Q. Where did the name Frog’s End come from?
A. The simple answer is that the name was inspired by Howards End (A fictional park like English country estate in the film “Howards End"), and Brent's passion for frogs and all things froggy.
In hindsight it could also be in recognition of the recent ecological plight of frogs and amphibians worldwide, or with much less romance, the shape of the property when viewed from above.
Q. Why did we plant mainly Tuscan olive varieties?
A. We originally planted 22 varieties from several countries, as little was known about which variety would suit our soil and climate when we first planted in September 1993. It soon became apparent that our terroir suited the Tuscan varieties “Frantoio”, “Leccino” and “Pendolino” as well as the Greek “Koroneiki’ and Spanish “Manzanillo” and “Picual”. These were the varieties we kept, or replanted with when we rationalized the plantings in 2003. The Tuscan varieties produce wonderfully fruity and pungent oil, that is well balanced and very popular with our customers. “Frantoio” has turned out to be our signature variety. In essence, we get Italian flavour with Kiwi freshness.
Q. Is the oil pressed on the property?
A. No, our fruit is pressed at a nearby press house, at Tasman Olives. They have a Pegaso 500 Centrifuge, able to handle half a tonne of olives an hour. We store our bulk oil in sealed stainless steel vats and decant the oil within a fortnight of pressing. After another month the oil is ready to be bottled on an as needed basis as it keeps much better in bulk storage.
Q. Why tin cans?
A. Olive oil stores best if it is protected from air, heat and light. Tin cans are ideal for larger volumes, as they are impervious to both air and light, are cheap and practical containers. The cans can’t be reused for oil storage but the metal can be recycled.
Q. How do I know the oil I am buying is Extra Virgin?
A. Each Season, Frog’s End Estate sends off samples of its oil batches to an IOC accredited laboratory for testing. Check out the process at www.olivesnz.org.nz/certification.cfm
Oils that pass the rigorous testing are allowed to use the Olives NZ Olive Mark. Only certified oil can be entered into the annual Olives NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards. To see how Frog’s End has done consistently well over the past eleven years, check out our Awards page. Look for the red olive mark sticker on oils in your store.
Q. What is the expected shelf life of Frog’s End Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
A. Frog’s End Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so fresh and fruity (it has high levels of antioxidants) that provided the oil is kept away from heat, light and air, it should have a shelf life of two years. Dark bottles help to preserve the vitamins and antioxidants in the oil. The totally impervious tin can is well proven as a great container. Do not be tempted to leave your bottle of oil on the bench in the light as decoration. Once the container is opened, try to use the oil up within two to three months, to ensure total freshness.
Q. You always hear of Virgin and Extra Virgin. What are these degrees of Virginity?
A. Yes, it can be confusing and the answer quite specific, however, the following will explain the difference in simple terms.
Extra Virgin is the highest grade of Olive Oil attainable. This is achieved by fastidious management and by only using well grown fruit that is carefully harvested to avoid bruising, frosting and ground contact. The fruit is pressed fresh and clean, without the addition of heat (<27°C) chemicals or solvents. Absolutely nothing is added to the resulting natural fruit juice (Olive Oil).
The resulting oil should be well balanced, having a pleasant degree of bitterness and pungency (peppery aftertaste). It should have no organoleptic defects.
The oil must pass laboratory tests for Free Fatty Acid (FFA) levels (less than 0.8% for IOC requirements and a tougher 0.5% for New Zealand standards). FFA is essentially a measure of the freshness of the fruit being pressed.
The oil must have a Peroxide level of less than 20 meq O2 / kg fat (now 15 in NZ). The lower the peroxide level, the better the oil will keep, due to the high levels of antioxidants.
Virgin Olive Oil is much the same as Extra Virgin, except that the FFA level is allowed to be higher at between 0.8 and 2.0%. In other words the fruit being pressed was not in as fresh a condition.
Q. Has Olive Oil really been around for 6000 years?
A. It appears so. The olive has a fascinating history and a lot of romance which attracts a diverse range of New Zealand growers to take up its culture. Try http://www.internationaloliveoil.org/web/aa-ingles/oliveWorld/olivo.html and read all about the olives amazing story.
Q. New Zealand doesn’t quite match the Olive growing conditions of its native Mediterranean. How is it that our oil is so good?
A. Yes, NZ does have a short history of olive production. Check it out at www.olivesnz.org.nz/Olive_History.cfm
But Kiwis have picked up the essentials of premium olive oil production very quickly. We have the advantage of not being shackled by traditional techniques while also having the advantage of young soils, clear skies and cool autumns to enrich the flavours, and fortunately few of the bugs and diseases that disadvantage the traditional growing areas.