The craft of turning olives into oil has been honed in the Mediterranean region over thousands of years, and techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. The process is truly a regional art. The method used in Greece is different from the one used in Spain, and each individual grower might have a unique way of tending the trees and producing the tasty liquid gold.
Mediterranean olive trees must mature for several years before they produce olives. Careful pruning optimizes the number of olives a single tree will bear. A meticulous hand is necessary because it takes at least ten pounds of olives to produce one liter (about four cups) of olive oil.
Drizzle it over salad or mix it into salad dressing.Use in marinades or sauces for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Oil penetrates nicely into the first few layers of the food being marinated.Add at the end of cooking for a burst of flavor.Drizzle over cooked pasta or vegetables.Use instead of butter or margarine as a healthy dip for bread. Pour a little olive oil into a small side dish and add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, which will pool in the middle and look very attractive.For an easy appetizer, toast baguette slices under the broiler, rub them lightly with a cut clove of garlic, and add a little drizzle of olive oil.Replace butter with olive oil in mashed potatoes or on baked potatoes. For the ultimate mashed potatoes, whip together cooked potatoes, roasted garlic, and olive oil; season to taste.Make a tasty, heart-healthy dip by mixing cooked white beans, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor; season to taste with your favorite herbs.Use olive oil in your sauces -- whisking will help emulsify, or blend, the watery ingredients with the oil in the sauce.
Lebanon is famous for its biblical cedars. But there are also ancient olive trees in the country that rival the cedars in age and beauty. They may or may not be as old as the Ministry of Tourism claims (4,000 B.C.), but nature's craftsmanship and the twists and turns of the wood over centuries is a metaphor for time itself.
A good extra-virgin olive oil will exhibit fruitiness; in fact, it is the minimum criterion for the IOC to consider an olive oil for the extra-virgin grade. What, exactly, is fruitiness? Simon Field, instructor for Savantes, an olive oil certification program for producers, says a fruity olive oil is "reminiscent of both the odor and taste of sound, fresh fruit" which can be "picked at its optimum stage of ripeness" but can also be reminiscent of unripe fruit, like green tomatoes, to name one example, or even a vegetable. It should, in other words, smell and taste like fresh produce.
Rich, beautiful, and fragrant, olive oil is much like wine -- taste is a matter of personal preference. The many variables that go into the production of olive oil yield dramatic differences in color, aroma, and flavor. And several names are used to differentiate all of these versions, which you'll learn about here.
The following factors impact the taste of olive oil:
Variety of olive usedLocation and soil conditions where the olives were grownEnvironmental factors and weather during the growing seasonOlive ripenessTiming of the harvestHarvesting methodLength of time between the harvest and pressingPressing techniquePackaging and storage methods
Because of olive oil's high monounsaturated fat content, it can be stored longer than most other oils -- as long as it's stored properly. Oils are fragile and need to be treated gently to preserve their healthful properties and to keep them from becoming a health hazard full of free radicals.
When choosing your storage location, remember that heat, air, and light are the enemies of oil. These elements help create free radicals, which eventually lead to excessive oxidation and rancidity in the oil that will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Even worse, oxidation and free radicals contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Tips:1. Choose oils sold in dark glass bottles, which minimize the oil's exposure to light and help keep it fresh longer.2. Try to choose an oil which has a "best by" date that is no sooner than two years from today.
3. Look for labels that talk about production from a specific mill.
The Olive Tree Museum of Vouves is ideally located next to the Monumental Olive Tree of Vouves, the oldest olive tree in the world, which is visited by approximately 20.000 people every year from all over the world.
More than twenty of the world’s experts on olive oil verification met in Madrid to discuss olive oil fraud and possible solutions.
New devices (such as electronic noses and tongues) and analytical methods (such as dynamic head-space and solid phase micro extraction analysis) capable of using the same compounds – volatiles – as human sensors could “lessen the work of sensory panels
Besides food, olive oil has been used for religious rituals, medicines, as a fuel in oil lamps, soap-making, and skin care application. The Minoans used olive oil in religious ceremonies. The oil became a principal product of the Minoan civilization, where it is thought to have represented wealth.
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