SHORT GUIDE ON OLIVE OIL
In short, production of olive oil starts at the olive tree groves where, as soon as olive tree cultivators see that olives are mature, they harvest them and transport them to the olive oil mill.
At the mill the olives are separated from leaves, branches and other material and washed. The clean olives are crushed and the thus produced olive paste is stirred so that it becomes homogenous. The homogenous paste is centrifuged so that the olive oil is extracted whereby, finally, the olive oil is filtered and stored in stainless steel tanks
All through the process temperature does not exceed 27 degrees Centigrade.
REFINED – UNREFINED OILS & RELEVANT GRADING
Vast majority of the edible oils have undergone a heat and/or chemical treatment in order to become edible. That is called refining. On the contrary, olive oil is a unique oil that can be consumed raw.
Olive oil, depending on its nature and origin is classified in different trading categories.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil => Is the superior category of olive oil. Best quality olives are used, harvested just when they’re nearly matured.
The result is a very tasty, healthy and nutritious oil with very low acidity (bellow 0,8%), used as a gourmet oil for salads and healthy cooking. The oil is cold extracted (bellow 27 C) in order to preserve all its nutrient values. No preservatives or other chemical substances are used.
2. Virgin olive oil =>. It is an oil that is produced by cold extraction of olive fruits, by same processing as extra virgin olive oil. Good quality olives are used and acidity ranges from 0,8 to 2%.
3. Refined olive oil: It is produced from “lampante” olive oil which is derived from “second grade” olives by cold extraction. Off odors and excess acidity is removed afterwards by means of heat and/or chemical treatment called refining. Refined olive oil is not traded in consumer packages, it is sold only in bulk containers.
4. Olive oil => Is a blend of extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. A light taste olive oil, having the benefits of an oil rich in monounsaturated fats, good and healthy alternative for use of those who prefer light tasting and as a cooking oil.
5. Refined Olive Pomace oil => Is an oil derived from the heat and chemical treatment (solvent extraction and refining) of olive pomace, which is the by-product of olive oil milling and extraction. Refined olive pomace oil is not a traded in consumer packages, it is sold only in bulk containers.
6. Olive Pomace oil => Is a blend of refined olive pomace oil and virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Having the same fatty acids profile as olive oil, is a better alternative to seed oils for frying and cooking. (IOC does not allow such oil to be called olive oil)
7. Blended olive oils => refer to blending various qualities of oil (either from different seeds (e.g. sunflower with olive oil) or origins (e.g. from different countries) or produced from different olive varieties (e.g. Koroneiki with Manaki), etc).
TASTE CHARACTERISTICS OF OLIVE OIL
Extra virgin olive oil, as being produced only by mechanical means with no heat and chemical treatments retains all the taste and flavor characteristics of the olive fruit. That’s why it gives to the dishes used, special aromas which makes it a unique component of gourmet kitchen.
As a pure juice of nature, is graded by taste experts depending on its organoleptic attributes. Extra virgin olive oil should not have any taste and odor defects. The positive characteristics found are:
1. Pungent = peppery feeling all around mouth and throat
2. Bitter = pleasant bitter taste on tongue
3. Fruity = spicy and fruity olive flavor and aromas
TASTING OLIVE OIL
Special taste and flavors of olive oil depend on a big number of parameters such as soil of groves, growing conditions of trees, ripeness of harvested olives fruits, handling of harvested olive fruits, crop maintenance, milling conditions, bottling
The best taste test though is to
follow the following process and ask yourself on the tastes, aromas, etc that you sense, thus reaching a conclusion on the best fit to your palate.
1. POUR A SMALL CUP
2. COVER AND STIR
3. INHALE AROMAS
4. TAKE A SIP WITH AIR AND TASTE
WHY IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL CRUCIAL FOR HEALTH?
Fats in diets? Fats in the diet are highly controversial. To that one could see people arguing about animal fats, seed oils and almost everything in between. But one of the few fats that most people agree is healthy is extra virgin olive oil which is extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities like taste and smell.
Which fats are bad for health? Two types of fat are considered not being good for health. These are saturated fat, which increase cholesterol levels and promote arteries clogging and oxidized fat. Easily oxidized fats are those rich in poly-unsaturates like most seed oils.
Which fats are good for health? Unsaturated fats are considered to be beneficial to health, having the opposite effects to poly-saturated fats. It should strongly be noted that the majority of fatty acids present in olive oil are mono-unsaturated ones (oleic acid). Replacing saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated ones contributes to the maintenance of a good health.
Mono-saturated fats in olive oils: olive oil contains a big number of antioxidants, basically polyphenols. Various polyphenols contained in extra virgin olive oil help to prevent diseases related to oxidative stress, while they are characterized by their very important anti-inflammatory properties.
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation is among the most important drivers of many diseases like heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
Specific health beneficial effects of olive oil: Just to mention a few of the beneficial effects of Extra Virgin Olive oil
• Heart diseases => proven to prevent LDL oxidation, reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure and helps to improve endothelial function.
• Cancer => Is believed to be related to oxidative damage through free radicals mechanisms. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols and oleocanthal contained in olive oil help to prevent these mechanisms.
• Anti-aging => Olive oil is a source of natural fatty acids and vitamins, that are considered great for sensitive skins, avoidance of wrinkles, skin elasticity but, above all, of the antioxidant ingredients which act as an anti-aging factor.
Which olive oil is the most health beneficial? Extra Virgin Olive Oil, part of the Mediterranean diet, is a traditional fat that has been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations. A number of research results and studies indicate strong beneficial health effects of olive oil especially due to the fatty acids and phenolic antioxidants in it.
Refined or “light” olive oils, which have often been extracted with solvents, treated with heat or even diluted with cheaper oils like soybean and canola oils are not so beneficial to health.
For this reason, the only strongly health promoting oil is extra virgin olive oil.
OLIVE OIL PACKAGING AND STORAGE
Oxygen, moisture and metal traces stimulate oxidation of olive oil which downgrades its quality, whereby such oxidation is accelerated in the presence of light.
Because of that oxidation will exists if:
1. Packaging is not in dark or non-transparent containers. That is why dark glass bottles, tins, etc are normally used as containers of olive oil….
2. If there is dissolution of substances (especially iron and copper) i.e. from improper containers and handling equipment into olive oil.
3. There is humidity contacting olive oil (e.g. in a humid closet where olive oil container is not sealed).
4. If the olive oil container material is porous (e.g. bad quality plastic containers) since oxygen will penetrate through the pores.
5. If olive oil container is of big quantity and is often opened (solution would be that the large quantity container is opened and a larger quantity of olive oil is transferred into a smaller container for everyday use)
In conclusion, for best preservation, olive oil should be kept away from heat and light and in sealed containers to prevent oxygen entrainment.
Final Note = does olive oil freeze? Because of its composition, it is not unusual that olive oil becomes cloudy if exposed to very low temperatures. This is perfectly normal, does not affect its quality and does not destroy its nutritional value – all you should do is leave it to return to room temperature.