I believe almost every household in Australia has a bottle of Cobram Estate olive oil in their kitchen. I don’t get paid to say this, but I am a big loyal fan of their olive oils for many years. I used to buy cheaper olive oils but that’s just me being cheapskate and they usually tasted rancid and wasted my money anyway. These days I prefer to pay a little bit more but at least I know the olive oil from Cobram Estate is fresh and taste good, especially the Extra Virgin Olive Oil which I use it as a dip with sourdough.
You might not know this, Cobram Estate has once again reinstated itself as one of the world’s most premium extra virgin olive oil producers for the fourth consecutive year at the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), the world’s most prestigious olive oil show. Cobram Estate was awarded one best in class, three gold awards and one silver award. So it raises the question, why Cobram Estate olive oil is better than the others? The only way to find out why is to be there and see it for myself.
They sure know how to make us feel special. It doesn’t happen everyday, a shiny private plane had been organised to take us direct to Cobram Estate where we got to see first-hand all aspects of harvest.
After a short two-hour flight, we finally arrived at Boundary Bend in woop woop where there was nothing but rows upon rows of olive trees. Rob McGavin, co-founder and CEO of Cobram Estate was already there to welcome us. Rob told us there are three sites in the estate and we visited the site where the olives were first planted. It is 10,000 acres with roughly 6,000 olive tree planted. We wasted no time and headed straight to the olive grove to check out all the action.
We took turns to hop on the giant harvester as it cruising slowly in a straight line, harvesting the fruit from the row of olive trees. The harvester looks a bit like the conveyor carwash with the spinning rollers going over the car, except the rollers are made of stiff fibre sticks. As the machine goes through the trees, the rolling fibre sticks will “flick” the olives off but without doing too much damage to the tree itself. None of the olives touches the ground, they are collected at the bottom of the machine and then transferred to the back of another truck via conveyor belt.
Every olive matters here at Cobram Estate. According to Rob, all the trucks must come back to the factory on the site every two hours simply because they want to keep the olives as fresh as possible before pressing. We saw a truck just dumping a whole load of freshly picked olives into the storage as we could see some of the olives only just started to wilt with wrinkly skins. Freshness is the key at Cobram Estate, the olives were picked, cleaned, crushed, juiced and transferred into a big storage tank all on the same day, to minimalise oxidation as much as possibly can.
Extra virgin olive oil is simply the natural juice squeezed from fresh olives, and this process sees it maintain many unique antioxidants. It is naturally produced, and is free of cholesterol, salt and trans fats and high in monounsaturated fat. But once the oil is in contact with air (oxygen), the oxidation begin. The oxidised oil will taste rancid, a fatty texture on your tongue, it will start to lose its antioxidant gradually and the chemical compound in the oil will also changed into something harmful to your health. We were advised that once we open a bottle of olive oil, it usually only has a shelf life of a few months, EVOO being the shortest.
I found this chart below interesting.
First of all, olive oil is clearly has higher antioxidant (polyphenols), squalene and vitamin E value compared to other type of oils. Everyone talks about squalene these days, it helps dry skin and cracking skin. However, the squalene supplements from the health shop are usually derived from shark liver oil which is unsustainable, that’s why getting squalene into your body from olive oil is a much better option.
Next you will notice that the imported EVOO and normal olive oil has less than half or very little antioxidant value due to oxidation because of many reasons including the method on how the olives were harvested and also the long period of time to ship the olive oil to another country.
After an informative tour of the Cobram Estate factory facilities, we got to enjoy a delicious long table lunch with the most beautiful setting in the middle of the groves. We also got to meet Leandro Ravetti, the chief oil maker at Cobram Estate, who took us through an interesting olive oil tasting session.
It was also very exciting that we got to try their limited edition 2016 Ultra Premium First Harvest cold pressed EVOO. As pure as it gets, this is the very first press of the first fruit from their annual harvest. I probably wouldn’t use it for cooking, best to just drizzle it over salad, or as a dip so you get to enjoy the natural unadulterated flavour. I read the description on the back of the bottle, it says it’s best enjoyed within four weeks once opened. Best to save for the special occasion I say.
Entree – cured ocean trout with pomegranate and orange dressed in Cobram Estate Lemon Infused EVOO. The fruity citrus olive oil worked exceptionally well with the fish. It was a light and refreshing starter.
Main course was local mushroom risotto infused with Cobram Estate Robust Intensity EVOO. The olive oil is a lot stronger, bitter and peppery, it elevated the subtle flavour of the mushroom beautifully. At this point, I was pretty much drowning everything in front of me with the limited edition premium First Harvest EVOO sitting on the table. Too good to pass up!
We concluded our meal with a decadent chocolate and plum tart made with Cobram Estate Light intensity EVOO. Olive oil and chocolate is a combination made in heaven, give it a try if you haven’t already.
Finally it was time to head home. I had an incredible time learning everything about olive oil. I have to thank the Cobram Estate team for organising such an amazing experience for us.
Is (extra virgin) olive oil good for you? You be the judge.