Product of the Month: Olive Oil
Dr. Moffat’s note: RoseAnne Fischer and I have been interacting for years. I’ve really been getting a kick out of watching her flourish and am so grateful to be able to support her launch of Ruccello Olive Oil. It brings me joy to see people really do something they love and are passionate about.
An Interview with RoseAnne Fischer, Owner of Ruccello Olive Oil
Denice: So, tell us how this all came about RoseAnne.
RoseAnne: At the beginning of 2017, I was searching to find the right business to start that would allow me to work and travel between the US and Italy. I hired a business coach and started evaluating options to determine what would resonate with me and bring value to the world. Butch and I planned a trip to Italy in April 2017 and my coach told me to be open to possibilities and see if something comes my way while we were there.
On the last day of our trip as we were getting ready to go the airport, an acquaintance of ours asked if I wanted to import Olive Oil to the United States. And that is how it all started.
As I researched Olive Oil, it became clear that there were many fraudulent and adulterated Olive Oils on the market. When we buy olive oil at the supermarket, we don’t know for sure if it’s actually Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I wanted to create a business where my customers know that when they buy an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from me, they are getting exactly that – the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made with attention, care and love from my handpicked preferred Olive Oil mills.
Denice: I’ve been getting a kick out of your Facebook posts these last few months with you sharing how your Olive Oil tasting classes have been coming along. You’ve done quite a bit of research and learning prior to your launch. So, what makes your olive oil better than what is in the supermarket?
RoseAnne: Yes I have. I’ve loved every minute of it, too. So, the supermarket can have good Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), but the problem is how do you know for sure? Many of the well-known brands are not truly Extra Virgin Olive Oil. To make a true EVOO, it takes commitment to quality and attention to detail. I have purchased olive oil from Olive Oil manufacturers that have been winning gold metal awards for quality and I have personally tasted and met with each owner.
What I’ve learned is that when you are at the supermarket, you want to check the back of the EVOO bottle to see if there is a harvest date and a “use best by date”. That doesn’t ensure a true EVOO but it does increase your odds at getting a quality product.
Denice: How do you know if Olive Oil is truly Extra Virgin?
RoseAnne: Chemical and sensory analyses are performed on each batch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). There are strict guidelines that manufactures of the EVOO have to follow. In California, those guidelines are the most stringent in the world. The best producers in the world follow the guidelines that California has set.
When you open an EVOO and smell it, it must smell fresh, like freshly cut grass or herbs. When you taste the oil, it also must taste fresh—clean with bitter, pungent and spicy after tones. The intensity of the EVOO will determine how bitter and spicy it is. When olives are harvested green, they produce an intense oil whereas, the riper the olive, the more delicate the oil is. The EVOO should never feel greasy in your mouth or taste stale.
Denice: Gosh, it’s like drinking a fine wine! Who knew! Before we started you were telling me about olive oil defects. How can you tell if an Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) has a defect? Does it have some kind of different flavor or texture?
RoseAnne: Defects can include things like rancidity, mustiness, fusty and winey flavors to name a few. They can be hard to detect, but if you ever smell an olive oil that smells un-fresh, like stale peanuts or smells undesirable, it is not good. Quality oil should smell fresh. When you taste an olive oil, whether alone or with food and it tastes greasy –leaves a heavy feeling in your mouth or tastes “heavy”, it has a defect. It’s so hard to explain. I took an olive oil sommelier class to learn all of the subtleties of the olive oil and I still have a lot to learn and practice. That’s why I want to buy my EVOO from someone I can trust.
Denice: Fusty? What’s that?
RoseAnne: Oh, fusty is when the olives have sat around too long before they’ve been milled. It has a kind of fermented flavor.
Denice: Wow. Well, other than using Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) for salads, how else can it be used, Can you fry or bake with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
RoseAnne: Yes, you can fry in Olive Oil. A quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) has a smoking point of 410 – 420 Fahrenheit. You can also bake with it. Just use 25% less by volume than you would with butter.
I sear steak and chicken in EVOO, I use it to fry tortillas, eggs, and anything and everything else. I hardly ever use any other oil. You can deep-fry in EVOO but it is a little heavy and I don’t deep-fry at home so I haven’t experimented with that.
Denice: What are the health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)? Do the health benefits change when you cook it?
RoseAnne: The polyphenols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) are a powerful antioxidant. Oleocanthal is a natural phenol compound in EVOO acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory. You can tell it’s in good quality olive oil because it gives a kind of peppery flavor taste on the back of your tongue. Researchers have tried to isolate the properties, which are beneficial to us, but when they do, they can’t replicate the healing properties. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil itself, with all of the properties together work synergistically to provide the health benefits. Studies by UC Davis and other universities around the world have shown that EVOO has helped prevent many diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Remind me and I’ll give you a link to that website when we’re done.
