Frequently Asked Questions
What does extra virgin mean?
Extra virgin is the highest quality olive oil classification. Extra virgin olive oil should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives.
In chemical terms, extra virgin olive oil is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F or 27°C).
In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council. The olive oil must be found to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitiness.Hide
What should I look for in extra virgin olive oil?
Since extra virgin olive oil is simply pressed fruit juice without additives, the factors influencing its quality and taste include the varieties of olives used, the terroir and the countless decisions, production practices and the dedication of the olive farmer and the olive miller. Different regions prefer different flavor profiles in their extra virgin olive oils, which means that there are a wide variety of styles to choose from.Hide
How can I be sure that the oil I'm buying is actually extra virgin?
Pascarosa Organic Extra Virgin Oil is required to undergo a series of chemical tests to ensure its organic certification, which is noted in the seal found on each bottle. These tests can be found here.
Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also tested at the same laboratory in Monopoli, Puglia, and the results of its acidity testing are here.Hide
What’s so special about organic extra virgin olive oil?
The organic certification process in Italy is complicated and time-consuming, requiring years of review and testing before an olive grove is granted the coveted organic designation. The process is coordinated through the European Union, which ensures that the rigorous standards are required for all member nations. Why is this important? You can be sure that you are getting an olive oil that is made from Italian olives that are free from chemicals and other additives since every harvest is tested extensively to maintain this standard.
Certified organic extra virgin olive oil also means that the olive farmer is invested in maintaining the biodiversity of this ancient land, continuing the tradition passed down from through the generations that ensures fruitful harvests and healthy families for centuries to come.Hide
How long does olive oil keep and what causes it to go bad?
Olive oil may keep up to two years but it is usually best when used within 18 months. We label every tin of Pascarosa olive oil so you’ll know the date the olives were harvested and the date by which the oil should be consumed. The biggest problem will be keeping it around that long! Store olive oil in a cool, dark place in tightly sealed containers. Air, light, heat and age are the factors that cause it to degrade, but our tin packaging will help inhibit this process. The rest is up to you.Hide
Why do you package Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil in tins instead of bottles?
We feel very strongly about this one. Some highly rated olive oils come in clear glass bottles, but we couldn’t recommend them. Clear glass allows light to affect the olive oil, accelerating its aging process. Dark green glass is better, but tins are best because they block all light intrusion. And tins are more environmentally friendly since they weigh less to ship, are made from partially recycled metal and can be recycled again when you’re finished with your oil. We think our tins are pretty great looking, too, so you could use them to hold pencils, herbs or whatever strikes your fancy.Hide
Why do different extra virgin olive oils have such different flavors?
The two main elements in determining how an extra virgin oil taste are the cultivars (or varieties) of olives used in the blend and when they were picked. Other factors play a part, too, including the amount of rainfall, the number of exceptionally hot days and when those climatic events took place (early or late in the season).
At Pascarosa, we favor the style that emphasizes the fruttato (fruity, olive-y aromas that emanate from the oil when you breath it in). This style also balances the other two positive characteristics found in great olive oils, the amaro (bitter) and piccante (pungency) elements. In particular, that peppery note at the back of your throat ensures that the olive oil is rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to inhibit hyperglycemia and oxidative stress caused by diabetes. Phytochemicals are also credited with impeding the growth of tumors, stimulating the immune system and offering anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits, too.
Some olive cultivars exhibit this style more than others, so we like to blend several cultivars. This year’s Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from Coratina, Leccino Cerasuola, Cima di Mefli, Ogliarola, Frantoiana and Nocellara di Belice olives. Our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a blend of Coratina, Toscanina, Leccino and Cerasuola cultivars. To achieve the Pascarosa style, the olives are picked early in the season, even though eventual oil yields are much lower as a result. Olives are picked by hand, with nets spread below the trees to catch any wayward olives as they fall. The olives are taken to the olive mill within 24 hours of harvest in small containers to avoid crushing. All of these measures in the grove-coupled with careful, low temperature milling-ensure exquisite olive oil.Hide
Is there a special way to taste olive oil?
Although we love eating artisanal bread dripping in extra virgin olive oil, the best way to discover each oil’s own unique flavor profile is to taste it the way the professionals do. Here’s what to do:
• Pour a small amount of oil into a small colored glass. Experts use small, tinted glasses so they won’t be tempted to judge the oil by its color, considering the visual aspect of the oil to play a minor role in its quality.
• Start with an aroma analysis. o Take a small cup of oil, cover it with one hand and warm it up in the palm of your other hand. o Remove your hand covering the cup and bring the cup to the base of your nose. Inhale three separate times, with pauses in between to keep olfactory sensory neurons alert. Try to memorize the aromas you experienced during the quick inhalations.
