As expected, there are quite the misconceptions regarding olive oil. When welcoming people, we hear a lot of things which are far from truth, or are wrong understandings of knowledge.

So here, we’ll some frequently asked questions / statements regarding olive oil, and correct where necessary:

  • Olive oil lives better and longer in the refrigerator.

False. Olive Oil crystalizes at approximately +7 ⁰c / +44.5 ⁰F of and we don’t shield from its worst enemy; oxygen. Also, the excess humidity of older refrigerators deteriorates the quality of olive oil.

  • Put the olive oil in the refrigerator. If it doesn’t freeze, it’s not good.

False.  Freezing is not a proof of quality. Canola oil, sunflower oil and other refined vegetable fats will also freeze in the refrigerator.

  • Is there Light Olive Oil?

There is no such thing as “light olive oil”. All vegetable oils have the same calorific value of 9 calories/grammar. Some companies might actually sell an “Light Olive Oil”, but this refer to taste.

  • Is olive oil suitable for vegans?

Yes. Olive oil is essentially the juice of olives.

  • If I start consuming olive oil will I become healthier and live forever?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle with lots of physical activity together with a healthy and proper nutrition plan with olive oil as the main source of fat, yes, we’ll see you quite the times around.

  • Handpicked olives produce better olive oil than mechanically collected.

False. What helps farmers deliver their fruit to the olive mill in the best conditions is respect, passion and green conscience. Some popular methods of collecting are:

             HANDPICKING

Olives are picked without any mechanical means, by plucking them straight from the tree, or with combs and rakes. This method leaves the fruits perfectly undamaged, which is essential to keep the olives in optimal condition, but requires a lot of labor.

BEATING

Using a T shaped stick with rotating ends, olives are beaten of the branches and fall on nets laid on the ground. Most widely used method in Creta.

SHAKING

The tree is “hugged” by the trunk and is shaken by an agriculture machine. Olives then fall on nets laid out on the ground.

MECHANICAL

Large agricultural machines go over the tree, and with proper mecahnisms collect all fruit which is instantly defoliated and put on a following truck to leave for the olive mill. Requires very precise pruning and cultivation and large plains to be a financially viable cultivation.

  • Variety <xxxx> produces the best olive oil OR Variety <xxxx> produces only bad olive oil.

Good olive oil requires proper cultivation methods, dedication to the process and passion. Each olive variety has its own traits and characteristics, and similar to grape varieties, in the hands of skilled people in the olive mills all varieties can produce wonders.

  • What variety are black olives?

Color is not an indication of variety, it is a stage of ripeness of the fruit. All varieties will start in a deep emerald color and depending on many factors will end in a black, iodine, purple, deep blue, etc. color.

  • Unfiltered Olive Oil is more nutrient.

False. The main argument is that through filtering we lose some antioxidants. Seeing this commercially, the consumer will be able to buy unfiltered olive at least after 30 days from its production. This means we have already lost these possible extras, plus the residue that will start forming in the bottom is as bad for the olive oil as oxygen and light are. Filtering on the other hand keeps all final solid parts and moisture away from olive oil and helps it reach the maximum of its lifetime.

  • First cold press is the best olive oil.

False. Actually, “first cold pressing” refers to oils obtained by a pre-industrial traditional pressure extraction system, where edible oil comes from the first pressing. It is actually obsolete, as olives no longer undergo multiple extractions. Moreover, a traditional pressure extraction system today yields oil that is, at best, average quality: the best quality oils are obtained from modern centrifugation systems. And before an argument is raised, we define “best quality” by looking the winners in olive oil competitions around the world.

Finally, cold extraction/press only guarantees that temperature did not go above 27⁰c at any part of the process. We still require good olives to yield a good quality.

  • Always buy green color olive oil.

False. Color is not an indication of quality. The fact that you can actually see the color of the olive oil means it is in a transparent container, so avoid it.

  • I bought Extra Virgin Olive Oil on sales, but it is near its past before date. Did I lose my money?

Not quite. When extra virgin olive oil goes past its before date, it falls off category statement, so it has to return to the selling for rebottling under proper category statement or for refining. It is not hazardous for your health, so taste it and if it is not completely off, you can use it for roasting, making sauces/dips/etc, infuse with herbs, etc.

 

This is a growing list, so expect to see news entries!

Supposedly you walk into a market to buy olive oil. You go to the designated shelf and see many brands, sizes and bottles. How do you choose?

In this article, we will go through some common knowledge, offer some insight and learn how to read the label and through the label.

Before buying it is good to take some things in consideration:

  • Starting from the very beginning, the container itself is vital. Avoid transparent glass because it doesn’t shield olive oil from light, olive oil’s enemy. Choose a dark glass bottle or a tin can, stored in a shelf without access to direct sunlight.
  • Next is category. As a philosophy, we choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil, since it always has the best price to quality ratio. There would be a point in buying lesser categories if you lived in Greece which is a producing country and you consumed in average 20 ltr per person per year. For categories see here. And yes, you can fry with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Following is the extraction method. There are two possible options here:
  • Cold press / First cold press : Is the method requiring grinding stones, a hydraulic press and a vertical separator
  • Cold extraction: is a modern method in which olive oil is separated with the use of centrifugal force.

