Top Australian Producers success with blending olive oils

Fellow producers share their experiences on how they define what they think attributes to a great blended oil:

  • Pukara Estate, NSW

Pukara Estate, in the Upper Hunter Valley, has always blended its popular “Premium” extra virgin olive oil.  Director, Bruce Eglington, said “Single-varietal oils can be interesting but we are looking for consistency in our mainstream oils and we achieve this by blending. For example, our Pukara Estate Premium EVOO is delicate in style. It’s certainly fruity, has a mild pungency and great aroma, but it is not excessively bitter. Our main aim in blending is to produce balanced, harmonious oil, attractive to most palates.”

  • Beaming Hill, WA.

Beaming Hill Estate is situated near Beverley, Western Australia, with 250 acres of predominately oil varieties, Frantoio, Barnea and Nevadillo Blanco. “I believe that the most important factors for blending olive oil which contribute to award-winning olive oil start in the grove.  Irrigation management, nutrition levels and harvest timing can have a profound influence on the quality and the quantity of the end product. Trees which do not receive adequate irrigation tend to produce bitter oil. It is possible to reduce the bitterness by delaying the harvest and allow the fruit to ripen further, but you still end up with unbalanced oil which is difficult to blend.  Although many Australian consumers enjoy the taste of strong extra virgin olive oil, it has been our experience that the majority prefer to use a mild oil for most dishes. As we are interested in selling substantial quantities of oil we strive to produce a mild oil which has a high complexity of fruit aroma and taste.”

  • Rich Glen Olives, VIC

Phillip is General Manager of Rich Glen Olives, a 35,000 tree property at Yarrawonga, Victoria. Rich Glen has installed a new 5T per hour, 2 phase Processing machine, that will act as a regional processing facility. Phillip also stood on the AOA processors sub-committee.   “The whole issue of growing and creating a quality article has no purpose unless it meets the defined requirements of the customer. Blending to me is a procedure carried out to arrive at the product that your identified customer will enjoy and therefore buy. There is little point in marketing a blend that we love and adore the character of unless it imparts enjoyment to the user. I would hope that all producers of quality olive oil address the issue of giving the customer what they want, as a key priority to their business success.  I hope that my thoughts contribute to the development of your product’s success.”

  • Burnett Valley Olives, QLD

Adam Moller manager of Burnett Valley Olives of 320 acres of olive grove in the small town of Moffatdale, in the South Burnett region of Queensland.  The Olive Farm has 37,000 trees and rests on the banks of the Bjelke Petersen Dam. Fresh water from the surrounding BunyaMountains combined with unique soils produce six varieties of premium olives, for use in The Olive Farm range. “I believe a good blended oil consists of balance with fruitiness, pungency and bitterness.”

  • Spring Gully Olives, QLD (Vale Dan Burnet)

“The Australian Olive Association conducts olive oil tasting courses comprising three modules one of which deals with the art of blending.  Olive oils are blended to produce a style of product to meet consumer demand.  The blender may be given a written specification or be invited to blend to a sample.  In the latter case, the blender will taste the sample and record its organoleptic characteristics.  In both cases, the blender will sample all the oils available for blending to identify their individual characteristics.  Then it is a matter of experiment with different blends to match the desired result. Different cultivars, soil conditions and climate combine to produce oils with varying characteristics.  At Spring Gully Olives the oils are produced using a two-phase Oliomio 150 which leaves the oil in its natural state.  The 150kg per hour of the Oliomio is an ideal capacity which allows small growers to have their own oil processed and to process the olives of other growers.  Spring Gully Olives sells varietal oils and does not blend as the varieties grown to give a well-balanced oil.  However some varieties will give an oil with a big aroma without the balancing characteristics of bitterness or pungency whereas other varieties may well have excessive bitterness or pungency, it is at this point that the skilled blender will produce a balanced oil to meet the market demand”.

  • Rylstone Olive Press, NSW

“Blending olive oil really depends on 2 or 3 things, i.e. What your market dictates, How much oil you have and the positive characteristics of your oil.  Some olive oils are beautiful as varietals and should stay that way.  Some oils may be too delicate or too robust and need blending.   It is very important to know your olive oils.  You should keep a diary and make notes of the characteristics of your oil year by year.  I know seasonal influences occur and of course, this should also be taken into consideration.   Always enter your oils for testing at the accredited laboratory in your state so you know the full chemical analysis and organoleptic assessment of your oils.  This really should be performed as a straight cultivar varietal analysis.  Then, or, if you blend your oils for a certain market, remember to have the final blend analysed again so you have full traceability.   Having a very robust oil is great, however, robust doesn’t just mean bitter or pungent.  The oil has to be balanced so a ‘big’ robust oil needs a very fruity nose with overpowering amounts of bitterness and pungency.   Remember also that if your oil has a fault it is very hard, impossible sometimes, to blend the fault out of the oil and the fault ruins the rest of the blended oil.  These oils are best left to be infused, or for cosmetics.   I always encourage my clients to enter their oils into as many olive oil shows they can afford to. This is a great peer review of their oils and often the remarks from judges can be used as a marketing tool.   At Rylstone Olive Press, Jayne and her staff will assist any client who wishes to blend their oils.  Please call us for further information:  Jayne Bentivoglio, Rylstone Olive Press, NSW.  PH: 02 6379 1485.

*** Published in Australian Olive Grower & Processor Magazine in January/February 2005

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