posted September 20, 2019 …Ann Oliver

extra virgin

a unique
opportunity to learn

You can be a producer, and interested member of the public, chef or judge but this is a unique opportunity to understand olive oil and table olives assessment at a professional level…click here for details.

People ask me what olive oil I use or recommend

But, the problem is I very rarely buy olive oil from a supermarket or specialty shop so it is a question hard to answer. Unless I unexpectedly run out I do not buy from these sources and I have absolutely no knowledge  of brands found in those places. However, I have been part of the Olives South Australia judging panel for over fifteen years having done the original training with Dr Giovancino from the International Olive Oil Council in the early 2000s. Also, while still working full-time I was often in the position to assess the oil and price with the buying power of many hundred of litres of olive oil annually. Understanding extra virgin olive oil was an important part of being a chef.

Not all great oils are entered into the industry judging system and not all oils that are entered into the judging system are great. Each year it is astonishing that a small percentage of faulty oils are submitted for judging and surprising that their makers understand so little about the product they are producing.

Home cooks and chefs in my acquaintance love the robust extremely feisty and bitter oils, oils which have their own judging category but they are oils that I personally don’t like and don’t use. My cooking is produce driven and I do not want the oil to override the flavour of that produce. Also, whilst a lot of my cooking is Asian and Chinese, my first love remains the French kitchen and I often cook with a mix of EVOO and butter. One those few occasions where I want the excellence of the olive oil to be at the forefront like for instance with a carpaccio or a simple green salad that will be dressed with nothing more than the best EVOO and a quality vinegar or lemon juice I am going to use the very best oil I can find.

Internationally favoured blue glass cups for judging olive oil

Remembering, I no longer cook for a living

I annually buy a new season bottle of either Coriole EVOO or Primo Estate EVOO. These oils are consistently superb. For the last four years I have purchased my olive oil from Patlin Gardens at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers’ Market.

This year after tasting their three oils they have produced I loved the Carigiola for its delicious fruit driven freshness, mild bitterness and a long, balanced finish. If you’re into robust then go for their Manzanilla, an equally good oil but just not my preferred style.

We use quite a lot of oil and buy it in clear glass flagons and keep it in a dark cupboard and decant a working bottle in a recycled dark green olive oil bottle that stays on the bench and is handy to grab.

Light damages olive oil and the dark green bottles are for a reason. Although many producers put a 2-year shelf life on their oils I would never buy an olive oil and keep it longer than 12 months. In the unlikely event that there is any leftover at the end of the season it is used for Frank Comorra’s fab bashed green olives

I am not a fan of flavoured oils and never buy truffle oil which is artificially flavoured and to me smells, regardless of how expensive, tastes more like garlic than it does truffle and it not worth the inflated price.

things that drive me nuts……misconceptions

People often ask if cook with extra virgin olive oil. The answer is yes of course! All olive oil producers aim to make olive oil that would get the extra virgin classification. My argument has always been why would you use an inferior oil when for very little price difference you can use a great oil.

The most annoying misconception for me is that you shouldn’t use EVOO for deep frying. We make the most fantastic chips using EVOO having been inspired by chips in Cyprus where the olive oil although not classified was definitely extra virgin and utterly stupendous and the Cypriot potatoes are celebrated throughout Europe for their excellence. We do choose our potatoes carefully.

Best oil of South Australian Olives Show 2019 Woodside Farm Pty Ltd…Woodside Farm

Buying and storing your EVOO

Rancid, musty, winy, tastes like walnuts, fat and flabby, blousy buttery, cloying and greasy on the palate………….too bitter, too grassy, too herbaceous.  All some of the faults and terms used when judging and describing olive oil. Colour is not part of the criteria and olive oil will not improve with age. Dark bottles are not a fashion statement UV damages olive oil and it should be stored in a cool dark place of constant temperature, ideally between 12°-15°C. Like wine there are good and bad seasons, and with the 2019 harvest we found more good oils than in 2018.

October SA & NSW

Sensory Training Workshops

There is an opportunity for interested public and producers to learn about olive oil from experts in their fields of sensory assessment Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay, Sensory and Consumer Science Researcher with the Department of Primary Industries received a grant to establish tutorials to improve public knowledge about EVOO and is conducting these training seminars with Peter McFarlane, OliveCare® administrator. Equally it is an opportunity for judges to refresh their skills. These are full day seminars from 9.00am – 5.00 pm


The workshop program includes TasteBook™ sensory training using EVOO and table olives, olive oil chemistry, freshness testing of EVOO and determining objective best before dates (BBDs).


Cost: $40 inc GST levy payers, $50 inc GST non-levy payers.

The next South Australia Sensory workshop on olive oils and table olives is on Saturday October 12 click here to make a booking

The next New South Wales workshop on olive oils and table olives is on Sunday October 27 click here to make a booking

For more information about the presenters Dr Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay and Peter McFarlane please use the links on their names.


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