Olive oil, a bit of history.
The olive oil has been consumed by humans since year 4,000 before Christ in Mesopotamia, then also used by Roman since the year 0 BC.
The olive tree has been cultivated in the Mediterranean basin for 6,000 years and the oil has been used since ancient times: it was not only used for food, but also for lighting.
The first oils produced were probably those of sesame and olive while today the most important are those of soy, palm and rapeseed. The cultivation and use of it in particular vary from one country to another: in Europe the consumption of olive, sunflower, soybean, peanut and rapeseed oils is widespread, while the Pacific countries mainly use palm oils and soy.
For food use, we mainly use vegetable ones obtained from legumes (soy, peanuts), seeds (sunflower, rapeseed), cereals (corn), fruits (olive, palm, walnut, hazelnut, grape seeds, sweet almond) and cotton. There are also of animal origin (whale, cod, seal), which are considered above all food supplements, and finally mineral ones (from hydro carbides), among which only paraffin oil is edible, albeit indigestible, (which must not never be heated).
What does Extra Virgin mean?
Extra virgin means extracted by mechanical procedure directly from olives. In other words the first oil that an olive produces. Then if we squeeze a second time the olives, it’s not extra virgin olive oil anymore. Mechanical means that we extract it with a mechanical mill and without chemical nor electric extraction.
How do we recognise a high quality EVO oil?
We recognise the high quality EVOO by the smell and taste of it. So it’s a little difficult to pick a high quality EVOO from the bottle. However once you which producers you can trust you can source your favourite EVOO from them. A couple of things you should know: Italy makes one of the best EVO oil in the world, so you can start from here; the second thing is that the EVO oil is a his best when it’s fresh which mean less than one year old.
What factors determine the quality of EVO Oil?
- The time passed between the olive is picked and the moment the olives are pressed. If the olives go quickly to the mill to be pressed after they are picked, the result will be a high quality olive oil. If the olives have to wait days before they are pressed they oxidate and they lose many of the nutrient properties.
Nutrition properties of the EVO Oil
The high quality extra virgin olive oil contains nutraceuticals, which are natural cures for the organism. Examples of nutraceuticals are probiotics, antioxidants, polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6), vitamins and enzyme complexes.
Nutraceutical is a term that derives from the crasis of the words nutrition and pharmaceuticals and studies the pharmaceutical and nutritional properties of foods.
The nutraceutical is therefore a scientific discipline dedicated to the study of foods and feed materials that have a beneficial effect on human health.
Rich in antioxidants
What does Extra Virgin Olive Oil mean?
- Extra refers to the acidity of the oil which should be less than 0.8% otherwise it cannot be called extra. However it is not mandatory to write the acidity on the label of the bottles of EVO oil therefore it’s not possible to choose the oil based on this factor. An high quality extra virgin olive oil has a low acidity (Ph)
- Virgin oil means that the oil is extracted with a mechanical process like pressing and crushing, in opposition for example to electrical process.
Where to buy High Quality EVO Oil?
In Italy, Tuscany in particular you can find one of the best EVO Oil, you can buy it also online from one of the associations of oil producers in the Chianti region near Florence. The Grevepesa Mill Consortium is one of these associations and this is the website www.frantoiogrevepesa.com.
1) Choose a trustworthy producer like an olive-mill. There are several certifications for Italian EVO like IGP, DOP and also BIO if you want a bio EVO.
2) The best oils also have won awards like Leone D’Oro or others
3) The date of production of the oil is very important. It’s NOT sufficient the expiration date, a high quality olive oil must state the manufacturing date.
The mediterranean often refers to Italy and to abundance of vegetables, olive oil, grains in the food that people eat every day. This concept was introduced by the American epidemiologist and physiologist, Ancel Keys, who, in his study called “Seven Countries Studies”, scientifically demonstrated how Italians’ quality of life is: strictly related to their diet. In the Italian diet it is also important the quality and the freshness of the ingredients like fruit and vegetables that Italians can source locally and therefore they are always fresh and rich in nutraceuticals.