Olive Oil FAQs

Health Benefits

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Why is extra virgin olive oil healthier than other oils/fats?

Being the 100% natural juice of the olive fruit is what makes virgin olive oil different from other oils/fats. Extra virgin olive oil is obtained exclusively through mechanical or other physical means that do not alter the oil in any way. It is oil that has not been treated in any way except for washing, centrifugation, decanting, and filtering. Seed / vegetable oil from sources such as canola, sunflower, soy, corn goes through refining processes before it is fit for human consumption. Edible oil refining typically uses high heat, deodorizers, and food-grade solvents.

What makes extra virgin olive oil healthy?

Virgin olive oil is made up of a majority of monounsaturated fats (oleic acid mostly), which are "good fats" that have been associated with preventing cardiovascular disease, supporting increase of good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol. True extra virgin olive oil is loaded with healthy polyphenols that are responsible for antioxidant activity. An example is a phenol called oleocanthal, which has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, these polyphenols give extra virgin olive oil its unique flavor profiles while naturally stabilizing it, enhancing product shelf-life. Note: refined olive oil is lacking in these polyphenols as they are destroyed during the refining process.

Is there an optimal amount of extra virgin olive oil to consume?

We believe that meal compositions including the amount of oil should be tailored to the individual’s circumstances and objectives. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the landmark study PREDIMED has shown a Mediterranean diet rich with vegetables, fresh fruit, legumes, and fatty fish, supplemented with 4 tablespoons daily of extra virgin olive oil, reduced incidences of cardiovascular diseases by 30% when compared to a control group on a low-fat diet. As with any health-related matters or dietary changes, you should consult with your own doctor.

Is it better to consume extra virgin olive oil raw?

While extra virgin olive oil is best taken raw to enjoy maximum health benefits and its wide-ranging aroma and tastes, replacing other cooking oils/fats with extra virgin olive oil is a good way to ensure your overall oils/fats consumption are from healthier sources.

Cooking / Culinary

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Is it safe to cook with extra virgin olive oil?

Yes, it is. Good quality extra virgin olive oil has a relatively high smoke point of between 190˚C and 210˚C owing to its high monounsaturated fats composition. Most heat-applied cooking methods should be done at less than 180˚C. As with any oils and fats, it is important not to overheat them beyond their smoke points, when they burn and produce harmful carcinogenic compounds.

Can I fry with extra virgin olive oil?

Yes, you can. Frying with olive oil is one of the oldest methods of cooking especially in the Mediterranean region. It can be said that extra virgin olive oil is ideal for frying as it does not undergo substantial changes when heated and retains its nutritional value better than other oils. Furthermore, frying with olive oil forms a tasty surface crust that prevents oils from penetrating the food item, making it the “lightest” way of frying with oil.

For further information about frying with olive oil, visit https://www.internationaloliveoil.org/olive-world/olive-oil/#frying

What is olive oil matching?

Olive oil matching is a culinary discipline of pairing complementary olive oils with food. Extra virgin olive oils have a wide-ranging spectrum of fruity aromas, intensity of bitterness, and pepperiness. The right extra virgin olive oil can enhance the dish in each course from soups through desserts. Additionally, extra virgin olive oil infused with high-quality natural ingredients like porcini mushroom, lemon rind, smoked paprika, and a myriad of other options. work marvelously as marinades. Check out our Dip, Drizzle and Dare! section for recipes.

Is extra virgin olive oil suitable for Asian cooking?

Absolutely! Depending on your ingredients and cooking methods, there can be a matching EVOO or infused olive oil profile. For example, the Olivo Estate with its well-structured and grassy notes is versatile in wok-fried vegetables or fish dishes while the Olivo Porcini adds an elegant umami twist to your tofu marinades. Check out our Dip, Drizzle and Dare! section for recipes.

New Zealand Olive Oil

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Is the climate in New Zealand conducive to growing olives?

We get asked this question often and the answer is absolutely yes! It is likely you have enjoyed a glass or two of delicious wines from New Zealand and in most parts, the wine-growing climate is ideal for growing olives. In fact, Martinborough where Olivo is located in, is a well-known wine-growing village with more than 20 cellar doors to visit. Visitors and residents alike enjoy exceptional wines and extra virgin olive oil side by side, rivaled only by its natural breathtaking landscapes.

Visit to learn more at https://www.newzealand.com/sg/martinborough

How long has New Zealand been producing olive oil?

The first known olive trees arrived on the shores of New Zealand with early European settlers as far back as 1830. Serious propagation of olive trees started in 1986 with imported cuttings from Israel and Australia. By the 1990’s more than 200,000 trees were planted across the country. In 1996, Olives New Zealand was established to create the environment for the New Zealand Olive industry to produce premium quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and olive products, and to market them successfully nationally and internationally. Based on Olives NZ research, there are now about 400,000 olive trees across New Zealand.

Visit https://www.olivesnz.org.nz/ to learn more.

What are the olive varietals grown in New Zealand?

