Olive oil history, Specials and news

 Specials and news

- Olive oil History.
- Olive oil production: From tree to table.
- Different grades of olive oil
- What do first pressing and cold pressing mean?
- How to taste olive oil.
- Tips and techniques for using olive oil.

Olive oil History

Olive oil enjoys a preeminent status as one of the very oldest foods as its use dates back at least 4000 years b.c. As a major component of Mediterranean diet, olive oil has also enjoyed a heightened awareness as a healthful alternative to other types of fat in the kitchen and at the table. Consumption of olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil is increasing dramatically every day.
Along with wheat and grapes, olive oil form a triumvirate of the Mediterranean cuisine, a holy trinity as it were of bread, wine and olive oil. To the ancients, these were the three most precious commodities, for with them one could sustain life, as well as perform the various religious rites that were common to everyday life. Today, we still honor the trio because they are at the very heart of what many of us cook and eat.

Olive oil production: From tree to table

Main quantities of olive oil are produced in the Mediterranean region. Like all agricultural products, the cycle of olive oil production begins with the harvesting of the olives from the trees and ends with the storage and eventual distribution of the oil. The characteristics of the oil obtained in this process are conditioned by the varieties of olives and the climate of the area where they are grown, the components, and tilth of the soil, systems of cultivation that regulate the amount of water, and any destructive pests which can damage the fruit.The production of olive oil is primarily the separation of the liquids contained in the olive from the solid components of the fruit. This is followed by the separation of the oil from the olive's naturally-held water.
Olive oil is obtained from the olive solely by mechanical or by other physical means. It has not undergone any treatment other than washing, crushing, and preparation of the paste, separation of the solid and liquid phases, decantation, and filtration. Olive oil is the oily juice of the olive. Prior to crushing, the olives should be run through a washer. Usually the olives are crushed whole.
The whole clean olive is harvested at the moment of optimum ripeness, a paste is made by crushing the whole fruit. This is usually done under granite mill stones or steel ones that resemble those used more than a thousand years ago. This process opens the fruit's "cell" that holds the oil. The olive paste is then further cut and mixed (by a process called "mixing") in order to obtain a better separation of its different components.
This paste is then spread over round straw mats. Every five or six alternate layers of paste and mats are separated with round steel plates. The resulting "stack" is placed under a hydraulic press. It is in one pressing at room temperature that the olive paste its liquid components.
After filtering, the liquid obtained from the presses is composed of oil and vegetable water. The oil is than separated from water. This separation has been performed by the natural decantation of the liquids, a system which is still used in some mills. Most recently, however centrifuge machines are increasingly used for this process.
The quantity of virgin olive oil obtained depends on the variety, the moisture content of the fruit, and the characteristics of each growing season.
The oil produce at mill has to be stored for a relatively long period until it is sold. It must be stored in tanks made of material inert to the oil, and protect it from air and lights as much as possible.
The quality evaluation of the olive oils is carried out almost exclusively by tasting and measuring their acidity. In a certain sense, olive oil is handled much in the same way fine wine is. Following this, the mill technicians decide into which separates groups the oils have to be stored:
A: Edible or virgin oils, which are classified in two sub-groups.
1. Extra virgin
2. Virgin

B: Not edible oils: Processing always produces some oils that are inedible due to deterioration of raw material, faulty handling or poor growing conditions. These oils are refined which results in colorless, tasteless and odorless oil. To make them edible this refined oil is blended with virgin olive oils to give them color, taste, and odor which become known as regular olive oil.

Different grades of olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the most natural and flavorful of all oils. It has a deep color and intense flavor. Like fine wine, it has a wide range of flavors, colors and aromas. It is produced with the first cold pressing of olives and contains no more than 1 % acidity. The lower acidity of the oil, the higher the quality, and the more distinct are the flavors and aromas.
Extra virgin olive oil is more expensive than olive oil because it is produced in smaller quantities from select olives, and offers the widest range of taste. Flavor and depend on the variety of the olives, growing conditions, the time and method of harvest, and finally the care with which the olives are turned into the finished product, bottled, and stored. Extra virgin olive oil has been described as possessing perfect taste, odor and an intense fruity flavor.
Virgin olive oil is also obtained from the fruit of the olive trees solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions that do not lead to deterioration of the oil. This oil does not undergo any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation, and filtration. This product is mainly used for blending with refined oils because it they have lowers economical value than extra virgin olive oils. That is why you are unlikely to find them on the retail shelves or in food service.
Olive oil is the product of refined oils which have been blended with virgin olive oil to balance acidity, aroma, and taste. Reefing makes the oil colorless, odorless, and flavorless oil. Virgin olive oil is then added in small quantities to achieve taste characteristics desired by the different manufacturers of olive oil. Olive oil must have an acidity of less 1.5 %. While less flavorful and aromatic than extra virgin olive oil, olive oil is high in monosaturated fat that remains a healthy choice of cooking oil. Within this olive oil category, there is also product called Light or Mild olive oil. This is lighter only in terms of taste and color because less virgin olive oil was added to the refined oil.
Olive pomace oil is extracted from the "pomace" (pulp, the remaining portion of the olive after pressing,) through the use of solvents. The resulting oil is refined to produce colorless, odorless, and flavorless oil. Virgin olive oil is then added in small quantities for flavor and color. It is produced at a lower cost than olive oil because pomace, waste material, does not have nearly the value of olives that are used for pressing into oil. This product is mostly used for Food Service industry.

What do first pressing and cold pressing mean?

