LAKE OCONEE — Recently I had the privilege of crossing paths with one of my favorite college professors, Dr. Larry Jack. Dr. Jack and his wife, Carol, have moved to the area and opened a new store, Plantation Olive Oil, located behind Publix in Lake Oconee Village.
When I first heard of the store, I wondered how it was possible to have an entire business dedicated solely to oil and vinegar. I popped in one day to see what it was all about, and walked away with a much better understanding of the many varieties of olive oil, the multiple flavors of balsamic vinegar, and the numerous ways to use them both.
I asked Dr. Jack to help with this week’s column in order to share some of the facts and health benefits of olive oil with you. And when you stop by the store, be sure to ask for a sample of gelato drizzled with chocolate balsamic. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
We’ve all heard of extra virgin olive oil, aka EVOO. But what exactly is it? According to the International Olive Council (IOC), “extra virgin” is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. In order to receive this classification, the oil must be obtained solely through mechanical means, without the use of solvents, and at temperatures that will not damage the oil. It also must pass both a taste test and lab test.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has not adopted the IOC’s definition of EVOO as a legal standard. That means there is no requirement to inform consumers of important quality freshness indicators. As a result, lesser quality oils may be labeled as “extra virgin,” even though they are not. According to Tom Mueller, author of the book, “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil”, “As much as 69 percent of imported olive oil labeled ‘extra virgin’…isn’t.”