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OLIVE OIL – A CAUTIONARY TALE- PART TWO

Who would have thought that these beautiful, gentle orchards could be the backdrop for nefarious activity?

In the distant past, olive oil held monetary value.  A highly valued asset, it was traded as money. To own olive trees was to hold wealth…the more trees, the more wealth. Large olive orchards were maintained by the rich, people were hired to tend and care for the crops, output was highly reviewed and orchard owners praised those who would grow the best olives and obtain the highest output for the owner.

Adjunct industries developed around the trade of olive oil.  Potters made containers, carpenters made wood wheel barrels, roadways were developed and maintained to get the crop to market easier and quicker, ports developed to hold and ship the olive oil, boats and crews were needed to deal with the oil trade, etc.

“Olive oil was one of these leading, but declining commodities. Firmly established in most
of the coastal areas bordering on the Mediterranean basin, olive tree cultivation and olive oil
production had traditionally served to meet domestic requirements. Olive oil was also abundantly
traded in foreign markets, particularly in northern Europe, where it was in demand for several
industrial uses, such as a raw material for soap making, lubricant in machinery or as a fuel in
lighting. By the mid-nineteenth century, olive oil was already well-established as a staple item
for most of the Mediterranean countries. Of course, its contribution to total export growth variedacross countries and over time. In general, it was never as impressive as other agriculture products: silk products in Italy, currants in Greece, raisins in Turkey or wine in Portugal and
Spain accounted for a much larger percentage of their total export values and consequently all
these commodities had a major (and sometimes determinant) influence in total export trade.
Nevertheless, with a percentage of between 4 and 6 percent of total export values, it ranked third in Portugal and fourth in Spain in the 1850s, it had become the second largest export commodityin Greece in the late 1860s, and it ranked sixth in Ottoman export trade in the late 1870s”… paper written by Ramon Munos

In more modern times, the demand for olive oil increased siginifantly.  A report written by an Itialian farming group states it has increased ove 73% in the past 25 years. while it is still used in medicine, cosmetics, soaps, industry and many other applications, the most sigbifgant upswing has been realted to its use in cooking and healthy eating.  Even Japan now has a big demand foolive oil.  While in natural countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain, local demand has been stable, the world demand has greatly increase.

The Olive Oil Times- really there truly is such a publication states:  World olive oil consumption in 2015 was pegged at a record 3,295,911 tons in the report. Italy led the list of consumers with 640,443 tons, followed by Spain with 540,133 tons and the United States, which consumed 339,512 tons — a 250 percent increase over 25 years ago. Califronia and a few other weestern states now grow olives of fairly decent grades. So you don’t have to avoid the Califronia olive oil nor the California wines.

Americans alone spend $700 million on olive oil all by themselves!!!!

Want to dip some bread?  That looks so good.

FRAUD

With this increase in demand, man’s baser instincts have reared it’s ugly head.  Regulations on olive oils have been necessary,  In 2008, the Italian police went after people for olive oil fraud.  Low grade olive oils mixed with finer grades and sold as better olive oils. Some olive oils are being sold for phenomenal prices.

One olive oil sold for high prices are those from ancient trees- Millenary olive trees are those that have, at the very least, a trunk with a contour that measures 3,5 [ 12 ft] meters at a height of [1.30 meters / 4 ft]from the ground. The oil from these trees range from around €20 to €100 a pint.Their olives are picked manually from the tree itself and transported to one of the eight oil mills of the area, producing what is known as extra virgin olive oil from millenary olive trees.

Jose Verge of Spain owns a good many of these old trees. The olive oil pressed from millenary trees is expensive ‒ priced several times higher than regular olive oil. Verge charges 78 euros for 500ml / one pint of oil from his 1,000-year old trees; his rate for the same amount of oil from his 2,000-year-old trees varies. Other producers in the area charge anywhere from 20 to 100 euros for 500ml.

Hoodwinking the public continues with the practices of using terms like cold pressed- first pressed, extra virgin, premimum, natural , made in Itlay.  Today, a great deal of olives used are place in cenrafuges and not presssed.

It is recommended that we buy olive oil certified by reputable organizations such as California Olive Oil Council—COOC Certified Extra Virgin. Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA), and UNAPROL, the respected Italian olive grower’s association, which stamps their recommended bottles with a “100% Qualita Italiana” label.

