The Hard Pressed Truth About Unfiltered EVOO
Olive oil is a pantry staple, so what’s the difference between filtered vs. unfiltered? Is one healthier than the other? Does one taste better? The key difference between the two is that unfiltered EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) still contains some particles from the pressing process. Some people argue that these particles add flavor to the oil, similar to how pulp adds a little something extra to orange juice. However, the bigger factor with these particles is that they can continue to ferment in the bottle, causing the oil to spoil quicker. Because of this, it’s even more important to store unfiltered oil in a cool, dark place and consume it quickly. If you’re someone who only uses EVOO on occasion and needs it to last longer, go for a filtered bottle. Filtering helps maintain stability, especially when stores and people aren’t great about sticking to the best storage practices. While the debate between filtered and unfiltered can be easy to get caught up in, when you’re choosing your next bottle of EVOO, keep these things in mind: the “Best by” date, the shade of the jar it’s stored in, and how often you’re going to be using it.
Many people are swayed by the “Harvest date” on their bottle, but the “Best by” date is actually a more accurate description of how long the oil will last (especially if it’s unfiltered). The harvest dates simply refer to when the olives were picked, not pressed or bottled. Next, make sure you’re buying olive oil that’s stored in a thick, dark jar. This prevents oxidation and will keep the oil from going rancid. Finally, keep in mind how often you use EVOO. If you’re just cooking for yourself a few times per week, you probably don’t need the Costco-size bottle made for a family of five. Olive oil is meant to be enjoyed fresh and while the flavors are at their peak. If you keep this checklist at the front of your mind when choosing your next bottle, filtered vs. unfiltered can simply be a personal choice.
Natural Nectar: The Wild Process of Making Natural Wine
Admittedly, I know little about the process of turning grapes to wine, so when we selected natural wine as a trend for the July report, we turned to Debbie Lawrence, a WSET Level 2 sommelier who manages Grapes & Grains in Barrington, to explain why these wines are popping up everywhere, and what makes them unique.
“Natural wines are an emerging trend in the wine world,” says Debbie. It’s “encompassed by the philosophy of minimal intervention viticulture. In other words, the winemaker aims for his/her wines to express that of the land—or terroir—and less of the winemaker. Currently there are loose definitions and regulations for these viticultural styles, and so many winemakers around the world will have varied interpretations of what a ‘natural’ wine means to them.” In general, when making natural wine nothing is added or removed during the wine-making process.
The end result can vary drastically. The “natural process adds a bit of funk to the bottle—similar to how an aged cider might be a bit funky. In general, it adds variety: from year to year, the same vinter, using the same grapes, may end up with a very different, and sometimes unexpected, bottle of wine.” The variety, Debbie explains, “is a celebration of terroir and the individual grapes, sometimes with more pronounced aromas, flavors, and a fuller mouthfeel due to the remaining sediment.”
Ready for a sip? It can be difficult to spot a natural wine at your local liquor store, so we recommend asking the wine clerk to point you in the right direction. Don’t sweat pairings too much: “natural wines tend to lean on the gastronomic side so they go with almost everything,” Debbie says. But, she recommends letting them breathe for a few minutes before taking a sip (a good exercise in self control, too).
You get brownie points when you choose a bottle of natural wine, as natural wine-making practices focus on restoring land in order to keep them healthy (and productive) for years to come.
Test, Test, is this Thing On?
One-third of infertility can be attributed to male reproductive issues, yet the word “Fertility” evokes an almost exclusively female association. Not anymore. Brands like Yo Sperm, Legacy, and Trak offer at-home testing solutions and supplementary apps to keep tabs on men’s fertility patterns. Social media has become a platform for conversations about male infertility, where historically the only online conversations were centered around the ladies. Groups like Men’s Fertility Support Group on Facebook offer an open forum for men to feel more comfortable discussing their family planning struggles and successes. Although male fertility isn’t widely discussed in our society, Google Trends would suggest it’s something that’s being searched at nearly double the rate of “Female Fertility.” To us, this means that the days of not talking about male fertility are over, and that men shouldn’t be limited to online forums to discuss these issues.
There’s plenty of misinformation circulating about men’s fertility that puts the onus on men to avoid certain activities and even chastises them about their underwear choice when it comes to fertility. We hope the increased product innovation and conversations around men’s reproductive health will lead to a more fertile (we couldn’t resist) ground for discourse and accurate information for all.
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