Yellow or Green Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Which one is Better?
One of the most common questions we get is: which color oil is better, yellow or green?
The simple answer is that Green EVOO is always considered to be the better choice for your health and is usually an indicator that the oil is newer and pressed from greener olives (not over-ripened) and is therefore richer in polyphenols and anti-oxidants and lower in acidity. While green EVOO is better for you, it doesn't mean that yellow EVOO is necessarily bad for you! Let's find out why!
What is the difference between Yellow and Green EVOO?
With over 1000 cultivars of olives worldwide used to produce EVOO, the type of cultivar (black, light green, dark green cultivars) will have a minor impact on the color of the EVOO. However, the main factor that determines the color of the EVOO is at what stage of maturing the olive are harvested and milled. If the olives are harvested from the trees at perfect total combined ripeness, before they all turn a dark purple-black and fall to the ground and are milled in a short period of time (not more than 24 hours from harvest) then the oil will be a vibrant green.
If the olives are harvested by suspending nets below the trees and waiting for the olives to naturally mature and fall into the nets, the oil will be of a yellow hue and the acidity level will be higher and the health benefits will be fewer.
Depending on the geographical location of the olive groves, each farmer will have a different cultivar of olives. Not only that, but each farmer will have his own way of nurturing and harvesting the olives. This includes how the olives are harvested and how they are fertilized! Hence, other minor factors which impact the color of the EVOO can be geographical location, type of soil, watering and fertilizing routines. Also, EVOO is a live substance and as it ages it will lose vibrancy and the color will fade. Hence, a more yellow oil "could" be an indicator that the oil is a few years old.
In our area, Valle del Belice, our most prestigious cultivar is the "Nocellara del Belice". It is a plump olive, larger in size and is spectacularly green! If this olive is left unharvested, it will turn black and eventually fall off the tree. Our tradition, however, is to harvest the olives at it's perfect peak of combined ripeness; just before the majority of the olives turn purple-black. This involves picking the olives from the trees by hand or by rake. The oil from a perfectly ripened Nocellara del Belice olive is a vibrant green. It is very rich in polyphenols and anti-oxidants and low in acidity. When it is freshly milled, the oil will have "bite" (an almost spicy peppery after-taste sensation). As the Extra Virgin Olive Oil ages, the peppery kick and vibrant color subsides.
Personal Taste Preference
Assuming that they are newer, both cold-pressed, raw, unfiltered, single-sourced and pure, both oils can be pleasing to the palate, depending on personal preference.
Yellow EVOO has a tendency to be subtle, mild, smooth, less noticeable likes to blend in with the crowd. A wallflower type of oil, if you will.
Greener EVOO is fiesty, bold and loves attention! You can taste the olives and in the case of our Nocellara del Belice cultivar, even has hints of artichokes and pepper! With green EVOO you can truly taste the different cultivars!
Basically, greener EVOO has a tendency to party, whereas yellow EVOO is more laid back, chilled.
Personally, while I appreciate many other oils (yellow and green), my favourite EVOO is Papa Vince Extra Virgin Olive Oil . Nocellara del Belice is my favorite cultivar because of its unique geographical location, it is exposed to African winds while being protected by the rolling hills. It is one of a kind and 100% Sicilian! The EVOO is green, dense full-bodied and you can taste the olives with hints of artichokes and pepper and has a way of bringing all my dishes to life! I even love it simply on a slice of toasted bread or drizzled on fresh tomatoes! Did I mention it is also insanely good for your health? More to this in later posts!
There are other factors that can help you choose the best quality EVOO for you! Our next post will discuss a true tell-tale sign of good vs. bad EVOO namely: Density!
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