The health benefits don’t change when you cook with it because it is mostly monounsaturated fat and that doesn’t change when heated, but the flavor will change. The alcohol and esters will evaporate with the heat and that is what gives EVOO the delicate flavor.
Denice: Why is using Extra Virgin Olive Oil better than other vegetable oils.
RoseAnne: Chemical means are used to create vegetable oils. They force the oil out of seeds. I have a video on my website that describes how canola oil is made. It’s a chemical process. Olive Oil is actually olive oil juice. If you get a quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), you are getting the freshest juice of the olive. But if you see an olive oil bottle that says “pure” or “refined”, those too are made with chemicals in order for the oil to be fit for human consumption.
Denice: Ewwh. So that’s the difference between plain olive oil and extra virgin? I was going to ask that. OK, I’ve heard that storage and handling of oils is important. How do you store it for best freshness? In the fridge? In darkness? Use smaller bottles? Tell us about that.
RoseAnne: Remember that a quality olive oil will have the “harvest date” and “use by date” on it. From there you should keep your EVOO in a dark container in a cool place—52-63 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal. I’ve found that a good EVOO can last longer than 2 years. The antioxidants in the oil help preserve it. But the oil can become degraded after being exposed to light and heat, then the oil will become oxidized and turn rancid.
Denice: So I take it the olive oil they found in some Israeli pottery that was thought to be over 8000 years old probably was rancid then, right? (Laughing) OK, so how much should be purchased at one time assuming you should not stock up so as to keep it fresh?
RoseAnne: Well, yes. Optimally you want it as fresh as possible, but it can last for longer than 2 years, if stored properly. My suggestion is to use it and buy more when you need it. I have 3-4 different EVOO’s open at a time. Each one is used based on my whim of the day. We’ve actually developed a program where you can subscribe and get your EVOO delivered to you every month or two. And, as soon as the new harvest is ready, it’ll be available for my customers.
Denice: Is there a better time of the year to harvest olives or do they grow lots of varieties and mix the oils together?
RoseAnne: Olives are harvested between October and January. The olives in October will be green. They make an intense, bitter and pungent, spicy oil. The later the olives are harvested, the riper they are which produce a delicate olive oil and the yield of oil is larger as well, so it really depends on what type of flavor you’re seeking as to when you want to purchase the freshest oil.
Producers of Olive Oil can create EVOO with mono-varietals (only one species of olive) or they can create blends. Each region of the world has their specific olive species. In Tuscany, Italy, they grow Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolio, Maurino, Moraiolo and Taggiasca. There are over 1500 species of olives in the world!
Denice: What’s so special about the producers you have chosen to sell? I’m always telling people to visit their local farms and get to know their growers. How did you choose the people/farms you wanted to work with?
RoseAnne: I chose producers with a track record of excellent oils. They’ve won gold medals in olive oil competitions around the world and take pride in creating great Extra Virgin Olive Oils. At Ruccello Olive Oil, I like to visit with the growers and taste the individual oils that we present to our clients. We want them to have the best epicurean experience possible and I want my customers to trust me, and the products I offer.
Denice: Well I trust and respect you RoseAnne. I know that whatever you decide to do that you do it with passion and quality which is why I’m interviewing you. You’re top notch. Final question then, what’s the shelf life of Ruccello Olive Oils?
RoseAnne: The oils that I buy to sell are so high in polyphenols and so fresh that it will keep for 18 months to 2 years if kept in the dark bottle and stored in a cool location.
Denice: Thanks for spending the time with me today RoseAnne. I’m going to Join the Grove when we’re done here. I have a sister-in-law from Spain who is really into olive oil. I think I’ll send her some for Christmas.
Ruccello Olive Oil will launch in April, 2018 offering online and subscription sales of the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the best producers around the world. Subscribe here: https://ruccellooliveoil.com/join-the-grove/
Helpful Links and References about Olive Oil:
• Follow Ruccello Olive Oil on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RuccelloOliveOil/
• Check out the Ruccello Olive Oil website: https://ruccellooliveoil.com/
• Olive Oil Times Magazine: https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/faqs/what-is-fusty
• Oldest Olive Oil Discovered: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/oldest-olive-oil-ever-found-its-8000-years-old-180953678/
• Check out https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news for many articles and books written by scientific researchers that have isolated anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in Olive Oil.