Extra Virgin Olive Oil ~ Australians Love It, but Do We Have Any Taste?

Australians love their olive oil — we went through 40,000 tonnes of the green, yellowy liquid last year.
It is a staple in kitchens around the country, but do we really know what quality olive oil tastes like?
Victorian olive grower Peter Eicher thinks Australians need to be re-educated about how fresh olive oil should excite our taste buds.
Mr Eicher, who came to Australia from Switzerland and now grows olives in northern Victoria, said much of the imported extra virgin oil Australians love was produced by European growers opting for quantity over quality in order to get maximum return for less effort.
He said there were a few things to look for in a fresh-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
"The fresh flavours, the slight bitterness in the front end, which is really important because that's the shelf life, that's the polyphenols and that's the antioxidants."
The Easiest Way to Make Olive Oil

Mr Eicher said he had never even tried extra virgin olive oil before he came to Australia from Switzerland.

He said extra virgin olive oil had been slow to catch on in in his former country.

He and and his wife Marlies grow three varieties of olive — frantoio, manzanillo and kalamata — in northern Victoria, having established their olive grove of 2,100 trees in 2000.

To keep their business profitable, the Eichers do everything themselves — from processing the olive oil, to packaging the olives and distributing their product to stores and restaurants.

"Once you start putting these different businesses together, it becomes a very sustainable business," Mr Eicher said.

The International Olive Oil Council estimated that Australia went through 40,000 tonnes of olive oil last year, compared to Switzerland's 8,000 tonnes.

"Most small growers in Europe, they don't look at it from a quality point of view, they look for the easiest way to make the oil,'' Mr Eicher said.

''A small producer would not harvest the olive at the right time of the season because they are very hard to get off." More