Olive Oil, Balsamic, and Store Q&A
Q&A Olive Oil
What Influences Olive Oil Grade?
All olive oil starts with fruit on a tree. What happens after the fruit and the tree part company makes all the difference to the oil produced. Later viewing of the other buttons on this site will inform you of the many factors influencing the end products of the olive fruit..
According to the United States Department of Agriculture the only acceptable grade of olive oil is Virgin Olive Oil. The Food and Drug Administration definition is,” Olive oil is the edible oil expressed from the sound, mature fruit of the olive tree." No recognition is given to refined or extracted oil.
The two ways to assess virgin olive, chemical and organoleptic analysis, are equally important even though one is totally objective and the other is totally subjective.
Laboratory analysis can tell us about the levels of beneficial polyphenols and oleic acid, and the products of deterioration free fatty acids and peroxide. But it can not tell us anything about the pleasure to be derived from using fresh, well made oil.
Organoleptic analysis happens in the nose and mouth of the taster, either professional or you as the end user. Aesthetic notes of fruity, nutty, fresh grassy, peppery, and many, many others are there in varying balance that give complexity to the oil and appeal in different ways to each person. Laboratory analysis can track down the chemical nature of those flavors and aromas, but the human sensory system is still the best organoleptic analysis device. As we will recommend many times in this website, please give yourself the opportunity to taste and assess many olive oils to educate your palate and help you find the oil that gives you the most satisfaction.
Most grading is based on the method of production (explained at the HOW button) and designations are a marketing tool used by producers. The terms can be confusing and sometimes intentionally misleading. Once again it is important to know as much as possible about what you choose.
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries.
Virgin olive oil is produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. , has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product.
After these two grades come the blends of oil that are mainly (up to 90%) refined oil and virgin Olive oil.
Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. No solvents used used to extract the oil but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters
Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity, and lacks a strong flavor.
Olive-pomace oil is refined pomace olive production oil possibly blended with some virgin production oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely sold at retail; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. This is obtained by refining virgin olive oils which have a high acidity level and/or organoleptic defects which are eliminated after refining. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. Note that no solvents have been used to extract the oil but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. An obsolete equivalent is "pure olive oil"
Pomace olive oil is extracted from the pomace using chemical solvents, mostly hexane, and by heat. Sometimes blended with some virgin production oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely sold at retail; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
Lampante oil is not suitable as food because it is made usually from olives that are spoiled or insect infested.; the term lampante comes from olive oil's long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market. It must be chemically refined before it can be consumed. The resulting oil, after refining, is known as A-Refined, or Refined-A olive oil. It is not, strictly speaking, "olive oil." It is used as the primary ingredient for a new product that is sold as "Pure Olive Oil.”.
As the United States is not a member, the IOOC retail grades have no legal meaning in that country; terms such as "extra virgin" may be used without legal restrictions.
Since 1948 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)has listed four grades of olive oil based on acidity, absence of defects, odor and flavor:
U.S. Grade A or U.S. Fancy possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 1.4% and is "free from defects";
U.S. Grade B or U.S. Choice possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 2.5% and is "reasonably free from defects";
U.S. Grade C or U.S. Standard possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 3.0% and is "fairly free from defects";
U.S. Grade D or U.S. Substandard possesses a free fatty acid content greater than 3.0% and "fails to meet the requirements of U.S. Grade C".
With these diverse labeling styles and the small amount of information they provide, the best indicator of a good olive oil is obtained by tasting while keeping in mind the freshness and beneficial nutritional and antioxidant levels.
What is the most important information to know before purchasing my olive oil?
The single most important piece of information to the consumer is the taste...then the harvest year of an olive oil. Olive oil should be treated like a fruit juice. It is perishable. Olive oil should have a fresh, grassy, peppery taste. It should not taste flat and dead and oily with an old residue taste left on your pallet. Olive oil is the most healthy, most flavorful, and has the higher heat threshold, all from the bio phenols when used and consumed closest to its crush date. As an oil ages, it loses those properties. UV rays and oxygen are the enemy of good olive oil and darker glass with an airtight seal will keep longer. The "best by" date in store bought oil is an arbitrary date, and really does not provide the information a consumer thinks. Most has already been depleted of any little health properties and bio phenols it might have had long before it ever made it out of the storage tanks and onto the shelves here in the US.
What is the difference between Fused & Infused Olive Oil?
*From a flavor and taste standpoint, "Flavored" typically implies that the taste signatures of the food is changed or enhanced by a synthetic, non natural flavoring additive. "Fused" or "Infused" are terms used to describe using natural flavors to add to or enhance the tast signatures of a food.
