Whenever I meet travellers from other countries or more specifically, other continents, I am often asked about olive
oil. So here I am trying to put my knowledge about it and some information together for a common use. My experience goes back to when I was a kid and at my grandparents’ house, we used to gather as a whole family for this yearly happening, to collect these precious seeds from the trees. Here is a little guide about this tree:
Olives are very common in the Mediterranean, and have become very popular nearly everywhere in the world.
You may find them in any supermarket nowadays. But why has this growth in popularity reached almost every corner of the world?
Olives are said to be very healthy besides the fact that its flavour and scent are fresh and tasty.The trees live up to 1000 years and they don’t get very big and tall. Their seeds (olives) grow very slowly, so next time you see one, think about how old it could be.
Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. The canned black olives that you may have seen, may contain chemicals that artificially turn them black. The trees produce well every couple of years so greater harvests occur in alternate years, however, the quality is still dependent on the weather. Green olives usually produce more bitter oil, and overripe olives can produce oil that is rancid, so for good olive oil, care is taken to make sure the olives are perfectly ripened. Olive oil, in particular, has a long history of being used as a home remedy for skincare, a moisturizer, a cleanser, to prevent sports injuries, relieve muscle fatigue, and eliminate lactic acid buildup. There are even studies that say eating olive oil may lower risk of heart disease risk factors and reduce cholesterol. Delicious, yet good for health!
You may be familiar with the olive oils you find on your supermarket shelves. These olive oils are often filtered, eliminating solid particles that reduces its shelf life. But unfiltered fresh olive oil, has a different taste and a different look. With a slightly cloudy appearance, unfiltered olive oil is less processed and you can actually taste the difference, its cleaner, more natural, and much fresher. I still get the oil from the same piece of land where my grandparents used to live and that is what I use for the whole year, until the next harvest.
The classification of olive oil can be summed up in:
Extra-virgin olive oil Comes from virgin oil production only, and is of higher quality and is judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects.
Virgin olive oil Comes from virgin oil production only, but is of slightly lower quality and is judged to have a good taste.
Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin-production to give taste.
Olive pomace oil is refined paste olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil. However, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, giving it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.