What is olive oil?

Olive oil is a liquid obtained from olives and it is produced by pressing whole olives.

It is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing. Also, it used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has additional uses in some religions. There is limited evidence of its possible health benefits. The olive is one of three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine; the other two are wheat and grapes. Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC.

olive oil

How is the olive oil produced?

It is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical processes. Green olives usually produce more bitter oil, and overripe olives can produce oil that is rancid, so for good extra virgin olive oil care is taken to make sure the olives are perfectly ripened.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin type is the top grade of olive oil, delivering the best taste and the full health benefits of the oil. The olives are crushed at a mill and the oil is extracted via mechanical means – versus refined type extracted through the use of heat or chemicals. Most commonly the olives are crushed and the water is separated from the olive oil via centrifuge. Think of it as freshly pressed fruit juice. (Yes, olives are a fruit!)

First cold press olive oil

This outdated term is actually used mainly for marketing purposes. It’s not a required standard. It really just means the oil underwent one phase of “separation” from the olives at the mill – versus repeated separations – and no heat was involved in extracting the oil from the olives.

Pure olive oil / olive oil

Oil that’s been refined to remove any defects, and with it, is stripped of the health benefits that extra virgin type is known for. It’s typically blended with just enough extra virgin olive oil to add flavour.

Light olive oil

Though it’s made to sound as if it is, “light” olive oil is not a diet product. It’s basically the same as “pure” olive oil. It’s really light in flavour or colour – not calories or fat. In short, the term “light” has absolutely nothing to do with the quality or health benefits of the oil.

Pomace olive oil

Oil extracted from the olive pomace – the solid waste left over from the milling process. It includes olive pits, skin and flesh. The oil is made by re-milling the pomace to extract the remaining 1–5% of oil that’s left in the waste. It also can be obtained by mixing solvents into the pomace; heat is then used to extract additional oil from the pomace.

Environmental impact of olive oil production: 
Handling of olive waste is an environmental challenge because the wastewater, which amounts to more than 30 million cubic meters annually in the Mediterranean region, is not biodegradable and cannot be processed through conventional… Click To Tweet

Cold-pressed or cold extraction means “that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually 27 °C (80 °F)) during processing, thus retaining more nutrients and undergoing less degradation.

Who are the largest olive oil producers? 

All you need to know about olive oil.

How to taste an extra virgin olive oil?

The tasting of olive oil is the same as the wine tasting. The best way of tasting it is to pour 1-2 tablespoons of oil into a wineglass. Then hold the glass in one hand and cover the top of the glass with the second one. This way you will keep all the aromas inside of the glass. Hold it for 1-2 minutes until the oil warms up a bit and releases its full potential. 

How to taste extra virgin olive oil

Then gently swirl the glass, take away the hand from the top and take a good sniff. After a few moments, you will start to notice the first smells. Among the main aromas of ripe or green olives, you may smell e.g. fresh-cut grass, cinnamon or tropical fruits. 

Now take a good sip of the olive oil. The best is to cover your whole mouth and tongue so you can taste all the impressions. Slurp the liquid and get some air into your mouth. Close your mouth and breath out through your nose. Thanks to this step you will be able to feel a whole bunch of other flavor notes. Now swallow some or all of the olive oil. The swallowing is very important and you may taste some pungency in your throat. Pungency is a positive characteristic of olive oil and it is a chemical reaction like the hotness of chilies. It can be very mild or so intense that it will make you cough.

The third of the three main attributes of olive oil, in addition to fruity and pungent, is bitter. Bitterness, like pungency, is also an acquired taste. As anyone who has ever tasted an olive right off the tree can attest, bitter is a prominent taste in fresh olives.

What are the basic flavors of extra virgin olive oil?

Basic flavours of extra virgin olive oil

Which olive oil is for what type of cooking?

The extra-virgin olive oilhas full-bodied flavour. It can be used for all forms of savourycooking, including sautéing, stir-frying, roasting and marinating, and is the best choice for bread dipping and salad dressing. 