We produce both fused and infused olive oils as all of our Olive Oils (& our Balsamics) are natural, unrefined or filtered, beautifully delicious and healthy, and full of incredible taste!
When an oil is fused, this means the olives were crushed with the fruit or vegetable, simultaneously. Fused oils tend to have wonderfully true, rich flavors! Our blood orange, lemon and Chili pepper oils are fused! Another term for fused oil is Agrumato.
Conversely, when an oil is infused, the all-natural, organic flavors, are added to the oil after the olives have been crushed. We use the infusion method when we have flavors that may be impossible or too difficult to crush with the olives, for one reason or another.
Why does my throat burns after tasting some of your EVOO?
All extra virgin olive oil should have at least a slight burning sensation on the end. In reality it is a “healthy burn”. One of the main health benefits associated with fresh extra virgin olive oil are polyphenols.
The higher the phenol content, the more pepper and bitterness the oil will have. For most people, bitterness and pepper is an acquired taste with the more robust EVOOs. However, we see people gradually move up the intensity ladder and eventually begin to enjoy robust oils quickly. They have intense and delicious flavor signatures!
What is the shelf life of my olive oils?
All olive oil is not equal! The shelf life of your olive oil will completely depend on the quality of the oil you are starting with, as well as the conditions in which it is stored. With our olive oils being among the freshest and highest quality available here in the U.S., you will run out from using them long before they are depleted of their delicious fresh taste and health packed bio phenols!
We do recomend using your oil within a few months of purchasing from us. In this industry, there are always exceptions to this rule, and you are likely to have an exceptionally fresh bottle still a year after purchasing from us. We stock and rotate with harvests from two hemispheres, giving our customers a unique opportunity to enjoy the freshest oil in the world, year around!
Your olive oil should maintain the highest bio phenols and taste for up to 14 months from the crush date. Once crushed in its country of origin, it is sealed in air tight, light blocking containers until it is shipped to our supplier at the Oakland CA port, and then shipped out to us here in Virginia. It then makes its way into our Italian fusti tanks, which block all light and air from oxidizing and wasteful aging of the oils. We fill and seal your dark glass bottles with the liquid gold and recomend you keep it out of direct sunlight or florecents, and keep the cork or airtight spout on it when not in use.
Good air and light practices should ensure your oil will be good for possiblities of even 2 years from crush date before the taste and health benifits degrade. Keep in mind, the higher the bio phenols, the longer your olive oil should also last. Just taste your oil, if the taste signature is flat, unflavorful, or rancid tasting, then it is time to toss it. Your olive oil should always taste fresh, peppery, grassy, and not leave a stale oil residue flavor on your pallet. If your oil has lost its taste, it is time to pour it out and come visit us for a fresh and delicious refill!
Should I refridgerate my olive oil?
Refridgeration is not necessary and when chilled, your olive oil will gell and you will need to set it on the counter to soften again. We recomend storing your olive oils in a shelf that does not catch direct sunlight or high florescents, or better yet, in your pantry or cabinets. The only time you may want to refridgerate your olive oil would be if you pour it into a spreadable dish and chill it to create a spread like soft butter.
There is a great debate going on over refrigerating and freezing extra virgin olive oil. We recommend storing your oil in a cool dark place. Although, freezing an extra virgin has been known to extend its shelf life, constantly changing the temperature (for immediate consumption) can mess with the chemistry and create condensation on the inside of the bottle. Absolutely, never purchase or store olive oil in clear glass or plastic, unless you plan on using it very quickly. Our sample size bottles are great for short term use, but you will want our medium or large dark glass bottles for longer storage.
What is “first cold-press”?
This is an outdated and overused term in the industry. It often leads to more confusion on the side of the consumer. “Cold Pressing” is referring to the temperature at which the olive paste is malaxed, in order to extract oil. Like almost every other aspect of the industry, these claims are unregulated and loosely applied to almost every oil on the grocery store shelf. In order for an olive oil to be considered, “Cold Pressed”, it must be processed below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Many producers choose to process their oils at higher temperatures, in order to extract more oil from the olive paste. However, as the temperature of the paste is increased during the milling process, the quality and integrity of the oil is jeopardized. Our average production temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result of processing at a cooler temperature, our yield goes down but our quality goes through the roof! In addition to heat, the amount of time the olive paste spends in the Malaxer, has a significant impact on the finished product. Over processing, yields more oil but also hurts the quality of the finished product.
