Friday, October 2, 2009

Olive Oil


Olive oil is a fruit oil obtained from the olive (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The wild olive tree originated in Asia Minor and spread from there as far as southern Africa, Australia, Japan and China. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world, but especially in the Mediterranean.

Availibility
All year round.

Extraction
Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. Green olives produce bitter oil, and overripe olives produce rancid oil, so for good extra virgin olive oil care is taken to make sure the olives are perfectly ripened.

Store it
The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 57°F or 14 degrees C, although a normal room temperature of 70ºF works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. A kitchen cabinet located away from the stove and away from direct sunlight will work quite well. If you have a wine cellar, store your olive oils there and keep a small amount in your kitchen. Do not put olive oil in a container without a tight cap.

Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended for expensive extra virgin varieties because condensation may develop in the bottle, affecting the flavor. When chilled, or in cold weather, the oil may turn cloudy and even solidify. Such oil will clear again as it warms, so cloudiness should not be taken as an indication that the oil is past its prime. Be sure bottles are tightly sealed. Refrigeration will extend the life of olive oil without harming the oil. Doing so will cause it to congeal and turn cloudy, but should not affect flavor. If refrigerated, olive oil will return to its original, liquid state when warmed to room temperature again.

Tinted glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are the best materials for containers; oil should never be stored in plastic or in reactive metals. Stay away from plastic containers as the oil can absorb PVCs.

Cook it
When cooking with olive oil, save your extra-virgin expensive oils for salads, dressings, and vinaigrettes. You can also drizzle it over slices of crusty bread or onto open-face sandwiches. Use it on a baked potato or add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish or meat before serving.

When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or a straight olive oil.

For deep frying, the olive oil grade "olive oil," is excellent because it has a higher smoke point (410º F) than virgin or extra virgin oils.

Types

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:
All olive oils that are less than 1% acidity and produced by the first pressing of the olive fruit through the cold pressing process is called extra-virgin olive oil.

Virgin Olive Oil:
It is made from olives that are slightly riper than those used in the production of extra-virgin oil. Virgin olive oil is produced in the same way, but it is essentially defective or low-grade extra virgin oil. This oil's acidity is a slightly higher level of 1 1/2%.

Refined Olive Oil:

Olive oil known as "refined olice oil" is made by refining the virgin olive oil. The final product is basically a tasteless olive oil. The acidity level is higher than 3.3%. It also has a not-to-nice flavor and an unpleasant odor.

Pure Olive Oil:
Pure olive oil, usually called just olive oil, comes either from the second cold pressing or the chemical extraction of the olive mash left over after the first pressing. This grade is also called commercial grade oil. Pure olive oil is much lighter in color and blander in taste than virgin olive oil. It is a general-purpose (all-purpose) olive oil. Pure refers to the fact that no non-olive oils are mixed in.
Refined Olive-Pomace Oil:
Oil which is obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents is refined using methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. Don't buy this grade, as it is bad for you.

Olive-Pomace Oil:
Olive oil which consists of a blend of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil. Don't buy this grade, as it is bad for you.

Light & Extra Light" Olive Oil:
The olive oil that you see on the supermarket shelf advertised as "light" or as "Extra Light" olive oil contains the exact same number of calories as regular olive oil and is a mixture of refined olive oils that are derived from the lowest quality olive oils available through chemical processing.

Recipes
Layered houmous tabbouleh feta picnic
Olive oil baked potatoes
Braised Silver Beet [Swiss Chard] with Extra Virgin Olive Oil [Moroccan Style]
White Bean, Rosemary and Garlic Mash on Toasted Sourdough with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
PAN FRIED FISH with EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Roasted Thyme Olives with Almonds
Lemon – Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

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