Make sure your Extra VIrgin is 100 %Extra Virgin.  You can buy a olive oil mix of different olives but the  oil must be 100% virgin. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) also tests member samples and marks qualifying products with a NAOOA Certified Oil stamp, denoted by a red circular logo with a green olive branch. International Olive Council certification is another good one to look for.

Another ways to find good olive oil is to buy by known locations.  Australia and Chile have good reputations for bottling real olive oil. but again, look for verification symbols.  Why pay over $10 a liter for a fake! This is the one I use for salads- a blend of different olives but 100% extra virgin.

I buy is at Amazon  but you can do a google search and find it at other places.

A olive oil cerification report listed some “fraud” extra virgin olive oils. They were:

  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Star
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods

Real EVOO were

  • Bariani Olive Oil is Stone Crushed, Cold Pressed, Decanted, and Unfiltered California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and they are committed to producing an authentic extra virgin olive oil which is raw. Weston Price recommends this oil.
  •  Corto- can sometimes be purchased at Costco.
  • Cobram Estate  – Australia’s most awarded extra virgin olive oil
  • California Olive Ranch – Award winning olive oil brand. It is in a tinted glass bottle protects oil and is 100% grown and made in California. 
  • Kirkland Organic –  Amazon says: “Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil certified organic by the USDA. Made from the first cold pressing.” Comments on Amazon: of the 478 people who gave stars, 73% gave 5 stars.I have to say it is a very delicious olive oil, tasting like real olives; I’m just finishing up the bottle I bought.
  • Lucero (Ascolano)
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic
  • Ottavio – good olive oil but in a plastic bottle.
  • Omaggio
  • Whole Foods California 365 – 100% Californian, Unfiltered, Cold Processed,  California Olive Oil Council – Certified Extra Virgin
  • Olea Estates100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This olive oil is grown on a single family farm in Greece and is a great tasting olive oil

This list from the following article

Bottom Line

To ensure you get REAL PURE EVOO

  1. Look for a recognized certifying body like the California Olive Oil Council
  2. Buy only in dark glass bottles- olive oil goes bad if exposed to light.  It oxidizes.
  3. Know it will cost about $10 a liter- if not it is likely not all extra virgin
  4. Buy from a grower with a good reputation..you might have to do some research
  5. Look for harvesting date- olive oil best if consumed within a year of manufacturing
  6. Taste if you can- it can go rancid. Fresh oil has a light fruits taste with a bit a pepper in the back of your mouth.

Remember olive oils do vary in taste by regions; as I said in yesterday’s report.  French olive oils are thought to be the lightest in taste.  This is the oil I buy for salads. It’s a blend of green and black from three different countries for Alziari’s farm in Nice, France.  Very mild…too expensive to use for cooking. NOTE- it is a blend but of all EVOOs; so like a wine blend- it works.  In fact, it IS very easy to make the comparison of wines to olive oils as the principles of growing, harvesting, blending, and taste have similarities.

That brings us to our last issue

WHAT OIL FOR WHAT?

Consider Temperature When Cooking with OilCOOKING TEMP-Like with my Alziari olive oil…very light in taste so it works well with all my salad dressing. but I don’t cook with it. I also use it to drizzle on pasta or pizza, mix with spices for bread dipping – basically a cold application.  You can cook with EVOO but if economics is a big issue regular virgin olive oil work as well.  Some advocate using extra light for high-temperature frying as it sometimes has a lower smoking point than EVOO. However,  If you are going to cook at temperatures of around 180C or 340F the extra-virgin EVOO is the best- it is highly stable and pure at those temperatures.  If you are going to cook at very high temperatures, I would use another cooking oil that can take high heat.

 

Stir fry with peanut oil, corn, soybean or sesame for high heat- they have the highest smoke points.  I use olive oil EVOO and add butter to bring up the smoking point- or I use peanut oil, lard or butter. Coconut oil has a very high smoking point but I do not like the taste in foods, I find it takes over the taste. I use to deep fry in vegetables oil- corn, canola, sunflower but NO more.Health advocates would admonish me for using the peanut oil also as it has a high Omega 6 content…I will look into using Avacado oil, which has healthier Omega 3s.  I also hear grapeseed oil might be good. NOT RAPESEED- that’s canola oil. I do AVOID corn, soybean, canola, sunflower oils even though they tolerate heat they can be made from GMO grains/seed or highly chemically processed.  Hopefully, I like the avocado oil AND I can find it. I’ll check out grapeseed and let you know.

 

 

 

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