Did You Know?

What is the difference between filtered and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil?
Filtration is the process by which the microscopic bits of the fruit of the olive are removed from the oil. Unfiltered oil will be cloudy until it settles to the bottom. Some consider unfiltered oil superior because of the added flavor from the fruit.
How is olive oil produced?
The traditional method of extracting olive oil from the fruit is virtually the same today as it has been for thousands of years. At harvest time, which varies from region to region, olives are harvested by hand, and collected in nets placed around the foot of the tree. A day or two thereafter, the olives are taken to the mill. Giant stones weighing several tons are used to crush the olives and pits into mash.
The olive mash is then spread onto thin mats. These mats are stacked, and placed into a machine "press." As the press applies several hundred pounds of pressure, oil and water from the mash seep out of the mats, and drip into collection vats. In the traditional method, no heat is applied in the pressing--hence the term "first cold pressed." The oil is allowed to settle, and any vegetable water is removed either by centrifuge or decantation. Oil extracted from the mechanical pressing of the olive is described as "virgin" olive oil, because it is pure, unrefined and unprocessed.

Are all extra virgin olive oils the same? No. Like wines, extra virgin olive oils can vary dramatically in taste, depending upon the type and quality of the fruit that is pressed, the time of harvest, the weather during the growing season, and the region from which the olives were produced.
Connoisseurs generally use the following adjectives in appraising extra virgin olive oils: mild, semi-fruity and fruity, depending on the flavor of the olive that can be detected. Further, some oils, such as the finer oils from Tuscany and Southern Italy, have a peppery finish that many appreciate.

What are the nutritional components?
A tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, 14 grams of fat, and no cholesterol. Seventy seven percent (77%) of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated, and nine percent (9%) is polyunsaturated fat; fourteen percent (14%) is vegetable-derived saturated fat. Virgin olive oils also contain the antioxidants beta-carotene and Vitamin E, as well as the phenolic compounds tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol.
What makes olive oil a superior product to other oils?
Three things make olive oil superior to vegetable oils: taste, nutrition and integrity.
Taste is the most obvious difference between olive oil and the commercially popular vegetable oils such as corn, soybean and canola oils. These oils are tasteless fats. You would not want to eat a piece of bread dipped in vegetable oil; for the same basic reason, many chefs refrain from adding tasteless fat to the foods they prepare. When you cook with oil, get the most flavor and texture you can.
Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, adds a flavor and textural dimension lacking in other oils, making it a suitable substitute for butter and margarine in almost any recipe. In fact, more and more restaurants are serving extra virgin olive oil, both plain or flavored with salt and pepper, as an alternative to butter for bread.
Nutritionally, olive oil contains more monounsaturated fat than any of the popular vegetable oils. For more information on the nutritional qualities of olive oil versus other oils and fats, please refer to the last chapter in this booklet.
Moreover, vegetable oils are industrial, processed foods. Vegetable oils are generally extracted by means of petroleum-based chemical solvents, and then must be highly refined to remove impurities. Along with the impurities, refining removes taste, color and nutrients.
Extra virgin olive oils are not processed or refined. It is said that you do not make extra virgin olive oil, you find it. Extra virgin olive oil is essentially "fresh squeezed" from the fruit of the olive tree, without alteration of the color, taste, and nutrients or vitamins. Because of the integrity of the product, and its antioxidant components, olive oil will keep longer than all other vegetable oils.



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