The pure olive oil or olive oil it’s typically milder than extra-virgin and more yellow in color. While not quite as high-quality as extra-virgin, it’s great for savourycooking and adds flavourand depth to a dish.

The “light” olive oil is the mildest of all the oils. It’s best for baking and savoury cooking at very high temperatures like frying for example. 

How to choose the best olive oil?

Always choose dark bottle – olive oil is very sensitive to light and heat and the dark glass prevents oxidation of the oil and protects the nutrition levels.

Select virgin or extra virgin olive oils – the EXTRA virgin oil is from the first press and has the highest grade. Also, it contains the most nutrients. As a second option choose regular virgin oil which is the next grade down. 

Origin of the olive oil– you should always pick an olive oil which is produced in a single country. 

Cold pressed– this means that the olive oil was produced without usage of any heat.

Pressing date– a good extra virgin olive oil should always have the “pressing date” so you know when it was produced.-

The 1-month rule– the olive oil does not age well, therefore you should only buy the amount which you will consume within 1 month. 

Avoid using clear glass and plastic bottles– due to the light and heat sensitivity the oils may oxidize in the bottle, thus produce more free radicals in your body. 

What are the health benefits of olive oil?

  1. Lowering the cholesterol level:

The latest studies shows that extra virgin variety can reduce the risk of heart disease. LDL cholesterol is the bad type of cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases. Extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in almost 40 antioxidant chemicals, helps reduce the oxidation effects of LDL cholesterol. It also helps increase HDL cholesterol levels.

The natural variety also contains 70% monounsaturated fatty acid. As a result, it lowers cholesterol accumulation in the blood and reduces heart problems.

2. Helps with weight loss:

Mediterranean olive oil is a superb alternative to butter or other oils as it contains a lot of healthy fats. According to some medical studies, it is very hard to gain weight from mono-unsaturated fats present in olive oil.

3. Can help in managing and preventing diabetes:

4. Olive oil is anti-inflammatory:

It is rich in polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

5. Good for digestion: 

It is known that the olive oil can help the digestive process, as it cleans the digestive tract and improve the bowel movements.

6. Reduces risk of cancer:

According to medical research done by the Oxford University olive oil can protect the human body against cancerous growth, especially bowel cancer.

7. May help protect you from hypertension: 

Unsaturated fats, nitrite, and nitrate may help protect you from hypertension.

8. Is packed with anti-oxidants:

It contains vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds, all of which are very strong antioxidants. 

Olive oil - everything you need to know. 1

What are the unusual uses of olive oil?

10 unusual uses of olive oil

  1. garden tools cleaner
  2. as an eye makeup remover
  3. skin softener
  4. as a lamp fuel
  5. it can help you to stop snoring
  6. shoe cleaner and shoe polish
  7. bath oil
  8. stainless steel shiner
  9. furniture polish
  10. hair tonic

How to make a simple apple cider vinegar salad dressing?

  • 3 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • pinch of sea salt
  • black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. You can pour it straight over your salad or keep refrigerated in a sealed container up to 4 days.

Simple apple cider vinegar salad dressing



FAQ

What is extra virgin olive oil good for? 

Extra virgin olive oil, is rich in almost 40 antioxidant chemicals and helps reduce the oxidation effects of LDL cholesterol. Also, it is good as a skin softener, you can use it as a bath oil or even as a hair tonic.

What is the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil?

The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 166°C (331°F)

Is olive oil bad for weight loss?

No, Mediterranean olive oil is a superb alternative to butter or other oils as it contains a lot of healthy fats. According to some medical studies it is very hard to gain weight from mono-unsaturated fats present in olive oil.

What are the benefits of drinking and eating olive oil?

Consuming olive oil on daily basis can prevent diabetes, it is anti-inflammatory and good for digestion, can help to reduce weight and lower the risk of cancer.

Is olive oil better than butter? 

Mediterranean olive oil is a superb alternative to butter or other oils as it contains a lot of healthy fats.

If you enjoyed this article you can check out the “all you need to know about quinoa” one too 🙂