• Move on to the flavor analysis
• Put a small amount of oil (8 to 10 drops) in your mouth and let them warm up for a minute or two, so that the volatile compounds evaporate.
• Begin inhaling or “sipping” air in quick, decisive gasps, being careful not to swallow the oil. This technique helps to oxygenize the oil and intensify the aromas. You’ll know you’re doing it right when other people stop and stare at you.
• Roll the oil around in your mouth until it has covered all of your taste buds. Thanks to the simultaneous heating, oxygenation and rotating, the good and bad qualities of the oil are revealed.
• By this point, the oil should be distributed throughout your oral cavity and in particular across your tongue, from the tip, to the sides, to the back.
• It is important to remember the flavors you experience and in which order. Be sure to consider the tactile characteristics that describe the fluidity, the consistency and the flavor elements, which can be described as sensations of sweet, bitter, and spicy.
• Was the oil grassy? Did you notice the aroma or taste of artichokes? Was it fruity? Did you experience a peppery bite at the back of your throat? All of these are characteristics of good olive oil.
• To learn more, visit the Olive Oil Source
. Organize a tasting party with friends and include a grocery store brand that cost less than $8 for a liter bottle. Then conduct a blind tasting by hiding the names and origins of the olive oils you taste. Like wine tasting, this is a great way to learn more about what makes a great olive oil.Hide
Why do some olive oils cost more than others?
True extra virgin olive oil requires considerably more labor to produce than lesser grades like virgin olive oil or pomace oil, which is the result of a second pressing of the olive paste. To achieve an exceptionally low level of acidity, olives must be handpicked and processed the same day. The more flavorful the oil, the earlier the olives were picked, which means their yields are quite a bit lower than olives picked later in the season.
Finally, inexpensive olive oil is unlikely to be olive oil at all. In his book Extra-Virginity
, Tom Mueller addresses the widespread practice of adulterating olive oil with cheap seed and other oils, then chemically altering the mixture to provide the aroma and color associated with extra virgin olive oil. These oils often end up on grocery shelves labeled “Product of Italy,” which only means that the oil was processed in some way in Italy. In reality, most of this oil comes from North Africa and has undergone significant chemical manipulation before it ends up in your shopping cart. Pascarosa extra virgin olive oil is made in Italy from Italian olives grown by small farmers in the Valle d’Itria of Puglia. It is handpicked and cold-processed in small quantities in a family-owned mill. Yields are low and the resulting quantity of olive oil is limited. And it is the best extra virgin olive oil you’ll ever taste. Hide
About the Pascarosa Club
What do I get when I become a Pascarosa Club member?
First of all, you will receive four shipments of the best olive oil you’ve ever tasted. Each shipment will contain two, 500 ml tins of olive oil; one organic and one sustainably farmed. On our website, we will provide you with information about the farmers, the olive groves, the mill and some terrific recipes to show off your amazing olive oil. It’s easy. Sign up for the Pascarosa Club
, and then don’t think about it again until you start receiving your quarterly shipments. The hard part is making it last until the next installment arrives, but you can always order more using your Pascarosa Club discount of 15% on every purchase. Hide
Can I give a Pascarosa Club membership as a gift?
Absolutely! It’s a great idea and your recipient will be thrilled. When filling out the club membership form, you’ll see a section that asks if the membership is a gift. Just let us know and we’ll handle the details, including sending your recipient a gift certificate confirmation of enrollment courtesy of you.Hide
What if I need to cancel my membership?
You can cancel at any time, but be sure to let us know at least two weeks before we ship. We will send you a reminder email that a shipment is coming, so you’ll have plenty of time to cancel if you need to. We will continue to let you know what we’re up to via email unless you ask us not to share.Hide
When will my shipments come?
Pascarosa ships your oil four times a year, usually in March, June, September and December. We will let you know at least three weeks before you can expect your shipment to arrive.Hide
What is the shipping charge?
For shipping details, visit our shipping policy page
. Shipping and handling costs for club shipments is $10, no matter where you live. We use FedEx Ground and provide shipment-tracking tools to help you anticipate your package’s delivery.Hide
Do you ship anywhere else besides the United States?
We ship to all 50 states; shipping/handling charges are added to the shipment cost depending upon where you are located. We hope to be able to ship to Europe in the near future. We'll keep you posted!Hide
Is it safe to pay with my credit card?
Yes. We use PayPal’s secure online payment transaction protocol that enables us to accept major credit and debit cards and PayPal. PayPal stores and safeguards your card and bank details, enabling you to pay online without entering your sensitive financial information every time you shop. PayPal employs the highest standards of security, including anti-fraud technology, in the business and is the world’s most widely used payment acquirer, processing over $4 billion in payments in 2011.Hide