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Have you ever felt strong bitter and spicy sensations when tasting extra virgin olive oil? Have you ever wondered what they are due to and what they entail?
These are questions that as consumers we frequently ask ourselves when we taste an oil for the first time. Here is an article that could give some explanations.
We are often led to identify these feelings as negative attributes that make extra virgin olive oil less pleasant to the palate and, consequently, we are led to believe that it is a poor quality oil. Actually, those bitter and spicy sensations are two of the most important parameters used to identify a good quality extra virgin olive oil. In an excellent quality EVO oil, these sensations will be perfectly balanced and accompanied by pleasant fruity notes.
But why do we feel these sensations?

Why is it bitter and spicy?

Many mistakenly believe that strong and bitter sensations are oil defects,but instead, it is a peculiar trait that certifies its freshness and good quality. In fact, a good EVO oil, especially if newly squeezed, has an intense and robust flavor that can be more or less accentuated depending on the percentage of polyphenols it contains. In fact, polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that retard the oxidation of the oil and therefore its aging, allowing the consumption and preservation of the flavors even after months from its pressing. Instead, the absence of bitter and spicy tones could be a symptom of an old oil or that has prematurely oxidized due to inadequate processing techniques or to a non-optimal conservation.

The minor or greater perception of bitter and spicy tones is also due to the type of cultivar from which the oil is extracted. Coratina, for example a cultivar renowned for the high presence of polyphenols, gives strong spicy and bitter sensations to the oils derived from it.

Moreover, in the past, producers used to carry out the harvest when the olives were
completely ripe and they would let pass several days before grinding them. In doing so, the oil they produced presented an already advanced state of oxidation and therefore it tended to give none or only slightly bitter and spicy sensations. Today, however, in the light of new product tests, it was shown that oils derived from green / brownish olives and promptly processed within 12 to 24 hours, has higher nutritional qualities even if it has a stronger aromas.

Therefore, being aware of the latest researches and willing to offer a good product which is itself guarantee of excellent quality, our company is able to offer an EVO oil with fresh and pleasant aromas. Thanks to an optimized storage system, it is able to offer a fresh oil, as if it had been just pressed, even months after the end of the campaign.

Bitter and spicy: is it good or bad?

These very peculiar notes of the EVO oil undoubtedly report remarkable health benefits. In addition to preserving oil from oxidation, polyphenols, including oleuropein, also have a strong antioxidant function on our body. Oleuropein, in fact, delays cellular aging, reduces the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood (LDL), increases the levels of positive cholesterol
(HDL) and prevents the formation of free radicals. Furthermore, some studies published by the University of Bologna and the Institute of Pharmacological Sciences in Milan have shown that oleuropein contributes to the release of nitric oxide which in our body has the very important function of neurotransmitter and vasodilator, offering significant benefits for the cellular maintenance.

Of course getting used to bitter and spicy tones is not easy but learning to reduce the amount of extra virgin used to flavor our dishes could help to gradually get accustomed to slightly stronger flavors. For this reason, in order to meet all tastes, our company decided to create a medium fruity blend with less marked bitter and spicy tones as well as another one whose taste is more intense with more accentuated bitter and spicy tones where the coratina cultivar acts as queen.

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