Extra virgin olive oil is produced with only one cold pressing. The term "first pressed" was used in the past when less powerful presses made it necessary to have more than one pressing. "Cold pressed" means the oil has undergone very little processing and will retain its nutritive value. These terms are considered interchangeable in identifying extra virgin olive oil as an unrefined, natural product.

How to taste olive oil.

An olive oil tasting is conducted much like a wine tasting. Once you have collected likely candidates, taste by taking a small spoonful "chewing" it and letting the oil work on your palate. Roll the olive oil around in your mouth to determine the texture. Make sure you use the tip, center, and back of your tongue along with roof of your mouth to fully experience the oil's texture. Then suck air through the oil and see how distinctive flavors come through. Finally, swallow and wait for the aftertaste.
Here are some of characteristics that differentiate the various olive oils:
Color: Hold a clear container of olive oil up to the light. Greener color signifies a fresher product.
Aroma: smell the oil, some words used to describe olive oil: fruty, fresh, flowery, spicy.
Flavor: Taste the oil: some words used to describe olive oil flavor: olivey, mild, mellow, fruity, nutty, zesty, peppery, light, heavy, intense, sweet, rich, assertive, subtle, and delicate.
Flavors and aromas are determined by climate, location, weather, and production techniques.
Body: The mouth feel of an olive oil can range from light to full which is also an indication of the density of the oil.
Enjoy your discovery of the flavors and aromas of our extra virgin olive oils.


Since olive oil as available in different grades and flavors, choose the oil for the purpose for which it will be used from among extra virgin olive oils and olive oils. Color, flavor and aromas can vary dramatically between different olive oils. A selection of olive oils for different purposes (i.e. salads, sautéing, baking, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, breads, etc.) is a good way to add favor and satisfaction to foods. As a general rule, cook with "olive oil" and season and drizzle with "extra virgin olive oil". Extra virgin can be used if you want a pronounced flavor of oil to come through (i.e. sautéing fish or meat, grilled fish, drizzle on pizza and salads) because it can go to a higher temperature than regular olive oil without burning.
Light and delicate dishes like poached or sautéed fish, chicken or veal, or mild-flavored soups, may be better served by milder, less fruity oil. Full-flavored robust dishes such as hearty stews, soups, or tomato-based sauces welcome a fruitier, flavored olive oil, as do steamed vegetables and salads.
Roasted, barbecued and braised dishes which require high or prolonged cooking time probably cook best with olive oil because it is less rich in the volatile compounds than evaporate with heat. You can also stir fry and deep fry with olive oil. The olive oil can even be filtered after frying and use it again because olive oil is stable at high temperatures.
Olive oil is excellent for baking because it contain Vitamin E that acts as emulsifiers producing a smooth, homogeneous which results in cakes that have a moist and tender crumb. Vitamin E also retards staling and results in a fresher product. Baking with olive oil, produces lighter tasting baked goods than butter and also allows the flavor of the other ingredients to come through with more clarity. Continued usage of olive oil in baking can dramatically cut the cholesterol and saturated fat in baked products.

Since olive oil "ages" and gradually looses its taste profile, it is best to store olive oil in a cool, dark place. Light and heat will accelerate the aging process and also causes oxidation which will give the oil a rancid taste. Actually some olive oils have a naturally build in light filter which reduced the risk of oxidation: the green color. This means that lighter colored oils will tend to oxidize and age faster then greener colored oils.
Olive oil is a healthy choice
Olive oil is a basic ingredient of the traditional Mediterranean cuisine in that it is prized for its flavor and nutritional properties. The Mediterranean diet is composed primarily of whole grains, legumes, beans, fruit, seafood, yogurt, wine, and of course olive oil. People who live in the Mediterranean region and who use olive oil as their main source of fat have the world's lowest mortality rate due to cardiovascular illness.
Research has shown that olive oil has been linked with preventing cardiovascular diseases. A lower consumption of animal fat and higher consumption of gourmet foods, from plants in the countries of the Mediterranean relates well with the lower incidence of heart diseases.
Other important studies have looked into effects that olive oil has on digestive system; while to a lesser extent others demonstrated how olive oil contributes to balance cell development.
It has been suggested that oleic acid, a component of olive oil may prevent tumor growth. A lower incidence of gallstones has also been reported in populations consuming olive oil which attributed to the way in which olive oil stimulates bile drainage.
Olive oil is very rich in vitamin E which is linked to the decrease of chronic heart disease. Vitamin E also helps maintain optimal immune response and reduce risk of dangerous cellular changes. It protects cell membranes against attacks by free radicals which enables the immune system to respond to antigenic challenges. Free radicals are generated by cigarette smoke, radiation, and certain pollutants like smog.
Besides vitamin E, beta-carotene, tyrosol and hydroxtyrosol are also found in olive oil. Tyrosol and hydroxtyrosol are phenolic compounds found in the olive pulp that have an antioxidant effect which might suggest it might be an important determinant of its resistance to oxidation.
Cholesterol levels have also been affected by the amount of olive oil. Diets containing olive oil are able to produce total plasma cholesterol levels similar to those obtained on law-fat diets which give higher levels of HDL-Chol and lower levels of triglycerides. Triglycerides help lower the cholesterol level.
Before you get carried away by enthusiasm and add gallons of olive oil to your diet, a few words a caution are in order. Large consumption of olive oil may keep you healthy, but not necessarily thin. This oil, though beneficial, still contains just as many calories as any other oil, namely 120 calories per tablespoon. But give the extra boost of delicate flavor and aroma that olive oil gives to all foods, you'll probably use less than you normally would of otherwise bland vegetable oils.

Tips and techniques for using olive oil.

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