OUTSTANDING QUALITY

Award winning oil in SA

Outstanding quality
Award winning olive oil

Rio Largo Premium Blend, Rio Largo Gold, Groote Vallei, Morgenster and Willow Creek Estate Blend extra virgin all won the Absa Top 5 Olive Oil Awards for outstanding quality.

Faced with the bewildering selection on offer in supermarkets, most consumers shop on price, and European brands sometimes beat boutique local labels.

However, there's more to local oil than you might think. Extra virgin olive oil is at the top of the quality tree. To carry the classification, producers pass laboratory tests and sensory evaluation by expert panels.

Extra virgin olive oil is consumed in its natural state, without refining. Unlike cheaper, commercial sunflower and canola oils, cold-pressed, unrefined oils are healthier. Olive oil has a maximum shelf life of 18 months, so it deteriorates once the contents of the bottle are exposed to air. Store olive oil in airtight, dark glass bottles.

The "Oscars" of the olive industry globally is the Sol d'Oro olive oil competition, traditionally held in Italy in February. Different harvesting seasons mean South African oils are typically not at their prime for northern hemisphere competition dates.

This month the competition was held in the southern hemisphere for the first time - at L'Orciolo d'Oro in Chile - and Nuy Valley's Willow Creek Estate Blend won "best of class".

Accolades aside, olive oil contains high levels of healthier monounsaturated fatty acids, far more than most cooking oils. Olive oil is also more heat stable than polyunsaturated seed oils, and can safely be reused five times for frying.

If in doubt about what you're purchasing, the seal on South Africa's 300 olive grower members' bottles indicates the year of harvest and compliance with South African Olive Industry Association regulations.

You can be sure that what the label says is what's inside the bottle.

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