`Olive Center Expands Olive Oil Education to Adolescents and Children - Olive Oil Times

Olive Center Expands Olive Oil Education to Adolescents and Children

Aug. 26, 2022
Daniel Dawson

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More than two dozen ado­les­cents and adults com­pleted an olive oil edu­ca­tional pro­gram at the UC Davis Olive Center ear­lier this month.

Javier Fernandez-Salvador, the Olive Center’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, told Olive Oil Times that the pilot pro­gram was, to his knowl­edge, the first of its kind in the United States that pro­vided a com­pre­hen­sive sen­so­r­ial analy­sis and olive oil cook­ing class for chil­dren.

It’s essen­tial that we get peo­ple under­stand­ing oil at a younger age.- Javier Fernandez-Salvador, exec­u­tive direc­tor, UC Davis Olive Center

We wanted to exper­i­ment and see how every­thing went, and I think it went really well,” he said. Our next approach will include doing a spe­cific class for chil­dren. We need to reach this tar­get audi­ence first and expand from there.”

Over two days at the Robert Mondavi Institute in Davis, the ado­les­cents learned how to per­form olive oil sen­sory eval­u­a­tion, includ­ing how to iden­tify some com­mon olive oil defects, about olive oil food pair­ings and took part in an olive oil cook­ing class.

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We start with dif­fer­ent exer­cises, going over what is bit­ter and astrin­gent,” he said. Then we show them how to per­ceive and use your retronasal.”

Once the ado­les­cents learned how to taste, they were given sam­ples of ran­cid olive oil that had once been quite a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin and another fresh, green extra vir­gin olive oil.

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Fernandez-Salvador said most of the chil­dren iden­ti­fied the ran­cid oil as the fla­vor pro­file they asso­ci­ated with olive oil.

However, every­thing changed after he gave them an exces­sively ran­cid olive oil that exhib­ited some fusti­ness, which occurs when olives have been stored improp­erly after the har­vest and before milling and begin to fer­ment.

This whole process led to a dis­cus­sion on olive oil defects and was imme­di­ately jux­ta­posed by tast­ing a very pun­gent and robust extra vir­gin olive oil.

Fernandez-Salvador said it was impor­tant for peo­ple to learn to dif­fer­en­ti­ate defec­tive olive oil from extra vir­gin olive oil at a young age. Like hear­ing or sight, both the senses of taste and smell begin to dull as peo­ple get older.

As a result, Fernandez-Salvador added that it is harder to train a 30-year-old to detect olive oil defects than it is to teach some­one half of that age, which is the goal of the course. It’s essen­tial that we get peo­ple under­stand­ing oil at a younger age,” he said.

Thinking about how to cul­ti­vate best a sense of con­nec­tion and curios­ity about olive oil was also one of the rea­sons behind UC Davis ask­ing chefs and cook­book authors Maria Loi and Jehangir Mehta to present the cook­ing sec­tion of the course.

Fernandez-Salvador, who has a teenage son him­self, said that anec­do­tally he noticed many more young peo­ple becom­ing inter­ested in cook­ing as a result of celebrity chefs and watch­ing influ­encers present recipes on social media plat­forms, such as TikTok.

We [also] cov­ered a bit of the pro­duc­tion,” he added. We have a demon­stra­tion gar­den and a small orchard. We took them out there, and we did a lit­tle prop­a­ga­tion. We showed them how trees are har­vested.”

Fernandez-Salvador believes this type of edu­ca­tion is nec­es­sary to increase per capita olive oil con­sump­tion in the United States and dis­pel some of the per­sis­tent myths about cook­ing with olive oil.

He intends to expand the Olive Center’s offer­ing for children’s edu­ca­tion in the com­ing year, includ­ing pro­grams for young chil­dren.


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