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Olive Oil
What is Olive Oil?

Olive oil is the oil we extract from the fruit of the olive tree with mechanical means and natural processing. Olive oil is an entirely natural product. Our body absorbs 98% of it, while it carries the same number of calories as other vegetable oils.

Olive oil is a basic source of fat in Mediterranean nutrition. As a vegetable fat, olive oil has more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and is considered highly friendly to our body and our health, while it does not contain any cholesterol at all. On the contrary, animal fats that contain large quantities of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol are a hazard to our health and our body.


What is acidity?

Acidity is the basic criteria for assessing the quality of olive oil and defines its commercial value. The degree of the olive oil’s acidity indicates the product’s content in oleic acid. The method with which it is harvested and crushed may affect the olive oil’s final acidity to a great extent.
Acidity is expressed in grams of free oleic acid per 100 gr. of fat and constitutes the degree of the olive oil’s acidity. Olive oil acidity is that which determines:

• how edible it is (acidity of up to 2%) and
• the industrial olive oil (acidity greater than 2%)

ATTENTION… Acidity is one thing… and oxidation is another!

Oxidation is a natural alteration that happens when natural products come into contact with oxygen. Oxidation, rancidity in other words, destroys the olive oil’s flavour and aroma. Light and oxygen are the main causes for this, but also other factors, such as the method with which it is harvested and how the olives are stored, contribute to oxidation. The olive oil’s flavour is spoiled; it becomes unpleasant; it smells like earth and its quality drops dramatically.


What types of olive oil are there?

Standardised olive oil is available for consumption in four basic categories:

• Extra virgin Olive oil (acidity of up to 0.8%)
• Virgin Olive oil (acidity of up to 2%)
• Blend of Olive oil, consisting of refined and virgin olive oil (acidity of up to 1%)
• Olive kernel oil (acidity of up to 1%)


What is EXTRA virgin olive oil? What is its difference from other types of oil?

This is the most natural category of olive oil with a perfect aroma and taste. Its acidity does not exceed 0.8%. It has a strong fruity flavour and the aroma of a freshly cut olive fruit. Its unique flavour highlights freshness in salads in the best possible way, while difficult tastes that need particular expertise and treatment such as game, roasts and vegetables meet their perfect match.


What is Olive kernel oil?

This is oil that comes from blending refined Olive kernel oil and virgin olive oil, the acidity of which does not exceed 1% and its other characteristics are those expected of this category. The extraction of this oil from the olive stone and its refinement is done under extreme control conditions so that its excellent quality is maintained. Olive kernel oil has a soft, mild taste. It is considered to be ideal for frying because it can tolerate high temperatures.


What is olive oil blend?

OLIVE OIL – CONSISTING OF REFINED OLIVE OIL AND VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

This is a blend of virgin and refined olive oil. It has a pleasant taste and smell, a unique and discrete aroma of mature fruit and fresh olive, a light yellow-green colour and its acidity does not exceed 1%.

OTHER OLIVE OIL BLENDS (excluded from EU regulations)

It is possible to find other types of blends (cheaper and for the appropriate use), consisting of Olive kernel oil and other vegetable oils (seed oil, soya oil, etc.)
The type of oils comprising the blend and their proportions should ALWAYS be clearly stated on the package.


Green Olive oil – Organic – Aromatic Olive oil

GREEN OLIVE OIL – THE BEST OIL OF THE YEAR

Extra Virgin Olive oil from the first unripe fruit of the olive has a rich, fruity and spicy aroma, but also a characteristically bitter taste. All its characteristics “boast” youth, vitality and a strong personality. It is usually available in a limited quantity and is gathered from the best olive trees. Unripe olives are picked by hand and are not gathered from the ground or by beating the olive trees. Due to its rare “temperament”, green olive oil has a limited life span. Consumers have only 9 months to enjoy this unripe side of life!

ORGANIC OLIVE OIL

This is oil that comes from olive groves where strict rules are applied for organic farming. The application of fertilizers is not allowed here, neither is spraying or any other type of processing during the crushing of the olives, nor in the preservation or bottling of the olive oil. The labels of organic products must necessarily state the approval number and the certification obtained by accredited inspection and certification organisations, such as DIO, BIOHELLAS, PHYSIOLOGIKE.

AROMATIC OLIVE OILS

Aromatic olive oils are used in almost all the world’s cuisines. They give a pleasant aroma to salads, grilled vegetables, cheese, while they make a “perfect” dip for bread products. Their bottles contain spices, herbs, plants or vegetables that give olive oil a fragrance and gourmet aesthetics.


What type of olives produce olive oil?

Mainly from green olives, with “KORONAIKI” and “MANAKI” being amongst the most famous varieties.


Which countries produce olive oil?

Spain (36%), Italy (25%), Greece (18%), Tunisia (8%), Turkey (5%), Syria (4%), Morocco (3%), Portugal (1% of production*).

Nevertheless, Greece is the first country in olive oil consumption, consuming nearly twice as much as Spain, which comes 2nd.*

*2005 data


Which parts of Greece are famous for olive oil production?

