Maia Hirschbein is an interesting lady. She grew up feasting on fresh fruit from her own backyard orchard in San Diego between meals of spaghetti and fried chicken. That connection to food has led Maia on a fascinating journey of the world, as she’s used food as a mechanism for entrepreneurship, education and travel.
She is now an oleologist, at the CA Olive Ranch, and while we didn’t get an exact definition on what that is, after a long conversation over tea (and olive oil), it’s pretty safe to assume that it means something like, “olive oil expert.” She interacts with Bay Area Chefs and food people touting (rather convincingly) the benefits of local oil.
In the podcast we slurp our way through some of California’s finest oils (and one oil with a tremendous history). To get you hyped for the podcast, here are a couple fun facts you can consume in the interim.
STUFF TO KNOW ABOUT OLIVE OIL
- Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve, rather diminishes with age. That said, your oils should be from the previous vintage.
- Most oils come from nuts, seeds or pits. Olive oil comes from the flesh, so it is actually more like a juice than an oil.
- Because of it is a fresh product, it will never be better than the moment it is harvested
- Many of the top producers will have some indication of quality on their bottles, for instance: The harvest date, the bottle date or in the case of local oils, the California Olive Seal.
- What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
- Extra Virgin is an oft used, but not well understood preface to many of the oils we see in stores. It is an indication the oil is actually comes from olives (good start!) and that it has been tested to verify this. It is said to be the highest quality oil, though many overseas oils are falsely labeled.
- Olive Oils are high in polyphenols, which is the thing that helps keep us looking young, helps with circulation and are generally loaded with beneficial antioxidants.
- Rancid is the word used to describe an olive oil that’s gone bad, but unlike what we may normally consider a “rancid” flavor in oils, it’s not a sour or off-putting, it’s just left tasting dull.
- According to Maia, 70% of Americans actually prefer the taste of rancid oil