The varieties planted in New Zealand originate now from all of the main olive growing regions of the world; Italy, Spain, France, Israel, Greece. While the Tuscan varietals of Frantoio and Leccino are most planted, you will find other varieties such as Barnea, Koroneiki, and Manzanillo are widely grown as well. The Barnea varietal has a special place in the recorded history of New Zealand’s olive propagation in all its trials and eventual success. The first cuttings of Barnea were brought in directly from Israel by the pioneering Gidon Blumenfeld and the plant scientist Professor Shimon Lavee who successfully cloned this new olive cultivar in the 1960s.

How is New Zealand olive oil different compared to Italian, Greek or Spanish olive oils?

As with any natural produce, differences in climate and soil conditions where they are grown influence quality and taste attributes. New Zealand’s cool climate produces a distinctly cool-climate oil which could be considered similar to the oils produced in the more traditional, cooler climate olive growing regions like Tuscany. However, unlike the dry stony Mediterranean hillsides where olives are traditionally grown, NZ olives thrive in New Zealand’s green pastureland. This provides a strong, herbaceous, grassy flavor often described as full-bodied and fruity, similar to the world-famous Sauvignon Blancs made from grapes grown in a similar environment. The long hot summers, followed by cool winters, produce abundant, healthy, exceptionally tasty oil.

What makes the Wairarapa region in New Zealand unique?

The maritime climate and soil in the Wairarapa region in the south-eastern corner of the North Island, produce distinctive and complex tasting oils. The Wairarapa olive-growing area is also unique in that while about 14% of New Zealand’s olive trees are grown here, owing to the commitment and passion of the many small-lot growers in this region, numerous award-winning olive oils have been produced. In 2020, Wairarapa olive oil makers swept the annual NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning four of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence.


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Who is Olivo?

Olivo is the oldest commercial olive grove in the Wairarapa. It was planted in 1991 and first started producing award-winning extra virgin olive oil in 2001. Helen and John Meehan bought Olivo in May 2003 and have extended it to 1200 olive trees; the main cultivars are Barnea, Manzanillo, Leccino, Frantoio, and Koroneiki. Their intent is to create innovative and top-quality oils that pair with excellent food and the great wines that Martinborough produces – oils that are boutique, artisan, and gorgeous. Keen to expand the usage of olive oil, inspire experimentation, and position Olivo alongside food trends, they were among the first to offer infused oils including adventurous infusions like fennel, smoked paprika, vanilla, cumin, saffron, and the popular lemon and porcini. Proud to be a boutique, artisan, and 100% New Zealand-owned company based in Martinborough, Wairarapa, they were recently presented the ‘Best Brand Award’ by Olives New Zealand.

Why should I buy Olivo oils?

Olivo is located in Martinborough in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand where its unique maritime climate produces distinctive and complex tasting extra virgin olive oils. In addition to being a grower and producer of some of the best NZ extra virgin olive oils, Olivo’s Helen Meehan has mentored and consulted with numerous olive growers in our small yet dynamic community in Martinborough. For you, this means an assurance of true quality above and beyond labeling authentication. You are buying directly from people who are not only passionate producers but well-respected experts and members of their community who are close to the ground.

What olive oils does Olivo produce?

Olivo offers 3 main labels of extra virgin and a wide range of infused olive oils. The extra virgin olive oils are made with olive varietals (Barnea, Manzanillo, Frantoio, Leccino, Koroneiki) growing on Olivo’s grove and procured from smaller (and well-cared) groves in Martinborough. Olivo also offers a wide range of adventurous infused olive oils.

Where can I buy Olivo oils in Singapore?

In addition to shopping on our website, you can find some Olivo labels at Little Farms grocery stores across Singapore. Feel free to contact us if you do not find something you’d like from Olivo and we’d be more than happy to arrange for you to get them.

How is Olivo related to Olive Oil People?

In addition to being founders of Olive Oil People (a specialty olive oil import, wholesale and e-retail business in Singapore) we own and operate a small olive grove of 380 trees in Martinborough. We have supplied our olive fruit yearly to Olivo since 2015, and we are on Olivo’s tree care regime. To us, Olivo’s Helen and John Meehan are mentors, business partners, and friends. We share their passion for advancing the quality, trade, and appreciation of NZ olive oil.

Taste Profiles

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Why are there taste differences between the various EVOO?

Differences in taste profiles of EVOO are attributed to two main factors – varietals of olives and the ripeness of the olive fruit when it was harvested. As an example of varietal taste differences, Barnea olives tend to smell grassy and citrusy, taste greenly bitter, and not as peppery as Tuscan varietals (Frantoio, Leccino) that tend to have subtler aromas like green almonds and distinctly long peppery finish. Olives are green when they are not ripe and dark brown to almost black when they are ripe. Olives can be picked green, ripe or veraison (mixture of green and ripe). Olives that are picked early in the harvest season produce oils that are “greenly-fruity” reminiscent of leaves, stems, grass, generally more herbaceous and plant-like. Conversely, olives that are picked when they are riper, produce oils that are “ripely-fruity” reminiscent of ripened tomatoes, bananas or fruit compote.

Why does my EVOO taste bitter?

