About Olive Oil

Posted by Theodoros 01/08/2017 0 Comment(s)

OLIVE OIL

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History

 

Olive oil is produced from the blessed fruit of Greek land, the olive tree that was the symbol of the goddess Athena and has been known since the ancient times

Olive oil or "golden liquid," according to Homer, in antiquity was not just a food but was a symbol of health and strength, medicine, as well as a source of magic and admiration.

Specifically, in ancient Greece, athletes fired it all over their body because they believed it would give them power and luck, and the warriors smelled the heads of the nobles and dropped drops on the bones of dead saints and witnesses as it was an emblem Sanctification and purity.

The olive tree is a blessed tree that thrives in the rocky and barren area of the Mediterranean. It produces fruit under adverse conditions of drought, strong winds and high temperatures, while its longevity and productivity has written the history of the Mediterranean peoples. The olive tree enlightened, nurtured, healed, crowned, groomed and identified with high ideals while inspiring the long-standing culture of the Eastern Mediterranean.

A symbol of knowledge, wisdom, abundance, peace, health, strength and beauty has been worshiped for thousands of years. It is a living part of a heavy cultural heritage, with legends, traditions and religious rituals inextricably linked to flowering, harvesting and producing olive oil.

Our olive tree bequeathed an extremely complex bequest of values, prosperity and culture, which we have just recently been able to evaluate and defend.

The tree

The domesticated olive tree originates from the eastern Mediterranean basin. It adapts to long-lasting dry and warm summers and shows extreme resistance at temperatures often reaching 0 ° C.

In the Mediterranean area, the olive trees are blossoming at the end of Spring (from April to May), and the harvest begins from the end of November and ends in February for the most southern regions.

Olive oil

Olive oil is the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree with mechanical means and natural processing, while the temperature and lighting do not alter its composition. Olive oil is a completely natural product that can be consumed once the pickup process has been completed. It is divided by the body by 98% while it yields the same number of calories as all the other vegetable oils that are 9.3 for each gram.

It is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Fat sources are all fats and butter, of animal and plant origin. Vegetable fats contain more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and are thought to be good for the body and health, and do not contain any cholesterol. Unlike animal fats containing a large number of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, they pose a health and body risk.

 

Why choose Greek extra virgin olive oil?

 

1) 80 percent of Greek olive oil production is extra virgin olive oil, the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification.

2) The small size of the olive groves allows for special care and devotion by the producer.

3) Research indicates that Greek olive oil contains more polyphenols (antioxidants) than extra virgin oils of other origins.

4) All Greek exporting companies use certified bottling producers, they have modern infrastructure, and employ a yell killed labor force.

5) Processing and bottling adhere to strict quality control and product safety procedures   and criteria.

6) The olive fruit spends gm storage the minimum possible time before pressing. This way the olive oil produced keeps all of its special organoleptic characteristics.

7) The most appropriate harvesting techniques are used, and the degree of ripeness of the fruit is always taken into account.

8) Greece offers the ultimate biotope for cultivating the olive tree. Greek cultivars have developed distinct characteristics that make their olive oil stand out.

Surely the question that everybody would like to raise at this point is “what is the reason that Greek virgin olive oil stands out for its quality, its aroma, its flavor, its color?”. The answer derives from a simple referral to the factors that influence the quality of olive oil.

Assortment of olive trees

Greece has a variety of unique olive trees, such as the Koroneiki, that do not exist in other oil producing countries. This particular variety, which gives olive oil of exceptional quality, is harvested in the well-known regions of Greece, such as Crete, the Peloponnese, Zakynthos, etc.

Climatic conditions – Soil

The chemical synthesis of the soil, as well as the climatic conditions, comprise vital factors for the organoleptic characteristics of the olive oil. The rocky and arid soil of Greece together with its ideal climatic conditions for olive oil (mild temperate climate, a lot of sunlight, and temperatures without great fluctuations), contribute to the production of excellent quality olive oil.

Harvesting and prompt cold pressing of the olive fruit

The basic characteristic of olive cultivation in Greece is the small family plot, which means that there is a special relationship with the olive tree that in the end is expressed in the production of olive oil of excellent quality. The olive tree provides occupation and income for more than 500,000 Greek families all over the country. This means that respect, special care and attention are paid to the olive tree.

To this end the gathering of the olive fruit is done the minute the fruit is at the suitable stage of ripening in order to give the best quality of olive oil. The gathering is done with special care, in most cases by hand (in spite of the fact that this way is laborious, time-consuming and consequently costlier) so that the fruit is not damaged, thus securing that the quality of the olive oil is not affected,

The transportation of the olive fruit to the olive mill and its cold pressing for the production of olive oil is typically carried out in a very short time after harvesting, a fact that secures an excellent, high quality, product.

These facts (i.e. prompt and careful harvesting, fast transport to the mill, immediate cold pressing at the mill) are pivotal factors securing the high quality of Greek Olive Oils.

 

The recommendation

Olive oil has a low content of saturated fatty acids and a high content of monounsaturated. On average, it is calculated to consist of 14% saturated fat, 11% polyunsaturated and 60-80% oleic acid. It also contains polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamin E, provitamin A, minerals and trace elements. All these microelements function as antioxidants, both for the body and for the "body" of olive oil. Antioxidants protect the body against damage from oxidation of free radicals while at the same time convert the olive oil itself into a durable product protecting it from oxidation (phlegm).

 

The color

Color, while not being the main feature of evaluation, may reveal - to an expert - the degree of ripening of the olives prior to their harvest, the way of molding and the way olive oil is obtained, provided they are aware of the climatic conditions and the composition Of the soil of the olive trees.

The color of olive oil varies from deep green to gold, with many intermediate shades. This depends on the fruit from which the oil comes. If the fruit is harvested at the beginning of the harvest, then the chlorophyll dominates and the color of the oil will be green, if the fruit is matured, then the carotenes will dominate, and they will give oil with golden shades.

Olive oil qualities

The qualitative evaluation of olive oil is based on international standards based on the way of production, the degree of acidity and the basic organoleptic characteristics that have the main reason: taste, aroma and color.

The aroma, flavor and color of olive oil are not processed products but results of the cultivation method and the variety of the olive. From place to place, olive oil changes as it is affected by both climatic conditions and soil quality. Of course, the process of harvesting, pressing and storing is important, as they can affect the final texture of the olive oil.

The unique fruity flavor and the peppery smell of olive oil make the olive oil the best of its kind, which, according to its acidity, has a mild or dynamic character.

About Olive oil

 

Olive oil is the pure oil obtained from the fruit of olive trees. No oil obtained using solvents, re-esterification processes, or mixed with other vegetable oils qualifies under this description.

There are many different kinds of olive varieties from which oil can be produced, and each brings a unique flavor and quality to the oil. While some olive oil is made by blending different olive varieties together, mono-varietals or monocultivar olive oils, are made using just one. It is the variety of olive, along with the maturity of the fruit, that contributes most to the flavor of the oil.

Olive oils described as ‘virgin’ are those that have been obtained from the original fruit without having been synthetically treated. Once the olives have been picked, pressed, and washed, no other process has taken place other than decantation, and centrifugation to extract the oil, and filtration.
The best quality of olive oil available is described as ‘extra virgin’.

 

Extra virgin

Extra virgin is the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil classification. In chemical terms, it is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and a peroxide value of less than 20 milliequivalent O2. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F, 30°C). In fact, the term “virgin”, is what the word means. “Untouched”.

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.

Since extra virgin olive oil is simply pressed fruit juice without additives, the factors influencing its quality and taste encompass the countless decisions, ethics and skills of the producer, and the terroirs itself.

Olive oil tasters describe the positive attributes are described in the following terms:

Fruity: Having pleasant spicy fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives. Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral. Green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies by the variety of olive.

Bitter: Creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.

Pungent: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat.

Anyone coming from the Mediterranean region would tell you about the health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavour, of a good dose of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on salads, pasta, fish and almost anything else.
Fortunately, it is available throughout the year to satisfy taste buds and promote good health. 
Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives (the fruit of the olive tree). The fact that olives are rich in oil is reflected in the botanical name of the olive tree - Olea europea - since the word "oleum" means oil in Latin. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavour and most antioxidant benefits. 
    

