What Is New Season Olive Oil?

Mid-October to early February is olive harvesting season here in the northern hemisphere. By the time January rolls around, the first of the new season olive oils are pressed and bottled - and it's not long before they start arriving at Sous Chef!

Every April we stock up with some of the freshest olive oils from France, Spain and Italy. But why should you buy a new season olive oil? How do you know what fresh olive oil looks like?

View our complete guide to olive oil.

What is new season olive oil?

New season olive oils are made with the year's first harvest and offer unrivalled intensity and complexity of flavour. 

Why should I buy new season olive oil?

As with most things food-related, the fresher the better. When they’re at their freshest you can really taste the difference between olive varieties - and even different olive growing regions.

Just like a fine wine, new season olive oils have many layers and nuances of flavour. And, just like wine, different oils pair well with different foods. Some work better with fish, while others are perfect for vegetables. And then there are olive oils that you’ll want to enjoy as simply as possible with some fresh bread for dipping.

How do I know how fresh an olive oil is?

Some olive oils will have the harvest date on the packaging. Look for the most recent harvest date for the freshest olive oil.

However, many olive oils don't have this information on the packaging. If the olive oil you're looking at is in a clear bottle, the first thing to look at is the colour. If a bottle of olive has been in your kitchen for a long time, it may have a dull, yellow appearance.

Fresher olive oils will almost seem to glow and are generally greener in colour. Keep in mind this isn't true for all olive varieties, though. Perfectly ripe Taggiasca olives, for example, produce a deeply golden oil when freshly pressed.

Then there's the taste. If you've tried different olive oils and thought they all tasted the same, chances are you've not tried a fresh one. The older an olive oil gets, the 'flatter' its flavour becomes. A fresh olive oil will have you picking out different flavours - is that almond perhaps? Are there notes of tropical fruit? Trying new season olive oils is a much more exciting experience, and they'll make a big difference to your meals.

What new season olive oils are available?

Here's our pick of the best new season olive oils for 2022:

Frantoio Muraglia Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 250ml

Frantoio Muraglia are passionate about olives. Their logo is the oldest olive tree in their grove – a majestic Coratina olive tree that is at least 450 years old and still gives fruit. They’ve been growing and pressing olives in the same way for nearly five generations of the Muraglia family, and their extra virgin olive oils have won over 16 awards in the past 10 years alone.

The extra virgin olive oil is cold-smoked to preserve the semi-fruity flavour of Peranzana olives. The cold smoking process also releases spicy notes from the oil, and it has a long, almost floral finish.

Honest Toil Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil, 500ml

Honest Toil works with a network of small growers in Kyparissia, Greece, where their Koroneiki olives are hand-harvested and cold-pressed on the same day. The final result is a vibrant green-tasting oil with a light peppery kick, notes of fresh-cut grass and an acidity of less than 0.3% (<0.8% is the legal requirement to qualify as "extra virgin"). And if you get through olive oil quicker than you do wine, it also comes in a handy 3 litre bag-in-box.

Frantoio Muraglia Intense Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Octopus Terracotta Bottle, 500ml

The intensely fruity olive oil is made from cold-pressed Coratina olives – a variety native to the Apulia region of Italy, where the Frantoio Muraglia olive groves are located. Coratina olives are unique in that they contain three times more antioxidant polyphenols than any other Italian olive variety. This gives the oil its intense flavour, with spicy notes and hints of astringency.

Nunez De Prado Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 500ml

Use the fruttato intense olive oil over cold bean salads, or drizzle over a traditional bread all’acquasale. This is a rustic dish of stale bread soaked in cold water and plenty of salt, with lots of fresh vegetables and a glug of olive oil.

From the sun-drenched hills of Andalucia comes Núñez de Prado. It's a blend of three famous Spanish olive varieties: Hojiblanca, Picual and Picudo. What makes this olive oil extra special is that it's 'the Flower of the Oil', or Flor de Aceite - the absolute highest grade of olive oil, obtained even before the coveted first cold press.

This olive oil is fruity and citrussy, yet somehow spicy at the same time. It has a peppery finish that balances the initial sweetness. Use as a finishing oil only - drizzled over salads or white fish and seafood - or simply pour into a small dish and devour with fresh bread.

Nicolas Alziari Provence Fruity & Intense Cuvee Pauline Olive Oil, 500ml

Discover another side to Provencal olive oil, this time with an olive oil made from young olives. The aroma is fresh and grassy - just what you'd expect from green olives. The flavour is wonderfully fruity, with an intense peppery kick on the finish that really wakes up the taste buds!

Alziari's fruity & intense olive oil is the perfect match for vegetables and salads. Ripe tomatoes, creamy avocados, steamed artichokes - keep it as simple as possible and this oil will do the rest.

Once you have your new season olive oil, the best thing to do is use it as quickly as possible while the complex layers of flavour are still distinct and fresh. However, it's unlikely you'll finish a full bottle in one go! So you need to know how to store your new season olive oil to keep it tasting as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

      Shop different Italian olive oils here, or view our complete guide to olive oil.


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