New in Our Ethical Pantry: Amphora Nueva Oil and Vinegar
We are thrilled to welcome Amphora Nueva to our Ethical Pantry. We met Claire Bradley and other Amphora Nueva family members nearly six years ago when we took a class on olive oils. A few things stood out from that event that have stayed with us:
- The mass olive oil industry is fraught with bad actors, resulting in rancid, fermented and defective products on shelf, adulterated products that aren't 100% olive oil and other false claims
- Amphora Nueva requires their farms to go from pick to press within 4 hours to ensure the freshest olive oil
- Amphora Nueva tests all their farms' olives and oils for the bad stuff as well as the good stuff, only selecting product that meets their strict criteria
- Amphora Nueva's oils and vinegars taste amazing and have contributed to more delicious meals, dressings, shrub-like drinks and other delicacies that we haven't used any other oils since
The Amphora Nueva family is dedicated to providing Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil (UPEVOO), meeting the most strict criteria, but at accessible pricing so everyone can enjoy. The Ultra Premium standard has as its principal barometers in chemistry and freshness–two variables which can be objectively measured, quantified, and certified.
Amphora Nueva's farms and producers are required to meet stringent criteria, including testing via independent labs, to ensure no molds or toxins for example and also for the good stuff, like polyphenols. They also source olives and olive oils from farms across Spain, Portugal, California, Italy, Chile, Australia, Peru, Argentina, Greece, and Tunisia. This strategy enables them to harvest olives in the Northern and Southern hemispheres in a rotation style, contributing to the freshest oils as possible on the shelf.
When a quality Ultra Premium EVOO is fresh, there is significantly more positive sensory attributes detectable by the palate. As any EVOO ages, it naturally oxidizes losing these positive sensory qualities as well as inheriting defects (fermentation, rancid qualities) as it continues to break down. Authentically fresh olive oil is actually hard to find. Many mass produced olive oils are rancid, having been on shelves so long that the olive oil itself has become defective. How do you know? Check for a waxy smell, like a crayon, putty or even old walnuts. If you must, taste it. Rancid oil tastes stale and fatty. Once you try Amphora Nueva's olive oils, you'll have a new taste language–much like learning what you like about wine, you'll get to know what to look for in a truly fresh, high quality olive oil.
“Our industry is filled with fraud; studies from USDA or UC Davis show anywhere between 70 percent and 85 percent of olive oils are fraudulent,” Claire Bradley of Amphora Nueva stated. “They’re either rotten, adulterated with canola oil or some other type of oil, or they don’t actually meet the legal, chemical requirements for extra virgin olive oil.”
As we did in our class those years ago, taste an off-the-shelf grocery brand along side an Amphora Nueva oil, circulate each in your mouth so that you get the full palate experience. You'll quickly notice the lack of taste and often off or rancid taste of the mass brand. As you taste the Amphora Nueva oil, notice the fresh and spicy aroma and bold taste of their oils. Fresh olive oil will smell like fresh cut vegetables, herbs and grass and taste like spice... not like many mass olive oils which smell or taste like, well, nothing... or stale and fatty in flavor.
We can't end a section on freshness with a word or a few on how to keep your oils fresh at home. Store in a cool, dry place. Not next to or above your stove or oven. Keep out of the sun. Keep in their dark bottle or try one of Julems new olive and vinegar wheel thrown ceramic bottles! We've got you covered!
The Good Stuff
You may know that olive oil is widely considered a super food. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) contains some of the highest amounts of polyphenols and oleocanthals of any plant-based foods.
Inspired by the traditional dietary pattern of some of the countries of the Mediterranean basin, the Mediterranean Diet is characterized by an abundant consumption of olive oil and other plant foods (fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals, nuts and seeds); frequent and moderate intake of wine; moderate consumption of fish, seafood, yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs; and low consumption of red meat, processed meat products and seeds. As antioxidants go, the same kind of compounds you find in blueberries and teas are also found in olive oil. Can we just pour some olive oil on our morning berries and call it breakfast?
Several epidemiological studies have evaluated the effects of a Mediterranean pattern as protective against several diseases associated with chronic low-grade inflammation such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome and cognition disorders.