Is it true that you are not supposed to cook with extra virgin?
This is a common misconception and one of the most frequently asked questions we receive. In fact, HIGH QUALITY EVOO is the most nutritional oil to cook with and new studies have shown that using an evoo high in phenols (antioxidants) for cooking & baking applications leads to a significant reduction in oxidation and the inhibition of harmful byproducts over other vegetable oils or olive oils lower in phenolic (antioxidant) content! The majority of the oils we offer are high in phenolic content, high in oleic acid (the healthful MUFA) and low in FFA (free fatty acid). There is a direct correlation between FFA and smoke point! The lower the FFA, the more the oil can be heated before it reaches its smoke point. (See Chart)However, there is some truth to this misconception. Low grade and the vast majority of the olive oil available in the grocery store, is relatively unstable under high heat and we wouldn’t advise cooking with it.
What is Pure or Lite Olive Oil?
Pressing oil from overripe, insect infested or broken olives will yield an inedible oil that has been used historically for burning in lamps and graded “Lampante” Because overripe olives have higher oil content than ripe olives modern refining methods have been developed for reclaiming the oil for food purposes.
The resulting product is an odorless, tasteless, colorless fat known in the olive oil trade as Refined-A olive oil. All of the flavor and essential polyphenols associated with real or virgin olive oil have been stripped away, but by adding as little as 3% virgin olive oil refiners are legally permitted to sell and market the resulting mixture as 100 % Pure Olive Oil and Light or “Lite” olive oil. Most mixtures contain and 90% Refined-A and 10% virgin. The caloric content is the same for all grades of olive oil.
Damaged and overripe olives suitable only for inedible oil
Refined-B Olive Oil
Olive pits and skins are what remain after the virgin olive oil has been removed. It is possible to chemically extract another three to four percent of oil by applying extreme heat, solvent (hexane), and sodium hydroxide. Simply bleach, winterize, and deodorize. If all of the harmful chemicals are recaptured the resulting odorless, tasteless, fat will not poison you, but it is against the law to call this empty fat “Olive Oil.” Many people who buy refined pomace olive oil mixed with a little real olive oil mistakenly believe they are getting a bargain, but they are losing the opportunity to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of genuine olive oil.
For more info on refined oil visit
Q&A Balsamic Vinegar
Is Balsamic vinegar good for you?
Answer credited to...
This vinegar of Italian origin is loaded with goodness that benefits your health in more ways than one. It is used as a tonic to provide effective relief from ailments such as indigestion and heartburn. It is low in calories and has no fat content; and is the perfect condiment for marinades, glazes and salad dressings.
1. High Polyphenolic Content
According to research, this vinegar contains certain compounds that may have curative properties. For instance, studies have found that it is rich in antioxidant plant compounds known as polyphenols. These compounds, when ingested, have been found to help in abating atherosclerosis-associated oxidative damage to blood lipids.
2. Rich In Melanoidins
Balsamic vinegar also contains melanoidins. These substances give the vinegar its rich dark color and viscosity. According to research, melanoidins may have antioxidant properties and help in the prevention of oxidative damage that is connected to meat digestion . Therefore, the next time you eat a dish with meat, say a turkey sandwich, you should consider getting a salad that has a dressing made with balsamic vinegar.
3. High Acetic Acid Content
Balsamic vinegar contains a high amount of acetic acid. According to research, this acid, which is also present in other types of vinegar, may have some excellent health benefits. In a study that was published in 2006, it was found that acetic acid played a role in lowering triacylglycerols and serum cholesterol in rats that were fed a diet rich in cholesterol . This indicated that the consumption of vinegar might have positive effects on the cholesterol levels in humans. In another study conducted on diabetes, it was concluded that acetic acid administration through the ingestion of vinegar improved insulin sensitivity in people suffering from diabetes.
As you can see, balsamic vinegar and others have excellent health benefits. It should definitely be made a part of your daily diet. Add it to your favorite salads, desserts, cocktails, etc. You can also use it to glaze meat before you put it on the grill. There is so much that you can do with this delicious and healthy vinegar!
What are some of the health benifits of Balsamic?
Answer credited to...
Here are the wonderful health benefits that you can gain by including balsamic vinegar in your diet:
1. Fights Cancer
Quercetin is found in the grapes that are used in making balsamic vinegar. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that has antioxidant properties. It contains Vitamin C as well, and its antioxidant action helps in strengthening your immune system. This means that your body will be able to fight inflammation, infections and even life-threatening diseases like cancer.
