HOW IS OLIVE OIL MADE ?
After the olives are hand picked, they are taken to an olive mill for processing as quickly as possible – preferably within a few hours. Leaves, twigs and debris are removed, the olives washed, and then ground into a paste using either mechanical or traditional means. The term "Cold press" or "First cold press" refer to two processes. 'Cold" refers to the fact that no heat is added during the stage of production, and "Press" refers to the traditional devices used for thousands years to press the olives.
The crushed olive paste moves to the decanting stage where a decanter machine physically spins them to separate the oil and water from solid matter. Next, the oil and water are separated from each other in a centrifuge, another mechanical process.
Finally, the resulting oil goes through chemistry and sensory analysis as outlined by the International Olive Oil Council to determine the appropriate grade of the oil.
WHAT GRADES OF OLIVE OIL ARE COMMONLY USED IN MARKET ?
Extra virgin: is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects. In chemical terms extra virgin olive oil is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than .8%.
Virgin: has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2%.
Pure: This is simply a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil.
Light: is a blend of refined olive oil and small quantity of extra virgin olive oil.
Pomace: This is the leftover of the ground olive pulp after the first pressing of higher-grade olive oils. To extract it, the pomace is pressed further or is treated with solvents. The resulting oil contains impurities, and may undergo several heating and filtering processes to refine it into an acceptable standard for human consumption.
CAN YOU COOK WITH OLIVE OIL?
Yes you can. Extra virgin olive oils are poured over everything from rice, potatoes, vegetables, and beans to meats, poultry, and fish. Olive oil has become a staple in kitchens well beyond the area of its Mediterranean roots. You can use olive oil for all of your cooking.
WHAT IS THE SMOKE POINT FOR EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
A high quality extra virgin olive oil will typically have a smoke point above 400
WHERE TO STORE OLIVE OIL?
Fresh extra virgin olive oil delivers a wonderful flavor and certain health benefits. To ensure that your olive oil maintains optimum freshness and flavor, you should store it in a cool, dark place. Light is very damaging to olive oil, as is heat. When olive oil is exposed to heat, light, and air the valuable nutrients in the oil begin to oxidize and it will begin to lose its fruit flavors. When buying extra virgin olive oil, look for tinted glass bottles.
WHAT ARE THE ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency are the three positive attributes of fresh olive oil.
Fruitiness: Having pleasant spicy fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives.
Bitterness: Creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.
Pungency: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat.
WHY OLIVE OIL IS SO HEALTHY?
Olive oil has a number of health benefits. It is one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet. As a condiment, it has a high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols (antixidants). Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, simply the healthiest fat you can have in your diet. It helps promote good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering bad cholesterol. A number of studies have also shown that olive oil may have additional beneficial effects on blood pressure and the digestive system.
How long does olive oil keep and how should it be stored?
Olive oil may keep up to two years but it is usually best when used within 18 months.
WHAT IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects. In chemical terms extra virgin olive oil is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than .8% . It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any additives, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F).
In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council. The olive oil must be found to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitiness.