` An Olive Oil from Japan Wins Top Award - Olive Oil Times

An Olive Oil from Japan Wins Top Award

May. 7, 2015
Olive Oil Times Staff

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When the win­ners were announced at the world’s largest olive oil com­pe­ti­tion in New York last month, the top prize in the Northern Hemisphere del­i­cate mono­va­ri­etal cat­e­gory was not awarded to a pro­ducer from Italy or Spain, as one might have expected. The cov­eted Best in Class Award went to Toyohiro Takao, the pro­ducer of an exquis­ite Mission olive oil from Japan.

Mr. Toyohiro’s brand, Takao Nouen no Olive Hatake, is pro­duced on a small fam­ily farm in Shodoshima on Shōdo Island where, in 2008, he planted Mission and Lucca olives from California.
See Also: The World’s Best Olive Oils for 2015
Olives grow well on the island, but it’s not always easy. Japan has rainy sea­son, typhoons, and humid­ity is extremely high in the sum­mer,” said Toyohiro. What I most worry about is when we have high pre­cip­i­ta­tions. During this sea­son, (the olive trees) are more prone to get sick, injured and even a mature tree can die.”

Toyohiro Takao’s farm in Shodoshima, Japan

An impor­tant part of his care of the farm comes down to the weeds that flour­ish between the trees on the lush grove: I cut the weeds four times per year by hand and no her­bi­cides are used,” Toyohiro told Olive Oil Times. He leaves the cut weeds on the ground and spreads them around evenly.

We don’t cut weeds dur­ing the rainy sea­son to help pre­vent the pen­e­tra­tion of too much water into the soil or cause a land­slide on the moun­tain­ous ter­rain of Shodoshima.”

Toyohiro fer­til­izes with an orig­i­nal blend of manure, oys­ter shells, olive pomace, and a rice and beans-based com­post which I har­vest to facil­i­tate the root’s oxy­gen level, as well as to achieve bac­te­ria, and micro­bial sta­bil­ity.”

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Toyohiro said the major­ity of Mission olives har­vested in Japan are used for table olives but are not suit­able for oil extrac­tion. Extracting oil from them is a chal­lenge.

Great Things in Small Packages: NYIOOC Best in Class Award winner Takao Nouen no Olive Hatake

The tim­ing of emul­si­fi­ca­tion and malax­a­tion are cru­cial. A shorter grind­ing process may result in a more raw paste that pro­duces less oil and has a less ripe taste, a longer process may increase oxi­da­tion of the paste and reduce the fla­vor. Green olives usu­ally pro­duce more bit­ter oil, and over­ripe olives can pro­duce oil that is ran­cid, so for good extra vir­gin olive oil care is taken to make sure that olive are picked at the right time.

Indeed, right after pick­ing the olives, I pro­ceed to have extrac­tion right away. I have to reach at least 10 per­cent of oil yield in order to make a profit in this busi­ness, but that would mean pick­ing only over­ripe olives. I chose not to. I want to pro­duce the best qual­ity olive oil every year. I grow fruits such as plums for my own and I pick them when they ripe well. The olive is dif­fer­ent. Producing olive oil is extremely dif­fi­cult, but fun at the same time.”

Appealing to Japanese tastes for small pack­ages, Takao Nouen no Olive Hatake olive oil is sold in a bot­tle so small (70ml) that it might be con­fused for per­fume. Nevertheless, in the totally blind tast­ings by the world’s top judges, Toyohiro’s oil loomed large.

Ever since I became an olive farmer, my dream was pro­duc­ing one of the very dis­tin­guished olive oils,” Toyohiro said when he was noti­fied of his win at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil com­pe­ti­tion. All the hard­ship we expe­ri­enced were com­pen­sated by hear­ing this good news.”

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