Many people assume that food is all about flavor; but there is another component that is just as important, the color. This is particularly true for fine ingredients such as Texas olive oil. If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of locally produced EVOO and contemplated where its rich golden-green color comes from, you’re in the right place.
According to Austin-area local producer, Texas Hill Country Olive Company, the color of the oil can tell you a story of its flavor, origin, and what you can expect from it.
Does The Color Of Texas Olive Oil Matter?
While it is important to note that the color alone cannot dictate the quality of oil as it needs to be judged on more than just the hue it gives off, it certainly plays a role. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) color is essential and should be considered under certain circumstances; however, it is not a defining factor in the finished product.
EVOO connoisseurs are passionate about judging an oil, not for its color but its flavor. Judges at local EVOO contests are bound to use blue-tinted glasses to ensure that only the taste of the oil is indeed taken into consideration when judging the final product.
The Color of Health
What does the color of a Texas olive oil tell us? It can impart information on the health benefits in a few ways. Two of the compounds present in the golden liquid have a host of health benefits and contribute to the color of the oil. These compounds offer both flavor and hue to any EVOO:
- Chlorophylls – This cancer-fighting pigment is responsible for the luscious green hues found in plants. Delicious green olives used for oil will be rich in chlorophyll and offer Texas EVOO’s signature green hue.
- Carotenoids – This is a powerful antioxidant found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. This compound is incredibly beneficial. It lends different hues of rusty orange and red shades.
These two compounds are quite literally the picture of health; while both are prominent at various stages of an olive’s life cycle, the amounts will vary depending on when the fruit is harvested. Some varieties of Texas EVOO will have varying degrees of each compound, even though it doesn’t mainly make one healthier than the other.
What Impacts the Final Color?
Many factors impact the color of Texas olive oil. Much like other plants and flowers, they might be of high quality despite their range of colors. They will be judged on the actual quality of the plant over its outward appearance. This is why it is vital to set aside assumptions about an EVOO’s quality based purely on its hue.
With that being said, some factors will impact the final coloration; they include:
- Variety – Different kinds of olive fruit naturally display different color profiles. This is due to the range of chlorophyll concentrations, creating a variety of shades of olive green fruit. Some produce delicately golden EVOO, while others impart darker green hues. The flesh and pulp color will impact the final product.
- Climate and region – Where and how the fruit is grown has a significant impact on the coloration. Regional factors, including weather, humidity, and soil quality, are all defining factors. One of the most critical factors influencing the color of the fruit is chlorophyll.
You can note that the amount of sun the fruit receives will dictate the levels of the green compound present. An EVOO from Italy cannot be compared to a Texas olive oil based on color alone, as there is bound to be a discrepancy, yet the flavor difference might be barely noticeable.
- Harvest – Perhaps one of the most defining factors that impact the color in an EVOO is the harvest date. The olive fruit does not stay green throughout its lifecycle; as the fruit ripens, it transforms into lush purple and almost black hues. This, too, will become a factor in the final color of an EVOO.
When The Color Of Texas Olive Oil Becomes Problematic
While it might be true that color alone is not the only factor on which to judge the quality of oil, there are times when you can use it to gauge the freshness of your favorite bottle. EVOO will change color as it ages. It is one of the first indicators that you might be sitting with an old bottle of EVOO that might not hold up to its promised flavors.
This is one of the reasons why storing it properly is so important, and it is vital to ensure that you use your EVOO within its best before date and store it in a cool, dry, dark space when not in use. Storing it in bright and warm conditions will lead to color leaching. This simply means it will begin to lose its vibrant color and look pale and flavorless. It might still be safe to use; however, it won’t offer you the same health benefits. Nor will it contain the full flavor you usually expect of Texas olive oil.
Is There a Perfect Way to Find the Right Color?
There are no hard and fast rules to shopping for a good bottle of EVOO; however, there are some minor considerations. Finding the right oil for your flavor palate is simple. It depends on a few factors. Most home chefs and gastronomical enthusiasts will agree that having a pantry stocked with a few different varieties is best.
There are many reasons for this. Not every meal can withstand the bold buxom flavor of robust Texan olive oil made with Arbequina and Mission olives blend. Instead, it needs a slightly more delicate finish made with 100% Arbequina fruit for a light buttery note. Both kinds can have vibrant varieties of color depending on their harvest dates while still offering the very best flavors imaginable.
Ditching the Rose Tinted Glasses
Have you noticed that your favorite bottle of golden Texas olive oil has a slightly more green color, or have you taken note your favorites have a distinct color profile? It is important to remember that even the most esteemed connoisseurs look at Texas olive oil through blue-tinted glasses.