Early Harvest Olive Oil Health Benefits
Typically, the olive harvest begins at the end of November and lasts until mid-January. The olives collected during this period are already quite ripe, and juicy and, when pressed, produce fragrant and soft olive oil.
However, there is also something we call an Early Harvest Olive Oil. What is the difference? An early crop is harvested at the beginning of October. These olives are hard, and just starting to darken at this time.
The oil yield from such olives is much lower thus the resulting olive oil is more expensive than olive oil made from olives harvested at the usual time.
How Much Olive Oil Content Early Harvested Olives?
The oil content of early harvested olives can vary depending on several factors such as the olive variety, climate, soil type, and harvesting technique. However, in general, early-harvested olives have a lower oil content compared to olives that are harvested later in the season when they are fully ripe.
The oil content of early harvested olives can range from around 12-15%, while olives harvested later in the season can have an oil content of up to 25%. While the lower oil content of early harvested olives may result in a lower yield of oil per kilogram of olives, the resulting oil can have a more intense flavor and aroma, as well as higher levels of certain health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants and polyphenols.
How Does Early Harvest Olive Oil Taste Different From Late Harvest Olive Oil?
Early harvest olive oil and regular or late harvest olive oil can taste quite different due to several factors, including the ripeness of the olives, the processing method, and the storage conditions.
Here are some general differences in taste and aroma between early harvest olive oil and late harvest olive oil:
- Flavor: Early harvest olive oil typically has a more robust and intense flavor compared to late harvest olive oil. This is due to the higher levels of polyphenols and other health-promoting compounds that are present in the olives when they are picked early.
- Aroma: You can tell the difference between early harvest olive oil and an ordinary one not only by its taste but also by its smell. Early harvest olive oil also tends to have a more complex, intense, and vibrant aroma compared to late harvest olive oil. The aroma can vary depending on the olive variety and growing conditions, but early harvest olive oil is often described as having fruity, grassy, and peppery notes.
- Bitterness and pungency: Early harvest olive oil can also have a more pronounced bitterness and pungency compared to late harvest olive oil. Almost all early harvest olive oils are so bitter and peppery that you will cough after swallowing some. This is due to the higher levels of polyphenols, which contribute to the bitter and pungent taste. Some people enjoy the bitterness and pungency of early harvest olive oil, while others may find it too strong.
- Color: Early harvest olive oil is typically greener in color compared to late harvest olive oil. This is due to the presence of chlorophyll, which is more abundant in unripe olives.
Overall, the taste and aroma of early harvest olive oil and late harvest olive oil can vary depending on several factors. However, early harvest olive oil is generally known for its more intense flavor and aroma, as well as its higher levels of health-promoting compounds.
Still, the range of flavors may be different, as this depends on the variety or blend of olives.
Don’t use this kind of olive oil with fresh vegetable salads, because it will dominate and completely kill the taste of the meal.
Early harvest olive oil is the best olive oil for finishing such dishes as a juicy steak, or grilled fish.
It’s also worth noting another important side of early harvest olive oil – its health benefits. Here are some potential health benefits of early harvest olive oil:
- Higher antioxidant content: Early harvest olive oil is typically higher in antioxidants, including polyphenols and vitamin E, than regular olive oil. For example, regular extra virgin olive oil contains about 150-200 mg of polyphenols per kg, while the number of polyphenols in early harvest olive oil is more than 500 mg per kg. These antioxidants can help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with many chronic diseases.
- Lower acidity: Early harvest olive oil has a lower acidity level: about 0.2 %, compared to the usual range of 0.4-0.6 % acidity in regular harvest olive oils, which makes early harvest olive oil more stable and less likely to go rancid. This also means that it may be easier on the digestive system for some individuals.
- Lower levels of free fatty acids: Early harvest olive oil typically has lower levels of free fatty acids, which are associated with inflammation and other health problems. This makes it a healthier choice for those looking to reduce their risk of chronic disease.
- Improved heart health: The high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in early harvest olive oil may help improve heart health by reducing inflammation, decreasing oxidative stress, and lowering blood pressure.
- Improved cognitive function: Some studies have suggested that the polyphenols and other compounds in early harvest olive oil may help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
In our store, almost all olive oils are made from early-harvested olives. Here you'll find more than 10 different early harvest olive oils to choose from.