our producers the Suatoni Family best wishes for a great growing year for olives in 2015 because 2014 was a challenging year for most of the olive farmers in Italy, France and Spain–perhaps the worst year in the past four decades.

Blame it on global warming or the stars but it was a wet year in Italy at all the wrong times. Living in Vancouver we don’t think twice about a few clouds. In contrast, when it rains continually in Italy, it doesn’t make for happy olives. It does, however, produce near perfect conditions for the olive fly to thrive and burrow into the olives as they are developing–ruining the crop. This was the case this past year in most of Italy. Along with a few other problems, it was the worst year for the olive harvest since 1985 when there was a hard frost that killed many trees. The conditions were so bad this year that many farmers decided not to head to the presses to make oil. There is an enormous shortage all over Italy and the prices have sky rocketed.

I have been sitting here in Canada holding my breath and waiting for the news of what, if any, oil will be available and at what price and what quality. Francesco was able to press some oil but he had to purchase additional olives from a few neighboring farms in order to make an oil that meets his high standards. I was skeptical and concerned. It also does not help that this oil will also be more expensive than previous years. I felt it was necessary to taste it before committing to an order.

I happen to be  in France right now for the arrival of Rachel’s baby boy Félix, our first grandchild.  Francesco sent over a tin, and I tasted the oil and feel it is really quite good. I have placed an order. There will be a price increase but the new oil is on its way.

I think it’s important to support our farmers even in tough years. Agriculture is a tricky business–often at the mercy of the weather, something we just can’t control. It is even a bigger challenge for growers like the Suatonis who don’t rely on the use of chemicals to battle pests and disease. Let’s all hope that this past year was just an anomaly and that future harvests will be easier.

I’d like to thank my loyal Amelia Oil customers for their patience in waiting for the new oil. I think it will be worth the wait. I will post the prices and give you an update on the arrival date very soon.

Auguri per un felice 2015

The Slippery Slope – Fraudulent Olive Oil

There seems to be renewed talk these days about the fraudulent olive oil industry: much of what is labelled EVOO from Italy is in fact olive oil from other countries cut with other cheaper oils then shipped to unsuspecting buyers around the world.

The latest buzz is a New York Times article – slideshow titled “Extra Virgin Suicide”: The Adulteration of Italian Olive Oil featured in last Sunday’s issue. //nyti.ms/MmFwiR It very graphically simplifies what is a complicated problem for the olive oil industry and the consumer.

Author Tom Mueller in his book “Extra Virginity” and on his blog has exposed much of this fraud. He is sited as the source of the information on this NYT chart.

This topic of fraud and adulteration comes into question with so many foods we eat. It is frustrating to think we can’t rely on labeling to guide us in our food choices. The same often applies to organic and GMO foods. We want to make healthy choices and find it increasingly hard to figure out who or what to believe.

Personally, I think the safest way to go about making choices is to know where your food comes from. Local farmers markets are growing in popularity because they give us a comfort zone that the food they sell is being grown in a healthy way and not by big agri-businesses that are more about profit than quality. Supporting small farms is a better way to ensure you get more wholesome food.

With our Amelia Oil we help to support a small family owned and operated farm in Italy. Our producers the Suatoni family grow their own olives, without chemicals. We bring you their oil each year just as soon as they have it pressed. When we first started this business in 2007, fraud wasn’t even on the radar screen for us. We just wanted everyone to experience what fresh olive oil tasted like. It was the oil we tasted when we were on the farm in Italy and loved. We knew it wasn’t the same as what we were getting back at home off the grocery store shelf. Now we hear that much of what is on the grocery store shelves is not even the real deal let alone fresh.

All I can say is Amelia Oil is an extra virgin olive oil that is grown and pressed in Italy by farmers who take pride in their product – pure and simple, nothing added.

Harvest 2013 – News from Umbria

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Francesco and Giuditta our producers tell us it has been an unusually rainy harvest season in Umbria this year. This has made the picking and pressing of the olives take a lot longer  than usual as they had to wait for some dry days to complete the task and the olives to ripen properly. Wet conditions make for plump olives but with less ratio of oil. It must have been frustrating for all the locals as well as they have to line up at the mill in order to get their olives pressed. Giuditta told me they were staying open 24 hours each day to get the job done. If the olives are wet they will develop mold and rot not producing a good oil. Who said farming was easy.

Originally we had hoped  to get the new fresh 2014 oil here before Christmas.  That plan went sideways when the weather failed to co-operate.

The good news is that in spite of the weather, our team in Umbria made bottling and shipping our oil a priority. They managed to put together our order in record time. I’m pleased to say that the Amelia Oil is on it’s way via ship to Canada as we speak with an estimated arrival of early January 2014.

Everything else this year went well during the growing season with adequate rain and no excessive dry spells. According to Francesco the Amelia Oil for 2014 will have a fresh green grassy taste that was perhaps lacking in the 2013 oil. He feels it is a more balanced oil in bitterness. It has a medium – intense fruitiness.

If you want to taste Amelia Oil at it’s peak flavor be sure a order some as soon as it arrives. I’ll be posting an arrival date on this site as well as on our Facebook page as soon as I can confirm.

 

Garlic Scapes and Pesto

One of my favorite vegetables to grow is garlic. It doesn’t take up much space in the garden and it is much better than most of the garlic that is readily available in grocery stores. In the summer the farmers markets often have great garlic producers who you can use for your source for planting your own. Talk to them and try a few different types and plant what you like best. I have found some types of garlic that I try to keep going each year. The time to plant is in October and the time for harvest starts in July. Each clove of garlic produces one head when planted. It is important to start with large heads as large cloves produce bigger heads of garlic.