2. Lowers Risk Of Heart Attacks
Balsamic vinegar has low levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. This means that it does not cause harm to your heart. By using dressings that have this vinegar, instead of those with high cholesterol levels, you make sure that your heart stays healthy as unwanted fats will not get deposited in your blood vessels. The sodium content in balsamic vinegar is also very low, which means that blood pressure is lowered, and the risk of heart attacks is reduced.
3. Promotes Digestion
The polyphenols in balsamic vinegar stimulate the activity of pepsin enzymes in your body. These digestive enzymes help proteins break down into amino acids. They also help your intestines absorb amino acids. When these acids are efficiently absorbed, it becomes easier for your body to build, repair and utilize cells.
4. Boosts Bone Health
The pepsin and acetic acid in balsamic vinegar help in improving the body’s ability to absorb essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals play an important role in the development of strong and healthy bones. Balsamic vinegar is rich in both these minerals.
5. Relieves Pain
Balsamic vinegar has been used as a medicine to provide relief from different types of pain since ancient times. It is still commonly used as an effective remedy for migraines and headaches. Since it has antibacterial and antiviral properties, it can also be used to treat wounds and infections.
What can I use balsamic for?
Balsamic vinegar adds a zing to almost any dish. Your imagination is the only limit.
Here are some favorite uses:
Cocktails and Mocktails
Add flavored balsamic vinegar, like our Pineapple Balsamic, to sparkling water for a refreshing twist.
Try our Peach Balsamic in your favorite iced tea.
Lemon Balsamic is the perfect secret ingredient to a martini!
There’s nothing like warm, crusty bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
For a delicious twist, try our Lemon Olive Oil with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar.
Add balsamic to your homemade jam for an unexpected flavor!
Make a simple reduction for glazing meat.
Some of favorite combinations are: Lemon Balsamic glaze over fish, Blackberry Balsamic glaze over turkey, and Peach Balsamic glaze over pork.
Strawberry Balsamic over angel food cake is fabulous!
Flavored balsamic, like peach or lemon, over ice cream is also a favorite.
Mandarin Balsamic adds a burst of flavor to any smoothie!
Add Pomegranate Balsamic to a green salad, Mandarin Balsamic to a watermelon salad, or Peach Balsamic to a tomato salad. The possibilities are endless.
Make a Shrub
A shrub is a fruit syrup preserved with vinegar.
Use Strawberry Balsamic to make a homemade shrub. Mix it with water or alcohol for a tangy, refreshing drink.
Over fresh fruit
Peach Balsamic is wonderful over fresh berries.
Marinade chicken in our Mandarin Balsamic, grill, and add it to your salad. Fabulous!
Drizzle balsamic over your veggies. No boring brussels here!
Pineapple Balsamic is to die for over a Hawaiian-style pizza!
Try adding our Pomegranate Balsamic to your favorite steak sauce.
Black Cherry Balsamic, or any delicious taste, really, over plain yogurt, as a snack or breakfast.
Let your imagination run wild!
Do you refill my bottles?
We absolutly do offer a refill service for a discount!
Just bring your bottles back to us clean and dry and we will refill the 60mL bottles for a $.50 discount, and we will refill the 200mL and 375mL bottles for a $1.50 discount.
We are only able to fill those sizes and bottles must be clean and dry and be from our store, or another Veronica Foods supplied bottle of the same size, color, and shape.
How do I clean my bottles for a refill?
We do not recomend putting them in the dishwasher as the organic ink will not last long and dishwashers tend to contaminate the bottles with sediment that does not get rinsed back out of the bottle.
A drop or two of dish liquid and very hot water is all that is needed. Give it a few good shakes and then rinse with hot water until clean, then air dry upside down.
Do I need an appointment for a tasting?
We are a "Try Before You Buy" Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Fusti Bar so you can come in anytime during our open hours and sample all of our UP Olive Oils and Gourmet Italian Balsamics for FREE!
If you would like to have the store to yourself or your group for a private tasting or private event hosted in our store with or without chairs, tables, decorations, or food items, then you will need to email or call to set up a date and time for your private event and tasting. For more information on private tastings and events, check out our link under events and let us know how we can help make your time special.
How do I find the store?
From Harrisonburg or Massanutten Resort...
Take Rt. 33 East to Elkton,
Pass by Foodlion and cross the river,
Take your next right exit onto Rt. 340 North,
Come to the 2nd stoplight and turn left,
Park immediatly on the right, as we are the 2nd brick building in with bright green planters out front and signs on our building...
See you soon!