Food info, Foodie, Healthy Eating, HOME N GARDEN, Tutorials and Information

OLIVE OIL – A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS- PART ONE

As I mentioned in a prior post, I am starting a health experiment next month.  I have an appointment with an Integrated health physician in Ohio.  I am going to see if these new agey ideas I once thought silly have more merit than I gave them.  Exercise and Healthy eating are the prime foci.  One element of healthy eating is using olive oil- good olive oil.  I have prepared a tutorial on this subject.  I hope you enjoy it.  I learned a lot.

Olives are the fruit of the olive tree {Olea Europaea}. All olives start green and darken as they ripe into the black olive and a multitude of varieties of this fruit exist. The olive tree has been found in the Mediterranean Basin since ancient times. The tree is thought to have originated in Asia Minor- Greece, Syria, and Isreal. The oil of the olive is obtained by squeezing/pressing the olive. This oil has been used in food, cooking, medicine religious rites since the time before Christ. The tree was planted by Romans during their civilization and is now found in the entire Mediterranean areas of southern Europe and North Africa. The Spanish and Portuguese took olives to the new world and you can find olive trees in South America and the south-west and the western USA; mostly California.

 

There are at least 26 varieties of olives. The most common known to me are

  1. Mission- USA /California, black olive which we are all familiar. The kind in the can or jar.  I toss them in salads and the frying pan when cooking.
  2. Manzanilla- small green olive from Spain.  I chop these up and add to tuna fish.
  3. Kalamata – Greece usually preserved in red wine.  I put these in salads with feta cheese.
  4. Nicoise –  French Rivera- black good out of hand.
  5. Gordal- huge green olive from Spain.  I have had these stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and put in my dirty Martini….yum

As I said, to make the oil, the olives are harvested;  some green, some black, some of a mix of varieties, some special blends or ripeness of olives.  And to make the cacophony even louder, there are special and regional blends.  Mama Mia!

Olive trees now cover the entire Mediterranean and eastern middle east, – Bloomberg

In 2014, world production of virgin olive oil was 3.05 million tonnes (table), a 9% increase over 2013 global production.[22] Spain produced 1.7 million tonnes or 56% of world production. The next four largest producers – Italy, Greece, Tunisia, and Morocco – collectively produced less than half of Spain’s annual total (table).

Some 75% of Spain’s production derives from the region of Andalucía, particularly within Jaén province which produces 70% of olive oil in Spain.[24] The world’s largest olive oil mill (almazara, in Spanish), capable of processing 2,500 tonnes of olives per day, is in the town of Villacarrillo, Jaén.[24]

Italy produced 294,914 tonnes in 2014 or 10% of the world’s production (table).[22] Major Italian producers are known as “Città dell’Olio” (“oil cities”), including LuccaFlorence and Siena. Italy imports about 65% of Spanish olive oil exports.[25] Some Italian companies are known to mix the imported olive oil with alternate oils (such as soy) and falsely market the blend as authentic olive oil “Made in Italy”,[26][27][28] creating a fraud that the European Commission has attempted to overcome by offering a 5 million Euro reward to stimulate better methods of authentication.[29][30]

Tunisia is the largest producer outside the EU (table), with 242,000 tons produced in 2014 to 2015, among which 73% was exported to Europe.[31] Because of the arid climate, pesticides and herbicides are largely unnecessary in Tunisia.[32]

Australia now produces a substantial amount of olive oil. Many Australian producers only make premium oils, while a number of corporate growers operate groves of a million trees or more and produce oils for the general market. Australian olive oil is exported to Asia, Europe and the United States.[33]

In North America, Italian and Spanish olive oils are the best-known, and top-quality extra virgin olive oil from ItalySpainPortugal and Greece are sold at high prices, often in prestige packaging. A large part of U.S. olive oil imports come from Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

The United States produces olive oil in CaliforniaArizonaTexas, and Georgia.[34] 

Above paragraph sourced from WIKI

OLIVE OIL

The product still today has many uses: medicines, cosmetics, foods, religious rites, and even industry.

But I am more concerned with the food usage.  I learned that the production for culinary use must meet fairly rigid criteria. The time of harvest, the passage of time before first pressing, the number of pressings, if chemicals are used in the extraction of the oil,  the level of acidity and taste are all part of the mix.

Therefore, based on this here are the 5 main types of olive oil.

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the first pressing of fresh olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting.   Must be extracted by non-chemical-mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat, specifically below 28C.   The free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8%. An  It must be defect free – having a perfect taste and aroma.

2. Virgin Olive Oil – also from the first pressing but the acidity level must be less than 2%.  It is inferior to the Extra but is milder in flavor.

3. Refined Olive Oil has been refined by using agents such as acids, alkalis, and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first pressing. The result is a fattier and more acidic oil which lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants. This is why producers need to add unrefined Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil to impart some of flavor, color, and aroma into the blend.
NOTE
Terms such as “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” are made up terms used by large producers and supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” then the Olive Oil is a refined oil lacking the taste, aroma, and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

4. Olive Pomace Oil the lowest grade…made from the leftovers of past production, the skins, pits, pulp.  The lowest grade obtained by using solvents as an extractor the waste of pst pressings. The oil is then refined for food usage.

5. Lampante Oil I included this because the article cited here did so.  Oil with severe defects, usually from bad fruit or poor processing practices. It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined.Oil with severe defects, usually from bad fruit or poor processing practices. It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined.I had never heard of it but it is not fit for human consumption and the title sounds like it might have been used as a lamp oil.

I use extra virgin olive oil now for most of my cooking…it is supposed to be healthier for you. It helps in lowering the bad cholesterol levels in our blood, as it is rich in monounsaturated fats. The extra virgin olive oil variety contains the highest level of antioxidant polyphenols and oleic acid.

I know that even extra virgin olive oils vary in taste and use.  Furthermore, I have discovered that olive oils- even extra virgin- vary depending on the company making it and especially the country of origin.

I first found this out after years of using whatever olive oil was on sale- but always virgin or extra virgin. The fad of dipping oil started and I liked going to the local Italian and Greek restaurant and dipping the homemade bread in olive oil and spices.  But I did find out there was a big difference in the Italian oil and the Greek oil.

Like wines, extra virgin olive oils can vary dramatically in taste, depending upon the type and quality of the fruit that is pressed, the time of harvest, the weather during the growing season, and the region from which the olives were produced.

Connoisseurs generally use the following adjectives in appraising extra virgin olive oils: mild, semi-fruity and fruity, depending on the flavor of the olive that can be detected. Further, some oils, such as the finer oils from Tuscany and Southern Italy, have a peppery finish other Italian oils have a herbal flavor.  Spanish olive oil is said to have a more fruity, nutty flavor. It is more yellow than the green Italian oil.  Green olive oil has a radicchio peppery taste and French has the mildest tasting of the oils.

The Greek olive oil I had was too peppery for my taste and actually caught me in the back of the throat…a very unpleasant feeling.  The Italian one I had did not. My favorite of all is a mild French oil that I use for salads. I cook with the other olive oils. More on cooking with the oil in Part Two.

But as in wine tasting…these statements may be challenged by another person’s olive oil preferences and palate.

Tomorrow I will discuss the OLIVE OIL & THE OIL WARS. Money, connoisseurs, egos, snobbery.

 

 

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