During the Salone del Gusto in Turin last week I attended the Slow Food Master in Olive Oil course. One interesting point that was raised was the importance (or lack of) low volatile acidity in extra virgin olive oil. For an olive oil to be considered extra virgin one of the main requirements is that it must have less than 0.8% (0.8 grams per 100 grams) of free acidity. But can the consumer really taste the acidity in the oil?
According to our instructor, the average consumer does not perceive much difference in the acidity of olive oil. We were told that the reason for the introduction of this legislation was to encourage better harvesting and processing practices. For example, olives should not be beaten out of trees, fruit should not be harvested from the ground, milling equipment should be kept clean and olives should be processed shortly after picking in order assure low acidity and better overall quality.
It is interesting to note the emphasis placed on low acidity by producers and distributors, while this is rarely part of the information presented on the bottle. Amelia Oil consistently has less than 0.3% acidity but what makes it exceptional oil is our guarantee of freshness, the farming and harvesting practices used, as well as the hygiene of the mill.
Tomorrow I am off down to Amelia to see how the harvest is going. I will also be tasting the olio nuovo and posting my notes here.