 

Tasting Olive Oil

The aromas of olive oil are a critical part of its flavor. Pour a little bit of extra virgin olive oil into a small glass. Hold it, swirl it, warm it for a minute or two. Then put your nose in the glass and take in the aroma or “nose” of the olive oil. You may notice the smell of fresh-cut grass, cinnamon, tropical fruits or other aromas of ripe or green olive fruit.

Now take a sip. You want to get the impressions of the entire mouth. Suck air through the oil to coax more aromas out of it, and then — this is important — close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. This “retro nasal” perception will give you a whole bunch of other flavor notes.

Retro nasal perception is possible because your mouth connects to your nose in the back. Now swallow some, or all of the olive oil.

Pungency is a peppery sensation, detected in the throat, and a positive characteristic of olive oil. It is a chemical irritation, like the hotness of chilies, and equally appealing once you get used to it. Pungency can be very mild—just the tiniest tingle—or it can be intense enough to make you cough. Olive oil aficionados will sometimes refer to a one, two, or look out, a three-cough oil.

The third positive attribute 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. Since olive oil is made from uncured olives, varying degrees of bitterness can be found; oil made from riper fruit will have little to no bitterness, oil made from greener fruit can be distinctly bitter. American taste horizons are broadening; we are exploring bitterness with foods like dark chocolate, bitter salad greens and now, robust olive oils.

The fruity characteristics you may notice in the mouth include nutty, buttery and other ripe flavors, and a fuller spectrum of green fruity notes. The traditional palate cleanser between olive oils, is water, plain or sparkling, and slices of Granny Smith apple.

 

Storing Olive Oil

Fresh extra virgin olive oil delivers a wonderful flavor and legendary health benefits. To ensure that your olive oil maintains optimum freshness and flavor, there are a few things you can do to store it properly.

Avoid Heat, Light, and Air

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 those packaged in opaque or tinted glass. Or, try pouring olive oil into a clean used red wine bottle equipped with a spout. Do not store olive oil in plastic containers, as the oil can leach harmful substances out of the plastic.

Store your olive oil in a kitchen cabinet or another cool, dark location such as a basement or wine cellar. Keep a small container of olive oil within easy reach, and the rest of your supply tucked away to avoid repeated exposure to air. Make sure the lids of your containers fit tightly, and never store olive oil next to the stove, where it will invariably be exposed to heat.

Don’t Store Olive Oil Too Long

Olive oil should be consumed within two years of pressing. Any longer, and the flavors deteriorate and the nutrients degrade. Every month that olive oil ages, the acidity levels increase, a result of oxidization. Extra-virgin olive oils have the potential to last longer than other grades because they have a lower acidity. Buy your olive oil fresh from a supplier, or specialty retailer with high turnover. Pick a bottle from the back of the shelf where it has been shielded from harsh lights. Check the date of pressing if there is one, and abide by expiration dates. Maybe most importantly, use extra virgin olive oil liberally. You’ll have a healthier diet and your supply will always be fresh.

 

GREEK OLIVE VARIETIES

In Greece, there are several varieties of olive trees. Among others, the most popular and most common are Koroneiki, Ladolia, Manaki, Athinolia (Tsounati) also Throuba, Konservolia etc. During the stages of maturity, olive fruit changes color from green to violet and then black.
Olive Oil taste characteristics depend on which stage of ripeness olive fruits are been collected. Olive Oil coming from green to violet olive fruits contains large amounts of phenolic and aromatic compounds and has intensive fruity and herbal taste (Koroneiki and Athinolia variety).
On the other hand, as the fruit becomes riper the amounts of phenolic and aromatic compounds are getting lower. The taste of olive oil that comes from violet to black fruits is softer and its aroma reminds ripe fruits like apple, tomatoes and sometimes almonds (Ladolia and Manaki variety).

 

Koroneiki
This is the most popular variety in Greece. The 60% of the total Greek production is Koroneiki. It has a small size and matures relatively from early October to December. Its weight is from 0.3 to 1.0 grams and its length from 12 to 15 millimeters. Although the fact that Koroneiki tree needs minor attention and can stand low temperature during the winter, it gives the finest olive oil comparing to other varieties.

 

Athinolia
This variety matures slowly and its collection is from end of December till beginning of January. Its fruit has medium size with an oval shape. Its weight is from 2.2 till 2.9 grams, and its length can vary from 7.5 to 25 millimeters. Olive oil from Athinolia is of excellent quality with a rather low viscosity.

 

Ladolia (Tsounati)
It is a variety which gives flowers from end of April till end of May. Its fruits mature end of October till end of November. The size of the fruit is rather small with dimensions of 10 to 16 millimeters and it has an average weight of 1.2 grams.

 

Kalamon
This variety is of medium hardiness. The fruit mature ripens between December and January. it is harvested when it has undergone full color change. It has elongated and asymmetric shape where its weight is quite high. It is moderately resistant to cold and sensitive to excessively hot climates. It is the most famous table olive around the world.

 

Amphissis
This variety is of medium hardiness and it has a medium rooting ability. Mature and harvest date depends on the end use of the fruit. It has an ovoid shape. Due to the fact that it has a medium content of good quality olive oil it is mostly used as table oil or olive spread. It is resistant to cold and olive knot whereas it is sensitive to verticillium wilt and moderately sensitive to dry climates.

 

Chalkidikis
This variety is also of medium hardiness as Kalamon. The fruit mature early and its harvest is being done during November and December. This olive fruit doesn’t turn complete black when it reaches maturity. It has an elongated and asymmetric shape where its weight is quite high. It is resistant to drought and cold.

 

Manaki
This variety also matures slowly and the best time for harvesting is from end of January till beginning of February. The fruit has average dimensions with an oval shape. Its weight varies from 2.2 to 2.9 grams. What characterizes Manaki tree is that it can resist to high altitudes, where other varieties, except Athinolia, cannot thrive.

 

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

 

The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day. At present, it is believed that in addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil is also effective in fighting against diseases such as:

Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.
Occident Stress: Olive oil contains antioxidants such as Vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds which also help lead to long life.
Cancer: Studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumors (breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract…). A number of research studies have documented that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could considerably lower cancer incidence.
Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.
Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.
Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.

 

Olive Oil and Skin Care

Since ancient times olive oil has been used as a way to moisturize and help rejuvenate damaged skin.

As we age our skin deteriorates and its inner and outer layers (dermis and epidermis) grow much thinner. The stresses and strains of aging also cause the skin to lose elasticity, which soon becomes noticeable as wrinkles. External factors, such as the sun’s rays can also speed up the aging process by generating what are called ‘free radicals’. The good news is that it’s possible to reduce the damage done to cells by using ‘inhibitors’ that lower the risk. There are many creams and lotions on the market that can help with this but if you’re looking for a natural ‘inhibitor’, you need look no further than olive oil, which has a lipid profile very close to that of human skin.

Olive oil has a large proportion of vitamins A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E, which is a key source of protein needed in the fight against free radicals. This makes olive oil particularly helpful in the fight against skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and seborrheic eczemas.

More generally, olive oil can be used daily to improve the condition of skin in the following ways:

As an exfoliator: Mixing olive oil with sea salt and massaging into an affected area helps remove dead skin and enrich the healthier layers below it. Adding oil to a bath also helps moisturize the whole body.
In nail and cuticle care: Extra virgin olive oil is a simple solution for dry nails and cuticles. By rubbing a few drops into the cuticle area and around the nail, cuticles stay moist, and nails respond with a natural shine.
As an eye makeup remover: A drop or two of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton pad helps to gently and effectively remove eye makeup without irritating the delicate skin. Olive oil also helps to smooth wrinkles that can form around the eyes.

 

SOURCES Apostolos (Paul) K. Kiritsakis: Olive Oil, From the Tree to the Table, Second Edition Tous, J. and L. Ferguson. 1996. Mediterranean fruits. p. 416-430. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Arlington, VA.   Goulart (1980); Sawaya et al. (1983); Fernandez Diez (1983); IBPGR (1986); Morton (1987); Cantwell (1994). Guido Costa: A great discussion of olive oil chemistry by Guido Costa in simple terms. PP oil source