Bitterness in extra virgin olive oil tasting is a positive attribute. The olive fruit in its natural state is bitter and peppery. Healthy EVOO with very high total polyphenol content tend to be more intensely bitter. Varying intensity of bitterness can also tell us the varietal of olives the oil is made of.

Why does my EVOO taste peppery?

Pepperiness in extra virgin olive oil tasting is a positive attribute. Similar to bitterness, intense pepperiness usually indicates high total polyphenol content, making the oil healthier. In fact, oleocanthal the phenol that has anti-inflammatory properties tastes peppery at the back of the throat.

Harvesting / Producing Olive Oil

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How is extra virgin olive oil produced?

Olive fruits are picked by hand, mechanical rakes or tree shakers and are sent to the olive press within 24 hours. At the olive press, the olives are sorted to remove leaves and twigs, washed, crush with pits and all to produce a paste. The paste goes through malaxation, where oil molecules clump together and concentrate. The mixture then goes through centrifugation where the olive oil, water and paste remnants are separated. The olive oil is streamed in a large stainless-steel vat to be filled into olive oil containers called fusti or oil storage bladders to be sent for bottling.

When are olives harvested?

Generally, olive harvest season in New Zealand happens in June, whereas in the northern hemisphere it happens between October to December. There are regional differences.

General Quality / Buying Guide

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How is olive oil graded?

Virgin olive oil may be the only food product that can only be graded when it has gone through both chemical and sensorial analysis, and not just one or the other. Chemical parameters test for things such as level of fermentation, oxidation, purity, and polyphenol content (the healthy good stuff in olive oil). Sensorially, IOC (International Olive Council) certified panel of tasters look for a whole spectrum of sensory parameters. Primarily to look for the presence of fruity aroma and absence of defects. Olive oil can only be graded as virgin when it is fruity.

What standards do olive oil need to meet to be graded as extra virgin?

Although the IOC (International Olive Council) sets global standards for extra virgin olive oil grading, some countries such as New Zealand set stricter standards for certain key chemical parameters that support a constant push for higher quality oil production. Chief among a list of at least eight chemical parameters are Free Fatty Acid (FFA) and Peroxide Value (PV), that test for the extent of fermentation and oxidation respectively. Per the IOC, olive oil can only be graded as Extra Virgin when its FFA content is ≤0.8% and PV is ≤20 meq/kg. Stricter standards in New Zealand require FFA to be ≤0.5% and PV of ≤15 meq/kg. Additionally, IOC-certified panel of tasters must find both the presence of Fruity aroma (>0) and absence of defect (=0). The NZ Olive Mark is given to New Zealand extra virgin olive oils when they pass the test each year. This is a round red sticker or stamp you see on Olivo bottles.

How long can I store extra virgin olive oil?

If unopened, follow the best before date which is usually 2 years or less from date of harvest or pressing, which you should see on your bottle labels too. Once opened, it is advised to finish using the oil within 3 months. However, your storage conditions can determine if the oil tastes good for a longer period. In Singapore where it is hot and humid, wine chiller or cellar conditions are ideal i.e., 15˚-20˚C. If this is not possible, storing in a cool, dark, and dry place would work too.

Would infused olive oils be of lower quality as compared to EVOO?

Olivo infused oils are made from top-quality extra virgin olive oil infused with high-quality natural botanicals and ingredients. The intent of offering infused oils is to expand the usage of extra virgin olive oil alongside food trends.

What does “cold-pressed”, “first-pressed” or “first cold-pressed” mean on a label?

These are largely obsolete terms and are technically redundant as all true extra virgin olive oil today is made from fresh olives centrifuged at low temperatures. You may still find these terms on labels of mass-produced olive oil for marketing purposes. In the specialty extra virgin olive oil sector, these terms are rarely used anymore on labels.

What does early-harvest mean on a label?

Early harvest does not always indicate higher quality when compared to labels that are silent on this point. Rather it is mostly a matter of taste profile and to some extent implies higher total polyphenol content. Olives picked early in the season tend to contain more green fruit which produces oils that are stronger and greener tasting. Olivo oils are always made with a high proportion of greener olive fruit which makes for robust, grassy, and well-structured taste profiles.

What does “light” or “extra light” olive oil mean on a label?

You will not find these terms used by producers and growers of true extra virgin olive oil. The terms usually refer to the absence of stronger flavors of natural virgin olive oil. Mass-produced olive oils that carry these terms are made from blends of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. While some may have higher smoke points for frying, they lack significantly the true health properties of extra virgin oils.

What do labels like “Pure” or “Classic” olive oil mean?

These are largely marketing terms that do not indicate higher quality but rather the varying strength of taste or imply the product is made from 100% olive oil. As long as you do not see the words Extra Virgin or Virgin on the labels, the bottle would contain blends of refined olive oil and virgin (or extra virgin oils) in varying proportions.

What is refined olive oil?

Most commonly, refined olive oil is virgin olive oil (not extra virgin) that has been put through refinery processes to rectify its physical and chemical composition. Although, refined virgin olive oil does have to comply with a standard of no more than 0.3% of free fatty acid, the refinery processes typically using high heat, solvents and deodorizers would have destroyed the oil’s natural polyphenol content.