Polyphenols are micronutrients naturally occurring in certain plant-based foods. Epidemiological studies strongly suggest that long term consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols offer protection against development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
Fruits like grapes, apple, pear, cherries and berries contains up to 200–300 mg polyphenols per 100 grams fresh weight. In olive oil, the content of polyphenols ranges from 50 to 1000 mg/kg. In an article from the biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine, it states that the polyphenol content depends on the agronomic factors, the ripeness of olives, as well as extraction technology, along with storage or packaging processes [29,30,31,32,33].
Amphora Nueva is transparent about the levels of polyphenols in their EVVO–the more polyphenols, the more peppery the oil tastes, which we love. That's because they press green olives at the peak of freshness. We've had oils with polyphenol levels above 600 mg. You kinda want to drink this stuff by the tablespoon for the health benefits!
Research looking at the anti-inflammatory and neuroporetective benefits of oleocanthal, a phenolic compound found in varying concentrations in extra virgin olive oil, indicates that oils high in oleocanthal content just may have the ability to impact various disease states.
The Net Net? It's a pretty good idea to keep more of the Ultra Premium EVOO around!
How it's Made
It takes 80-100 pounds of olives to make one gallon of olive oil! EVOO is cold-pressed, at a temperature lower than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This method crushes the olives into a pulp using only force, rather than heat or chemicals. This is the most natural way to preserve the olive oil, and with the highest health benefits.
Centrifugal force further separates the oil from the olive material, creating the premium EVOO.
If you're like us, you don't put anything in or on your body spiked with chemicals. So we're all-in on the cold-pressed, no-chemical method!
To keep their oil as fresh as possible before it's bottled, Amphora Nueva stores the oils in food-grade stainless steel tanks called fusti. Fusti mitigate the risk of matter and potential bacterial contamination and accumulation.
Aside from Amphora Nueva's ahh-mazing freshly pressed, single varietal Ultra Premium EVOO, they also make Whole Fruit Fused Olive Oil. Can't even tell you how good these are. Whether it's a meyer lemon infusion or our favorite spicy Baklouti green chili infusion, it's the method of infusion called agrumato fusion that makes it so incredibly tasty. Mass producing olive oil companies often tout their seemingly fresh products, but actually use extracts to add flavor to their olive oils. Likely it's the cheap cost and ease of managing the process versus fresh ingredients. But there's no substitute!! Agrumato fusion draws flavor directly from the fresh fruit or produce to give olive oils a wide range of authentic flavors. This is a stronger, more complex, absolutely more natural way to consume infused oils.
“We’re talking about having to get oranges and press them in. It’s a whole different expense, but it makes the flavor really true,” says Claire Bradley of Amphora Nueva.
Both the raw Amphora Nueva oils and the whole fruit infused oils make for fine dining quality finishing oils for all of your recipes. We're currently carrying the Chilean Coratina Oil from the Southern Hemisphere harvest. It's one of the highest in polyphenols, freshest available and is bursting with flavor! We will soon be adding an infusion or two, so stay tuned!
But there's more! Amphora Nueva also makes super high quality and aromatic vinegars. Their Italian Balsamic Vinegars from Modena are verifiably aged up to 18 years (with some, even more) and with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) certification. We can't give enough praise to the Espresso Balsamic Vinegar–it is bold, rich, thick, and so delicious. We're also carrying this bottle in the shop. It's next level for your salads, your caprese appetizers and for making exceptional bar-b-que sauce!
Amphora Nueva's Whole Fruit Fused Vinegars are also next-level. The team do an amazing job coming up with olive oil and vinegar pairings–bold flavors, unusual tastes–that combined, elevate everything. We love using their infused vinegars as shrubs. Mix vinegar with sparkling water for a non-alcoholic and beneficial drink. It's no secret we love a good ginger beer. Mix it with mezcal and we're happy campers. Take that good ginger beer and mix it with Amphora Nueva's Espresso Balsamic Vinegar and you've got a root beer like soda that will make you dance!
Is this enough to convince you to come to our shop in Mill Valley or click over to our online store? All this yum... extracting the maximum benefits and taste from olives and aging and infusing vinegars will make your palate tap dance if we can't get your feet moving! ;)