Lunch at Queen Creek Olive Mill is three kinds of bruschetta. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Surrounded by olives as the harvest was just beginning, we were about to get a lesson in all things olive oil.

Queen Creek Olive Mill near Phoenix is Arizona’s only working and operating olive mill.

When Brenda and Perry Rea started the business in 2005 they did so with 800 trees. Now there are 11,000 trees (16 varietals) on the 100 acres.

On the tour it was stressed to look at the contents of the bottle of olive oil you buy. It should only say “extra virgin olive oil” (EVVO) unless something like garlic or lemon or some other flavor is added.

“Make sure the phrase ‘extra virgin’ is on the label. Extra virgin olive oil contains the most nutrients and is the highest grade of all olive oil classifications,” Queen Creek says.

If it says “olive oil” or “pure olive oil” or “light olive oil” then it has been refined and may only have a small percentage of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive harvest at Queen Creek in Arizona is in October and November. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The three positive sensory attributes to EVOO are bitter, pungent (peppery) and fruity. Whereas sensory defects include metallic, rancid, and musty.

Much like wine tasting, we were given a sample that we first smelled, then we sipped it—no bread involved—just pure EVOO.

This orchard-mill-restaurant-store is quite an attraction. Inside the sample of oils and vinegars seem limitless. Stuffed olive, tapenades, spices, sauces and other culinary delights are for sale.

It really is an experience—and that’s what the owners want it to be—agritourism.

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