Get authentic, quality oil at Queen Creek Olive Mill in Arizona
Is the mafia marketing your olive oil?
Every time you shell out $20 for a bottle of decent olive oil, you should ask yourself, "Am I getting the best and freshest oil available?"
Did you see the 60 Minutes CBS television episode on mafia involvement in fake olive oil, aired in January 2016?
Between outright dishonest blending of lesser oils and deciphering what honest labels mean, it can be a challenge to get the olive oil you want. One solution is to go right to the olive grove and see the pressings yourself. To get some of the freshest and most flavourful oil you can buy, go to the source.
Why not go right to the olive grove?
Just following that 60 Minutes show, I was in San Tan Valley near Phoenix, Arizona, and visited The Queen Creek Olive Mill in Queen Creek. I have never tasted olive oil so delicious.
The “Fresh is Best” motto applies to many things in our kitchens, especially olive oil. The good news is olive oil has a shelf life of about a year, so annual trips to pick up oil are required or at least optimum.
Why not have another reason to go to Phoenix for the winter?
“Fresh olives give you fresh oil, it’s as simple as that,” said Perry Rea, co-owner of Queen Creek Olive Mill, master blender and olive oil sommelier.
The mill processes nearly 70 tons of its own harvested olives in addition to processing local growers' olives, and every year the production increases. You might ask yourself what all the fuss is about, right up until you try fresh-pressed olive oil for yourself. At the mill, there is a retail store and restaurant with lovely shaded outdoor tables to enjoy lunch.
Queen Creek Olive Mill provides daily olive mill tours and oil tastings for $7 per person.
What is the difference between early and late olive pressings?
Queen’s Creek makes two plain olive oils: the early green and the late fully-ripe pressings. Sharp, grassy, hay-wood flavours define the green-tinted oil of the early press, while the late press has a buttery-nutty flavour. Both are delicious dipped in fresh chewy bread or tossed over just-picked garden greens.
The Olive Mill produces specially flavoured oils blended with blood orange, chocolate or rosemary. Whole blood oranges are combined with green olives, pressed and centrifuged to extract the delicious oils. The same process is used with cocoa beans and fresh rosemary herb.
The mill retails a line of vinegars too. Salad dressing made with blood orange olive oil and prickly-pear balsamic vinegar will change your view of oil and vinegar dressing forever. Imagine roast lamb rubbed with rosemary oil and a bit of crushed fresh garlic or maybe rosemary oil-roasted potatoes.
Perry and Brenda Rea, co-owners of Queen Creek Olive Grove, were two of 20 worldwide "Professional Olive Oil Sommeliers" when they received the title in 2013 in Colorno, Italy, by the International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Agency and the International Olive Oil Academy. These folks know their olive oil. And while I will never give up my canola oil produced in Western Canada, I keep a couple of bottles of different olive oils and specialty vinegars from Queen Creek on my pantry shelf. Not that I need another excuse to return to Phoenix, but my oil supply is getting low.