Olive Oil (19)
As olives ripen their oil content increases. Unripe green olives contain 10-15% oil (by weight) whereas ripe, black olives contain 20-25%. However, the tradeoff for increased oil is a decrease with ripening of some of the very beneficial antioxidant and polyphenolic compounds that olive oil contains. Argoladi is prepared from mostly green olives harvested early in the season – usually late October and November in Greece.
Olive oil is basically a fruit juice and one could equate the sediment in unfiltered olive oil with the pulp commonly found in fresh orange juice. The sediment is made up of small pieces of ground olives and result in freshly pressed olive oil having a cloudy, almost opalescent appearance. Many feel that the sediment contains healthful compounds and that the particulates contribute to the taste. With time, the sediment slowly settles on the bottom of the container, but may be evident when the last of the container is poured. Various methods are employed to filter olive oil. Some of these methods may remove other beneficial compounds from the oil. The sediment in unfiltered olive oil may ferment with time, so filtration may improve shelf life. However, high quality extra virgin olive oils like Argoladi should be consumed relatively quickly (within months).
Total polyphenols, important antioxidant molecules, are 454 mg/kg allowing Argoladi to make the health claim that “Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress.”
Acidity or free fatty acid level is a measure of oil quality and Argoladi’s value of 0.24% is far below the limit of 0.80% set by the International Olive Council or the 0.5% limit set by the California Olive Oil Council. Most of the fatty acids in olive oil are part of compounds called triglycerides. When these compounds are degraded free fatty acids are released. Some this occurs as the olives ripen, but most free fatty acids are produced during the milling process. Acidity is minimized by processing the olives as soon as possible after harvest and then by quickly separating the oil from the vegetation water released during the milling process. Oils with a low acidity level usually have greater longevity.
The peroxide value of Argoladi is 8 and is well below the extra virgin olive oil cutoff value of 20. Oxidation of free fatty acids can result in the production of peroxides. These are unstable compounds and they can give rise to substances that can adversely affect the odor and taste of olive oil and cause the oil to become rancid. Some oxidation can also result from the effects of light on olive oil that is improperly stored.
The other parameters, K270 (Argoladi – 0.10; normal limit 0.22), K232 (Argoladi – 1.74; normal limit 2.5), and DK (Argoladi – 0; normal limit 0.01) refer to the absorption of ultraviolet light at specific wavelengths. All indicate that very low levels of oxidation products are present in the oil and confirm its freshness and high quality. These tests correlate with the degree of oxidation of the oil and the presence of some oxidized compounds in the oil and lower values indicate a higher quality oil.
The term “virgin” refers to an oil was produced by the use of mechanical means only, with no chemical treatment. In order to be called “extra virgin” the oil must be of high quality, have no more than 0.8% acidity, and have a superior taste including some fruitiness and it must be free of defined sensory defects such as rancidity or moldy taste. These are the criteria established in the International Olive Council (IOC). Oil meeting these standards includes less than 10% of the oil produced. These percentages are significantly higher in the Mediterranean countries.
Argoladi has a beautiful green color that we would love to show off in a clear glass container. However, light is the enemy of olive oil and will break down many of the beneficial compounds in olive oil. A tinted glass bottle will protect the oil to some degree, but storage in the dark is optimal. By packaging Argoladi in a can, we are protecting it from the damaging effects of light and helping our customers maintain its high quality regardless of where it is stored.
Cold extraction means that the temperature is controlled during the milling process. Although added heat might allow a greater oil yield, the chemical composition of the olive oil may be altered resulting in a lower quality oil.
Argoladi (pronounced ar-go-lá-thi) is produced in a region of Greece called Argolida and the first part of our name – Argo – is derived from this. Argolida is a sunny, semi-arid region several hours southwest of Athens on the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. In fact, one of the olive cultivars used in our blend, the Manaki olive, is primarily found in Argolida. The second part of our name – ladi – is the Greek word for oil.
Argoladi is made from a blend of Koroneiki and Manaki olives, picked at the optimal times and mixed after pressing. The Koroneiki cultivar is widely used in Greece and more recently has been established in California. The Manaki cultivar is mainly found in the Argolida region of Greece. The limited distribution of the Manaki olive makes Argoladi one of a handful of Greek olive oils that have this unique blend.
The Manaki olive is known to produce an oil of exceptional quality. Its oil has a low acidity and is rich in polyphenols and other antioxidants and has a rich taste. However, its yields are often lower than other olives so it has not been developed commercially as some other cultivars have. Koroneiki olives are small but produce high yields of a well-regarded golden green oil that has a robust flavor and a high content of polyphenols. The blend of Manaki and Koroneiki olives used to produce Argoladi offers the best of both.
Our logo is an olive leaf motif derived from the ideogram for olives in the Linear B tablets of the Mycenaean period (14th – 12th century BC). Linear B, the oldest known Greek dialect, was adapted from Linear A, which was used by the Minoans and is still not completely deciphered. Linear B appears to have been used primarily for record keeping and consists of 87 syllabic signs and more than 100 ideograms, which represent objects or commodities, including the one for olives that we adapted for our logo.
Ripe black olives contain high amounts of oil, often yielding 20-25% by weight. However, their content of polyphenols and antioxidants, some of the very beneficial components of olive oil are lower than that coming from green olives. The unripe green olives only yield 10-15% oil, but that oil has a much richer flavor and contains higher amounts of the compounds that are responsible for the healthy effects of olive oil.
The olive fly is a type of fruit fly whose larvae feed on olives. The female lays a single egg within each olive. After the egg hatches and the larva begins to mature it feeds on the olive fruit. The infested fruit can produce an oil with higher acidity and more peroxides. This fruit is also more susceptible to the growth of mold, potentially resulting in an oil with a moldy taste. In addition, the infestation can cause fruit to drop prematurely from the trees resulting in a reduced crop size. 2014 has been a particularly bad year for olive flies in Spain and Italy, resulting in significantly reduced oil production. Greece has not been affected this year.
Olive trees are very drought resistant and do not require much water. However, it is important to have adequate moisture (either by rainfall or irrigation) during the period when the olive trees flower and the flowers are pollinated. As the olives mature less water is required and trees that are irrigated will tend to have olives with a lower relative oil content.
Argoladi has been certified organic by Cosmocert.
Kranidi is located in the Argolida region of the Peloponnese, approximately 200 km southwest of Athens International Airport.
Argoladi is produced from green olives so somewhere between 12 and 15 kilograms of olives (26-33 pounds) are needed to make a kilogram (approximately a quart) of Argoladi. If ripe olives are used, there is a greater yield of oil, but the oil has a lower quality than that obtained from green olives.
The properties of the Vlachopoulos family, the producers of Argoladi cover 75 acres in the area of Kranidi, Greece and contain more than 2000 trees.
The olives are all picked by hand from each tree. Comb-like tools, some with long extensions for the higher branches are used for this process and the falling olives are captured in nets spread under the trees. As olives ripen, they begin to drop from the trees. In some areas, nets are spread beneath the trees and the olives harvested as they accumulate in the nets. The olives that make Argoladi go from the tree to the olive press in a matter of hours, ensuring its freshness.
The olives in this year’s batch of Argoladi were harvested and pressed in early November.
Many of the large olive oil producers receive truckloads or boatloads of olives at their mills. Buying and processing the olives in large quantities lowers production costs, but results in olive oil that has a lower quality than Argoladi. The attention to detail throughout the production process and prompt and careful processing increases our costs, but result in a high quality extra virgin olive oil.