Frequently Asked Questions
What does "Extra Virgin" mean?
"Extra Virgin" is the highest grade an oil may receive. International standards dictate that olive oil meets both chemical and sensory standards to be sold as extra virgin.
The oil’s chemistry, tested in a laboratory, must meet or exceed specific parameters that indicate the careful handling and storage of the olives and oil. No chemicals or extreme heat may be used during the extraction process.
“Extra Virgin” also denotes that the oil is free of defects of flavor or odor. This is evaluated by a trained sensory panel and cannot be detected by laboratory tests.
How is "Extra Virgin" certified?
To gain California Olive Oil Council (COOC) certification, an oil must comply with requirements of both a chemical analysis and a sensory evaluation. COOC member producers must undertake this process following every harvest to ensure their oil meets the criteria to be considered extra virgin grade.
Chemical Analysis Requirements
The oil has an acidity level, in terms of oleic free fatty acid, of not more than 0.5% and a peroxide value of 15 meq O2/kg or less.
Sensory Analysis: The COOC Taste Panel
After proof of an oil’s chemical requirements has been verified, the oil then must undergo a sensory analysis. The COOC Taste Panel samples each oil in a blind settings to ascertain that the oil qualifies as free of defects, an important requirement in achieving extra virgin grade.
All COOC Taste Panel members have undergone intensive training. The panel meets at least twice each month for the dual purpose of screening oils for COOC Certification as well as for continual training.
An oil only qualifies to display the COOC Seal once it has met with both criteria. Seal Certification is a process which is ongoing following every harvest.
What does "Organic Certified" mean?
Certified organic foods are produced according to federal standards set by the USDA National Organic Program. These standards were implemented in 2002 after passage of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and continue to be interpreted and developed by the National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Organic standards address many factors: soil quality, animal raising, pest and weed control, and use of input materials.
Is Pine Mountain Olive Farm certified organic?
Yes. Our farm has been certified organic since 2009, by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). CCOF is a non-profit membership based organic certification and trade association, dedicated to promoting and supporting organic food and agriculture. CCOF provides certification services to all stages of the organic food chain, from farms to processors, restaurants and retailers. CCOF certifies to the USDA National Organic Program standards and CCOF international standards.
Does organic also mean "Non-GMO"?
Yes. GMOs are not allowed in organic production. If a product is certified organic by CCOF, you may be confident it is non-GMO.
How do you harvest the olives?
We pick our olives by hand, usually with a crew of eight to ten family and friends. In a good year we'll need two days to pick all the olives. Each picker wears a picking pail. When full, the pails are poured into lugs which hold about 40 pounds of olives. Full lugs are poured into 1/2 ton bins.
How is the oil extracted from your olives?
We take our oil to an organic-certified facility at McEvoy Farms in Petaluma, CA. The McEvoy milling team uses Rapanelli equipment imported from Italy. The freshly harvested olives are processed by blade mills, and then pass through a Sinolea extractor, where thousands of stainless steel blades delicately extract droplets of oil from the olive paste without heat or pressure. The oil is then passed through centrifuges and transferred to stainless steel tanks without further processing of any kind.
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