Olive oil is produced in most areas of Greece, except for the northern parts (e.g. Macedonia) where the weather is less warm. However, in some famous areas, PDO and PGI olive oils are produced:

Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) Olive oil.
Greece has listed with the European Union 14 Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) olive oil production areas. PDO olive oil bears the name of the region with its respective and particular organoleptic properties.

ACKNOWLEDGED P.D.O. OLIVE OILS:

• Kalamata
• Kolymvari, Chania of Crete
• Sitia, Lasithi of Crete
• Krokees of Lakonia
• Peza, Heraklion of Crete
• Kranidi of Argolida
• Archanes, Heraklion of Crete
• Lygourio of Asclepius
• Viannos, Heraklion of Crete
• North Mylopotamos, Rethymno of Crete
• Petrina, Laconia
• Apokoronas, Chania of Crete
• Thrapsano
• Finiki of Lakonia


Protected Geographical Indication (P.G.I.) Olive oil.
These bear the name of the area to which they owe their reputation, while production and processing takes place exclusively in that specific area. Greece has listed with the European Union 11 PGI olive oil production areas.

ACKNOWLEDGED P.G.I. OLIVE OILS:

• Zakynthos
• Thassos
• Cephalonia
• Lakonia
• Lesvos
• Olympia
• Preveza
• Rhodes
• Samos
• Chania
• Agios Mattheos of Corfu

P.D.O. and P.G.I. olive oils have been acknowledged by the European Union and fulfil the requirements of technical community regulations. Moreover, Greece has imposed even stricter requirements for acknowledgment in order to entirely protect the high quality of Greek olive oil.


Why do they say that olive oil is healthy?

For many reasons! As a basic source of monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil helps:

• in reducing “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the blood;
• in maintaining the content of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in the blood;
• in the good function of the intestines;
• in preventing cardiovascular diseases and in protecting the body from coronary disease due to the supreme antioxidants it contains.
• in the treatment of stomach and duodenal ulcers, as it helps digestion;
• in reducing gastric fluid;
• in improving the body’s ability to absorb calcium;
• for diabetics, in acquiring a good metabolism and balancing their sugar rates;
• in cancer prevention, while, last...
• in refreshing the skin!


Does it need to be refrigerated?

There is no sense in storing oil in the fridge. Olive oil will turn cloudy if refrigerated. This of course does not affect the oil in any manner whatsoever. By leaving it at room temperature, it will restore itself to its normal condition.


How long does olive oil last?

During its standardization, the expiration date of the product is necessarily specified and written and its shelf-life may be between 12 and 18 months. During this time, the olive oil’s components remain unaltered (if properly stored).


What is the best way to preserve olive oil?

The storage method is a very significant factor in preserving the aroma, colour, flavour and valuable components of olive oil.

In particular, consumers SHOULD:

• purchase small quantities of olive oil, so that these quantities remain unaltered, without the risk of “going bad”;
• store large quantities of olive oil in appropriately dark, glass bottles, demijohn or non-oxidizing vessels which, however, should have air-tight seals;
• avoid tins that may have internally oxidised, and also PVC vessels, while ceramic crocks that have a doubtful internal coating should be used with particular caution;
• preserve the olive oil in a dark and cool place (10-18oC) without strong odours.

What HARMS OLIVE OIL is:

• exposure to sun and heat
• exposure to technical light (lamps on supermarket shelves, etc.)
• oxygen
• humidity


In what packing may I buy it?

Olive oil is packed in:

• tin (metal) vessels
• glass bottles
• plastic (PET) bottles
• aseptic paper containers and
• aseptic sacs

Being aware that light increases oxidizing of olive oil and degrades it, the best packing method for olive oil is tin vessels. For this reason, lately, many producers have replaced glass bottles with tin vessels. Aseptic sacs also preserve olive oil exceptionally well; while glass bottles offer relatively less protection (dark glass bottles are preferred). The worst – in terms of quality – packing method, with which cheaper olive oil is usually packed, is the plastic (PET) bottle.


When does harvesting begin?

Olives that are meant for olive oil production are gathered from November until the end of December. The olive oil of a new harvest is made available as of the month of December. In other countries (such as Spain), harvesting begins at a later period than in Greece, so availability of new harvested olive oil begins at the end of January.


Should olive oil be cooked or can it be consumed raw?

Olive oil is used in all methods of cooking – frying, roasting, boiling and sautéing. Extra virgin olive oil is usually used as a food supplement and, due to its nature, it is ideal when added raw in fresh or cooked salads.


What happens if the olive oil is heated for too long?

Olive oil should not be “burnt” at very high temperatures. Apart from the fact that its quality will reduce, there is a risk of fire (speaking always about excessive heating at high temperatures for a long time!).


How is olive oil used in the kitchen?

Olive oil is used for cooking in a pan, in the oven, etc., in all types of Mediterranean meals and especially in Greek dishes. It is ideal in salads (and not only in the famous “Greek salad”). It can be added to any vegetable salad, etc. Olive oil is also traditionally used to serve feta cheese, on which it is poured along with aromatic oregano.
As long as there is imagination, olive oil has a place in our kitchen!
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