Most people understand that there is a difference between the various types of olive oils available on UK shelves, but few really appreciate how much variation in taste and quality there can be. Candiasoil believe part of this is down to the large number of low quality blended oils on shop shelves, but hope the launch of Oi1 will help change this and give us a better understanding of just how good olive oil can be.

Olive oils produced from a single variety of olive, from individual farms, produce oils with the most character and best flavours. We’re familiar with this concept for grapes and wine, but exactly the same is true of olive oils. Most oils available in the UK are blends, as it is more economical for companies to pick and choose olives from farms with big harvests, but blending loses character. For Oi1 oils, only a single variety of olive, grown on small local farms in Crete, are used and it is clear from the two oils in the Oi1 range just how much difference, when using a single oil variety rather than a blend, olive grove location can make to the taste of the final oil…

Oi1 Peza is produced from Koroneiki olives grown in the green, fertile region of Peza in central Crete. The oil is a smooth and slightly fruity extra virgin olive oil ideal for drizzling over cooked red meat, vegetables and homemade dressings.

Oi1 Viannos is also produced from Koroneiki olives, but these are grown in the mountainous and costal region of Viannos in southern Crete, which gives this extra virgin olive oil a more robust, fruity, peppery taste, great for drizzling over Mediterranean salads and pasta or for dipping breads.

The Oi1 oils carry a PDO – ‘protected designation of origin’ – stamp; this means that the oils have been picked out for specific high quality sensory characteristics, such as taste and aroma. Crete is not only the birthplace of olive oil, as the climate and soil is perfect for growing olives, but it remains unspoilt by heavy industry meaning the taste of the olives is unspoilt by pollution and this shows in the Oi1 flavours.

Oi1 oils are genuine extra virgin olive oils. The term ‘virgin’ means that the oil has been produced from a mechanical pressing process, rather than one involving chemicals, and produces an unspoilt oil with more integrity. The ‘extra’ before the virgin means that the oil has been judged to have a better taste, with some fruitiness and no sensory defects. It is also a measure of acidity and to be labelled ‘extra virgin’ an oil must have less than 0.8% acidity (straight virgin oil can have an acidity of around double this).

Sunlight and oxygen can ruin the quality, taste and health benefits of olive oil by breaking down some of its beneficial natural chemicals. Oi1 oils come in specially designed tins to prevent sunlight reaching the oil and cut down on oxygen contact. The tins also have special internal coatings to best preserve the oil and keep it tasting fresh.

If you’d like to discover the difference between an ok olive oil and a superb olive oil, Oi1 oils are now available in Tesco stores nationwide and cost £6.50 for a 500ml bottle.

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