By Sophia Ricco
It doesn’t take much to spice up a meal or keep skin soft, with the help of nature’s oils and The Crushed Olive in Huntington village.
The store sells over 60 different olive oils and vinegars, that are held to a high standard of quality and freshness. Owners, Mona and Bob Rossero, originally opened The Crushed Olive while living in Hickory, North Carolina, after visiting another oil tasting shop.
“We had no idea what we were doing, but put one foot in front of the other,” Mona said. “We got the store open before Thanksgiving and it was an instant success.”
Both Long Island natives, they decided to bring their business back home and opened their first store in Huntington in 2011. Since then, The Crushed Olive has opened four stores on Long Island, spanning from Babylon to Wading River. They offer a unique shopping experience, allowing customers to sample multiple oils and discover flavors, like blackberry ginger olive oil and passion fruit balsamic vinegar.
“Our real success is that people can try anything they like,” Bob said. “If you’re shopping somewhere, you’ll see a lot of bottles but have no idea what it tastes like. Here you can actually taste it and try it with some bread, then we can fill it fresh for you.”
Business has boomed at the shops as people become more cognitive of what they are putting into their bodies. Part of food groups on Facebook, Mona has seen members search for healthy options, that tastes good.
“I honestly think people are starting to think more about where their food is coming from and what’s in it,” Mona said. “When I see people looking for salad dressings, all I think is there’s so much junk in it. Where as you could take a teaspoon of olive oil and vinegar and mix it together. There’s no chemicals, no added sugar, it’s like wine, there’s nothing added to it.”
It’s easy to incorporate oils and vinegars while cooking. The Crushed Olive providing recipe cards and inspiration for dishes. Turn a simple boxed brownie mix into a fruity sensation, by substituting canola oil for blood orange olive oil. A favorite with foodies, the tuscan herb olive oil blends classic seasonings together, with sundried tomato and garlic for a punch of Italian zest.
“I think people like the ease, that you can take a plain piece of fish or a bowl of pasta and just add a little bit of olive oil and vinegar, and you’re done,” Mona said. “You don’t have to have herbs on hand, it does all the guesswork for you.”
The Crushed Olive is supplied by a top-notch distributor, who grew up in the business and has extremely high quality standards, supplying the military and U.S. Olympic teams as well. They call her a “Mother Earth”, who has taught them a great deal about oils.
“She travels all over the world and procures these olive oils,” Mona said. “Everytime there is a harvest, which is every six months, she goes to the different estates and tests them, to make sure they are what they say they are.”
During a visit to California, Mona had the opportunity to watch the oil making process. From the farmers shaking the trees and the olives falling right into the hopper to processing, washing and crushing them into a thick paste.
“All of our olive oils are first pressed and cold pressed,” Mona said. “The first press will be the highest in nutrients and if you use warm water, you get a bigger yield but it’s not as high in nutritional value.”
Considered to be the freshest and highest grade, extra virgin olive oil is not treated with chemicals or altered by temperature, giving it many nutritional and health benefits. The Crushed Olive recommends to always check the chemistry of extra virgin, to ensure it is authentic.
“Labs basically take a sample of the olive oil and do a chemistry on it, to make sure it’s fresh, the antioxidants are accurate and the fruit was fresh when harvested,” Mona said.
Extra virgin olive oil should have high levels of oleic acid, low peroxide value, a high polyphenol count and a small percentage of free fatty acids, indicating the fruit was fresh.
Freshness is key. It is essential to use olive oil with a year of purchasing, for maximum flavor. Once a person finishes a bottle, they are encouraged to clean and bring it back for recycling.
“We find that when people first come in, they buy the smaller bottles and as they come back, they get bigger and bigger bottles,” Bob said. “We have five size bottles, so you have the small one to try it, up to the big 750.”
The Crushed Olive
278 Main St, Huntington