For Those That Are Interested...

Olive oil.

Olive oil is good for you.

It is said that consuming two tablespoons of olive oil per day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Of all the cooking oils commonly available in the grocery store, olive oil is one of the richest sources of monunsaturated fats that have shown to help produce the level of low density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol that cause deposits on the walls of blood vessels.

You can replace one teaspoon of butter or margarine called for in a recipe with 3/4 teaspoon olive oil; one tablespoon of butter or margarine with 2 1/4 teaspoons of olive oil and a quarter cup of the butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

NOTE: BAKING RESULTS DO VARY WHEN SUBSTITUTING A LIQUID FAT FOR A SOLID ONE.

Although Italy and Spain are still the largest exporters of olive oil, North Africa, Israel, California, New Zealand, Australia and even Texas are making it. In a few years it is predicted that Argentina will also be exporting the oil.

Each country that produces olive oil produces a different taste.


Differences Between Virgin and
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive Oil Grading and Classification

“Virgin olive oil” denotes oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other means that cause no alteration or deterioration of the oil.

No heat, no chemical interaction, no solvents, no radiation, no microwaves!

Therefore, the oil must not have been subjected to any treatment other than that of mechanical expeller pressure, washing, centrifugation, and filtration.
The best oils, those called “extra-virgin,” are cold-pressed, a chemical-free process that involves only pressure, which produces a natural level of low acidity.

Climate, soil, variety of olive tree and time of harvest account for the different organoleptic properties of different olive oils. “Organoleptic” properties refers to the oil’s the flavor, bouquet and color. The term comes from the Greek organon (tool) and leptos (fine), and usually refers to the instant when all the senses are employed in a food’s assessment.

Differences Between Extra-Virgin,
Fine Virgin, and Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oils must have an acidity of less than 1 percent. The organoleptic properties must rate at least 6.5 on an Italian tasting panel’s scale of 1 to 10. Virgin olive oils, on the other hand, may have an acidity between 1 and 2 percent. Its organoleptic values must score 5.5 or higher. There are other requirements for each of these designations, as well.

* Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is virgin olive oil that has a minimum organoleptic rating of 6.5 out of 10, and low acidity under 1%. It is the oil of the highest quality, and boasts a perfect, fruity taste, and with a color that can range from crystalline champagne to greenish-golden to bright green. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil can be used in endless ways in the kitchen, and in Italy it has been a traditional ingredient in everything from antipasti to desserts. It is best used raw in salads, in order to enjoy its real flavor. Because of the time-consuming process required to manufacture extra-virgin oil, and its limited production volume, true extra-virgin olive oils are expensive. Thus, any inexpensive olive oil labeled "extra-virgin" is probably not authentic.

* Beneath Extra-Virgin Olive Oil comes Fine Virgin Olive Oil. Like virgin oil, it is also cold-pressed. It has an organoleptic rating of 5.5 or more and an acidity of max 1.5 percent. Quality oils are obtained when the olives are crushed as quickly as possible, since any storage would trigger a fermentation process in the fruit, making the oil produced increasingly acidic and undesirable in both flavor and aroma.

* Semi-Fine or Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil is another virgin olive oil. It only has an organoleptic rating of 3.5 or more and acidity of max 3.3 percent. When properly processed, Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil maintains the purity of the fruit's flavor, aroma, and vitamins. The International Olive Oil Institute recommends using pure olive oil for frying, since the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil tends to break down at frying temperatures.

Testing to Determine Whether an Olive Oil is Extra-Virgin

Place a small quantity of the oil in a glass bowl and refrigerate it for a few days. If it becomes crystalline, the chances are good that it is a true extra-virgin olive oil. If it forms a block, it is most likely chemically refined oil that has had some first-pressed oil added to it.


There are hundreds of extra-virgin olive oils on the market from different Italian regions, and most of them are quite good. But how do we choose one bottle over another? How many of us are buying a product because of its price or packaging rather than its content? Labels can say anything at all, and are often misleading embellishments or outright false statements.

Price
Often price is a determining factor in our willingness or reticence to buy a particular olive oil. There are cases in which a consumer pays a higher price only for the packaging, not for the oil’s quality. While generally price is an indication of quality, it is not an absolute measure. It is important to remember that olive oil is a product of nature, so it follows the rule that mass production cannot reduce the cost unless it also reduces the quality.

Season
Olives picked early in the season yield a fruity olive oil; olives picked in the middle of the season yield an olive with harmonic flavor; and olives harvested late in the season yield a gentle olive oil. Some of us prefer fruity olive oils, others are partial to milder ones. There is no right or wrong: The only thing that matters is quality.

Of course different olive oils are better suited to different dishes, so that a fruity olive oil on a steamed fish might be a little excessive, and a mild olive oil on a sauté redolent with garlic would be overshadowed.

Storing
Olive oil should be stored in a closed container, away from heat or light. Correctly stored, good oil has a shelf life of 12 to 18 months. You do not need to store oil in the refrigerator. However, if you do, it should still be fine?just leave it at room temperature for half an hour, and it will return to its previous consistency.


OLIVE OIL STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS.

SUNLIGHT. Keep at dark for storage, avoiding any exposure to direct sun light.

HEAT. Optimum storage temperature is +18 °C to +20 °C (+64 °F to +68 °F). Refrigerating or freezing does not harm any type of olive oil. But olive oil expands about 2-4 % by refrigeration or freezing and may shatter the glass bottle if bottle head space is not sufficient to compensate the expansion.
Refrigeration or ambient temperatures less than +15 °C (+59 °F) may causes partial crystallization at extra virgin type olive oils. Crystallization effect is less in blends of refined olive oils.
This effect is harmless and when olive oil container stored at room temperature of maximum +25 °C (+77 ° F), when olive oil temperature exceeds +16 °C (+60 °F), olive oil crystallization disappears and returns to golden clear color without any quality loss.
Virgin and Extra Virgin Oils must never exceed +25 °C (+77 °F). Otherwise nutritionally valuable vitamin E is degraded.

AIR. Oxygen inside air may cause olive oil to become rancid. This starts from the top surface where air exposure is continuous. This the reason the necks of the bottles are narrow, surface exposed to air is minimized. When the rest of container will not be used, say within a month, it is better to transfer the olive oil to a smaller container and fill till to half neck and seal the lid tightly to prevent air penetration.

FOREIGN ODOURS. Olive oil easily absorbs foreign odours and smells carried by air. You must keep olive oil in a tightly sealable container and tightly seal the container after every use and stow away from synthetic or natural odours, fuels, chemicals, exhaust gases, organic debris, etc.