Team Tasting Thursday: How We Test Our Oils Vs. The Competition

TTT Chicken

We’re kind of obsessed with how our extra virgin olive oils taste with different foods – cakes, dressings, drizzled atop grilled veggies, you name it. We also want to know how our oils stack up against oils from other producers worldwide. So we’ve developed a blind tasting system for doing so:  “Team Tasting Thursday” – and we encourage others to do the same.

Here’s how “TTT” – as we call it – works.   Each Thursday a member of our five-member marketing team will bring to the office two versions of the same dish: banana bread, for example. One was prepared using one of our own oils, say, Miller’s Blend or Arbequina. The other was prepared using an oil from another producer.

Other than the person who prepared the dishes, the rest of us don’t know which dish contains which oil. Our marching orders: match each dish with the appropriate oil.

Crowded around the two dishes, we’ll sample each one at a time. We’ll compare our impressions: “buttery,” “greasy,” “fresh,” “hmmm?”, “aha … I think I know.” The person who made the dish will then reveal the food and oil pairings.

Most of the time, we identify the correct oil and food pairing. But we’ve had a few surprises (hey, we’re human!).

So far we’ve had both delicious and not so delicious olive oil-walnut brownies. The fresh and fruity flavor of our Arbequina really made the brownies awesome, because it complemented the chocolate. By contrast, the brownies made with a leading brand of oil tasted nasty. (Click here to see the recipe for brownies.)

Vinaigrettes also offered a contrast in flavors. The vinaigrette made with our Miller’s Blend had a clean olive taste, while the version made with a major brand tasted greasy.

Interestingly, it was sometimes harder to tell with things like olive oil-fried eggs or a vegan, gluten-free chocolate olive oil cake. And, to be honest, we all liked eggs cooked in butter.

The big surprise was that, for the most part, we could “taste the difference” even in preparations where the item was cooked. The sautéed marinated chicken breasts – shown in the photo above with farro salad – were a case in point. The versions made with our two of oils had a bright and fruity taste, while the version made with a leading brand had a “dusty” taste.

We encourage you to host your own “Team Tasting Thursday” – though it really can be any day of the week, of course.  See how our oils stack up against those made by other producers.  Can you taste the difference? We’d love to hear what you taste!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch