Positive Olive Oil Characteristics
Since the olive is indeed a fruit, a quality olive oil should have some degree of fruitiness both in flavor and aroma. Good olive oil should always taste light and full of sun and rainfall, never dark, muddy or heavy.
Have you ever tasted a raw olive? It’s rather bitter. Therefore, a slight bitterness in olive oil is not only natural, but a good thing! The level of bitterness depends on how ripe the olive used is, and varies from brand to brand. Many olive oils have a nice balance of bitterness and fruitiness. Try different brands and let your taste buds be the judge.
When sampling a good olive oil, you’ll often detect a slight, zesty quality in the back of your throat. That is a normal characteristic of olive oil made with unripe fruit. It also means that there are certain antioxidants present in the oil. Again, let your taste buds be the judge since this pungency varies from brand to brand.
Negative Olive Oil Characteristics
When olives are gathered into piles for too long, fermentation begins. These olives should not be used for producing olive oil. Unfortunately, some manufacturers do, which causes an unpleasant taste and odor similar to that of rotting leaves.
Again, when olives are stored incorrectly – especially in a damp environment – they develop yeast and fungi and begin to ferment. This produces an olive oil with a rather moldy flavor and should be avoided.
Once again, fermentation is the culprit! It’s good for creating excellent wines and vinegars, but not for olive oil.
Think of how some poorly packaged vegetables in cans taste. That’s the metallic flavor some olive oils have when kept too long in containers with a metallic surface. Not a good thing!
Any foods containing fat – such as nuts and some baked goods – will go bad after being exposed to oxygen for a period of time. If you’re olive oil smells or tastes rancid, discard it.