The reason I’m mentioning garlic on my olive oil blog is – pesto. Not just your regular basil, pinenut, parmesean and olive oil type but Scape Pesto.

garlis spearsI just made some pesto as my garlic had formed scapes. Scapes are the curly gooseneck looking flower buds of the garlic plant. They usually start forming in June. It is in the best interest of the developing bulb of garlic to remove these. I cut them and make a pesto that is so delicious. You probably don’t have scapes unless you planted your garlic last fall but the farmers markets may have some. If so give it a try, it’s super easy and it may get you thinking about planting your own garlic. You do need a sunny location with good drainage to grow garlic. It should be possible to grow garlic in pots if you don’t have garden space.

Here is my recipe for

Scape Pesto

2 Cups of garlic scapes, cut into 1″ pieces

3 Tbsp sunflower seeds toasted

3 cups of basil leaves

1/4 tsp of sea salt

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/2 cup of Amelia Oil

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. I like it with a little texture.

It will keep for several days in the frig or you can freeze it.

It can be served with pasta or crostini.

Enjoy!

The Mediterranean Diet and Olive Oil

I don’t often go on about the health benefits of olive oil because there is just so much written on this topic. I feel my customers are already convinced that it is good for them health wise in addition to tasting delicious. In other words, why preach to the converted. However, the recent flurry of press activity around the latest medical studies involving the Mediterranean Diet may have made you curious. The other day a friend of mine who is a doctor e-mailed me the link to the actual study and description of the diet  which I will include for you to have a look at if you have the time or interest. You will note they allotted  1 litre of olive oil per week for a family with instructions to use liberally.

The Mediterranean Diet study from the New England Journal of Medicine

Description of Mediterreanean Diet from the study

To briefly summarize the study – It concludes if you include lots of olive oil and nuts in your diet and stay away from meats, animal fats and processed foods you could greatly reduce heart disease compared to a low fat diet. What is a real Mediterranean Diet like you might ask. I thought I’d mention a book that does  a good job of explaining this diet and includes recipes.

The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health by Nancy Harmon Jenkins is an excellent book. Jenkins published her first Mediterranean Diet Cookbook almost two decades ago so this concept has been out there for quite awhile.

I also love Ottolenghi’s Cookbooks which give you lots of great recipes that would fit well with the Mediterranean diet philosophy. I love his book – Plenty which has delicious vegetarian recipes. There is also the well designed Ottolenghi  iPhone app which helps you plan delicious meals on the fly from your phone.

 

 

About Our Oil

The Suatoni family has been growing and pressing their own olive oil for generations. They cultivate more than 1000 olive trees without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Our olives are cultivated with the love and care that comes from lifetimes of experience.

Amelia Oil is made from a blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Rajo olives. The flavour varies subtly from year to year depending on the rainfall and temperatures during the growing season. Our oil has very low acidity, which is one of main criteria for a good extra virgin oil – Amelia Oil is around .08% which is well below .15%, the required level for extra virgin labeling standards.

At Amelia Oil we believe in fresh oil. We receive our oil from the Suatoni’s within weeks of it being pressed, usually in January. Olio nuovo is incredibly green and fresh. To ensure that you get the freshest oil possible each of our bottles bears the harvest date. We encourage our customers to order their oil at the beginning of the year when it is at it’s freshest, and to use it up within the calendar year like the Italians do. It will keep much longer if stored in a cool place away from light.

Searching for Fresh Olive Oil – Why the Date Matters

It’s hard to believe I’ve been bringing in Amelia Oil to Vancouver since 2007. When my daughter Rachel persuaded me to start this importing business, I quite honestly didn’t know much about olive oil. She kept saying that there really wasn’t much in the way of fresh olive oil available in North America, and that was the reason it didn’t have much flavour. I did some research and snooped around the gourmet and better grocery stores to see if they had any fresh olive oil. At that time about the best I could do was to occasionally find a best by date. It occurred to me this could be dated way into the future to suit the needs of the seller. It still didn’t tell me how old the olive oil actually was.

My latest research tells me that a few producers are doing a little better in revealing the age but it is still a rare find. Considering the price of a litre of olive oil is all over the board I think the least an expensive brand of olive oil could do for the consumer is justify the price by revealing when it was pressed. It is of huge importance considering the oil, however good it was when it was first pressed will loose some of its flavour as it ages.

At Amelia Oil we mark each bottle clearly with the harvest date which is always be at the end of the calendar year–if the oil was harvested in November 2012, we will call it the 2013 oil. That is the year it will be ready for consumption.

The other thing I noticed is that some olive oil on the shelves is still in clear bottles. Light is the enemy of olive oil, as is heat. It speeds up oxidation, which makes the oil loose flavour. Our oil only comes in dark bottles (500ml) or traditional food grade tins.

There is some beautiful packaging out there but it doesn’t mean a thing if there is no harvest date on the bottle.

Our Farmers

Rachel met Francesco Suatoni when she was living in Amelia.

She was keenly interested in olive oil production and Francesco was happy to be her teacher. He ran the local olive mill and introduced her to life on the olive farm.

The Suatoni family have been growing and producing olive oil in Amelia for over four generations. Each family member is involved in some aspect of the production of the olive oil from pruning the trees to bottling the oil.

Today Francesco Suatoni heads the daily business operations but his father Vincenzo and his mother Anna are still very much involved. New to the team is Francesco’s fiancé, Giuditta who is also from another olive growing family. The family’s commitment to producing excellent oil is evident in the pride they take in their farm. The trees are expertly pruned and the fields are lush and green, the sign of a healthy herbicide-free farm. Their mill or frantoio is an immaculate operation.

In the Suatoni household, a family meal often consists of everything produced completely on their own farm, including the wine. It’s impressive and we’ve been lucky enough to share the experience as their guests.