It is best to pick cold extracted olive oils since this is the industry standard and is comparably superior to pressing in most of examined aspects.

  • Then, we go to origin. Before choosing, it is good to remember that no country can claim to produce the best olive oil. Good olive oil comes from areas inside countries. An area which produces high quality Extra Virgin Olive oil is Apokoronas, where our village of Tsivaras is situated. But how can someone know these areas?

All these areas are designated under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. All origin claims must go back to these areas in order to have any significance. “Produced in <Country>” isn’t a locality claim, since E.U. legislation allows European companies to import olive oil from an E.U. country and, after proper categorization, can be sold as native to the bottling company. This applies to all E.U. countries, both as sellers and as importers.

PDO and PGI cannot be tampered, are fraud-proof and they are the only safe way to properly understand where your olive oil is from.

  • Finally, the most expensive isn’t the best. Something recommended would be to choose a label, try it, then another, etc. until you have a small knowledge of brands, varieties and areas and be able to easy pick a label!

After buying it, storage is still important. We try to protect olive oil from its enemies:

  • Light: As stated above, we pick properly our olive oil from the store. In our home, we store it in a place with no sunlight access.
  • Air: Oxygen in air reacts with olive oil and oxidizes it. This means that olive oil will lose its characteristics faster than expect (as stated in best before date). To prevent this, first we choose the amount we expect to consume within 1-2 months and second we close the cap after each use tightly.
  • Time: as stated above, always choose the amount you plan to consume within 1-2 months. However, it is a fact that bigger amounts get better prices, so if you buy a quantity not expected to consume so quickly, remember to store in a dry, dark and cool place.
  • Temperature: Olive oil doesn’t really like heat or cold. The best temperature for storing olive is between 15⁰c - 20⁰c and away from quick temperature changes, like near an oven. Remember, store in a dry, dark and cool place. Putting olive oil in the refrigerator will not really help it somehow and it will crystalize, which will make it difficult to use.

 

As mentioned in earlier links, olive oil has quite the advantages against other vegetable fats. The big questions are:

  • Can I substitute any fat and butter with olive oil?
  • What about calories, nutrients etc?
  • Does flavor change?
  • Does olive oil alter the overall recipe and final result?
  • How much for how much?
  • Let’s see these questions in total!

Any vegetable fat can be substituted with another. You can go from butter to Extra Virgin Olive Oil and back. All vegetable fats have the same amount of calories which is 9.3 cal/ml. Their difference is the composition of the fat in use, and particularly the concentration of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans fats as well as cholesterol and salt.

Comparing, we try to choose the healthiest from all options available and Extra Virgin Olive Oil is always on top ranks!

 

How to Substitute

Butter is made of milk solids and water, so we can’t do an even substitution. The simple guideline in amount conversion is that we use 25% less olive oil than the required butter in the recipe. For example 1 teaspoon butter will be ¾ of the teaspoon if olive oil is used.  If we try to substitute in an even amount, the final outcome will be greasy and “oily”.

If the recipe requires some kind of vegetable oil, we can substitute evenly.

Here is a conversion table:

  • Butter -> Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon = ¾ teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon = 2-1/4 teaspoons
  • ¼ cup = 3 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup = ¼ cup
  • ½ cup = ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons
  • 2/3 cup = ½ cup
  • ¾ cup = ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup = ¾ cup

And a unit conversion table:

  • 1 teaspoon = 5ml = 0.16 fl. Oz
  • 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons = 15ml = 0.5 fl. Oz
  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons = 240ml = 8 fl. oz

So now you know that you can easily leave butter back in the fridge and use olive oil for:

  • Sautéing
  • Frying
  • Deep frying
  • Use in baking
  • Making brownies, cookies and muffins
  • Use instead of melted butter, but alone(*)

And whenever you feel like to, of course!

 

When NOT to Substitute

Some recipes and techniques cannot have olive oil. For example, we don’t use olive oil in:

  • Wok and stir frying. The wok’s temperature will raise the temperature too high for olive oil and it will “steam” the food instead of searing it.
  • Creaming butter. (*) Using melted butter with sugar or icing sugar gives the pleasant light texture in cakes or creams. Olive oil which is highly aromatic will give us a “vegetable” taste in the pastry which is not so pleasant.

 

Sources:

International Olive Oil Council: http://www.internationaloliveoil.org

FoodGeeks: https://www.foodgeeks.com

In order to properly categorize an olive oil, it has to go through a chemical analysis to determine the value of several parameters and at the same time, an organoleptic analysis to validate the category statement. So, olive oil products are divided in three major categories:  

    A) Virgin Olive Oils

    B) Refined Olive Oils

    C) Olive pomace oils.

 

-A-

Virgin olive oil is produced solely by extracting the oil from the olives by using solely mechanical means. Essentially, it is the juice of the fruit of the olive tree. This category requires an organoleptic analysis to prove the category statement. There are four categories of virgin olive oil:

Name

Acidity*

Notes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

< 0,8

Highest quality category available. Must have pleasant fruity aroma and no taste defect.

Virgin Olive Oil

< 2,0

Mostly available in Mediterranean countries

Ordinary Virgin

Olive Oil

< 3,3

May only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale. If not permitted, the designation of this product shall comply with the legal provisions of the country concerned.

Lampante Olive Oil

> 2,0

Not suitable for food consumption. Undergoes refining

 

-B-

Refined olive oil is produced through processing lampante olive oil with chemical and physical filters but without changing the initial glyceridic structure. They can be blended with virgin oils, but not the opposite. There are two types of refined olive oils:

Name

Acidity*

Notes

Refined Olive Oil

< 0,3

Obtained by refining Lampante Virgin Olive Oil

Olive Oil

< 1,0

Obtained by blending Refined Olive Oil and Virgin olive Oil

Refining process are:

  1. 1. Deacidification

Olive oil is processed with a NaOH solution, which will form some kind of soap with the free fatty acids. Then, the mixture will undergo washing to clean solid parts and achieve a deacidified oil.

  1. 2. Bleaching

The oxidised substances of present in lampante olive oils are removed by filtering the oil through activated charcoal or other similar bleaching agents. The oil gets a yellow colour which reminds many cheap vegetable oils.

  1. 3. Deodorising

To remove unpleasant odours, the oil is processed by going through high temperatures and through vacuum.  The outcome is a an odouless oil.

 

-C-

Olive pomace oil is the oil obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by re esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. Olive pomace oil cannot be sold with the designation or definition “olive oil”, because it is a product of a by-product of the extraction process.

Olive pomace, or the solid by-product of the extraction, still contains a minimal quantity of oil. Olive mills cannot extract it, so the pomace goes to specialized plants for processing. During this process, pomace will be dried and with hexane so that all liquids are separated from the solids. Finally, hexane and liquids will be separated to obtain crude olive pomace oil.

There are three types of olive pomace oils:

Name

Acidity*

Notes

Crude Olive

Pomace Oil

-

Original product of this refining process. Not commercially available.

Refined Olive

Pomace Oil

< 0,3

May only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale.

Olive Pomace Oil

< 1,0

Obtained by blending Refined Olive Pomace Oil and Virgin olive Oils.

 

(*) Acidity is the basic parameter for categorisation of olive oils. However, there are many chemical tests required to be within certain limits for each category.

Sources:

www.internationaloliveoil.org

 

 

The Mediterranean diet, one of the most widespread diets around the world, is based on the consumption of olive oil as the main source of fat. Over the last 50 years, surveys carried out in parts of the Mediterranean, including Crete and southern Italy, have shown that the Mediterranean diet is responsible for the longevity of the inhabitants and the absence of cardiovascular and digestive diseases.

The Mediterranean Diet, rich in fibers, is based on eating healthy foods for the body, vegetable and plant foods. Vegetables, pasta, rice, legumes and fruits are its main ingredients, while food of animal origin is consumed in small quantities.
Olive oil, specifically raw, is used in salads and always at the end of cooking. Finally, in this model of diet, it is common to consume small quantities of red wine during meals.

An example of Mediterranean diet could be:

Olive oil the main source of fat
Fresh fruits, vegetables in variety and abundance several times a week
Dairy products in particular yoghurt and cheese several times a week
Legumes, plenty of bread, pasta and other starchy foods such as rice, potatoes and other cereals in variety, but with a measure of daily consumption and at least twice a week
Fatty fish, poultry and lean meat at least twice a week
Wine, when consumed along with the meal 

 

 

And also don't forget that Olive Oil:

• Has the same number of calories (9.3 per gr) with any other vegetable fat.

• It is, together with avocado oil, the only vegetable oils that can be consumed immediately after extraction without having to undergo any further treatment

• It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids: 60-80% oleic acid

• It has a very low content of saturated fatty acids ~ 14%

• It has approx. 10% linoleic acid

• Contains about 10% of the required daily amount of vitamin E in each tablespoon

• It has a high content of natural antioxidants and nutrients (eg polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenes etc.)

• It has a high content of squalene that actively regulates metabolism

• Does not contain water, proteins, gluten, carbohydrates, salt or other preservative

• It is absorbed by the body by 98%, while retains an important role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

• It has an excellent digestion by the human body, while its fatty acid composition and the presence of chlorophyll helps digestive tract function, stimulates the enzyme pancreatic lipase, facilitates the secretion of bile and promotes the metabolism of endogenous cholesterol.

Sources:

www.sevitel.gr

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