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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Olive Oil selection process

Selecting the Best Olive Oil

The process of olive oil production, from the tree to the bottle, is probably one of the most breathtaking things to see in your life.

In Canneto, Italy stands the oldest living olive tree –  the oldest in all of Europe. This tree, certified and protected by the European Union, dates back to more than 2,000 years.

Olives, when they start growing, begin with a yellowish green color and, as they reach their fully-grown size, turns in a darker, greener color. Once they are fully ripe, they are already black or purple-black in color, although some turn into a slightly copper-brown shade while others remain green.

Olives are harvested at different stages. Table olives are usually harvested by hand; workers use a fork-like tool to gently remove the olive from the trees. In Sicily, where olives are abundant, there are many family owned orchards in the countryside. Family members all participate during the harvest, with members actually leaving their jobs to help gather the olives during this time. During harvest season, which provides only a very small opportunity or gathering every single olive in the countryside, orchards and hillsides are covered with harvesters gathering the olives from the trees. Huge nets are spread below in order to be able to catch every single piece.

Amazingly, even the elderly participate in the gathering of olives. Most of the olives that are gathered during the harvest are used to make olive oil. Upon harvesting, they are packed and are immediately taken to the olifecio or olive processor.

The processing of olive oil in Sicily makes use of an antique method of using a giant millstone grind, which grinds the seeds and the olive together in order to create a paste. The resulting paste will then be sandwiched in straw mats, and these will be piled one on top of the other. Sometimes, this pile of mates reaches up to more than twenty feet in the air. Next, these mats are pressed together and the liquid that comes through is called the first press olive oil. This is done without ay use of heat. The smell of this first press is exciting – rich, fruity, and even peppery.

This process is completely natural and uses no heat in order to extract the first press of oil from the olives. This first press produces an oil that is foggy in consistency and has a grayish sediment a good grade oil will proudly say that it is “first cold pressed”. Aside from this, there are basically 5 other classifications of olive oil that play important roles in the kitchen.

Extra virgin olive oil, which is very fragrant and flavorful. It has an acidity level of less than one percent. It is great for drizzling over meats, fish, vegetables, and pasta. Virgin olive oil is a less fruity and lighter version of extra-virgin, though with a higher acidity. Refined olive oil, on the other hand, is made from lower quality virgin oils. It is chemically treated in order to remove the flaws in its flavor and aroma and is usually used for frying, cooking, and dressings. Pure olive oil is a low-cost blend of refined and virgin live oil. It has a mild flavor and is used as the al purpose cooking oil in salads and dressings. The fifth grade is pomace, which is made from the olive oil residue of the previous pressings and is treated with solvents to extract any residual oil. It carries a bland flavor and is mostly used for frying.

One tip in storing you olive oil is to keep it in a cool dry place away from the sun. Glass and ceramic containers must also be used to prevent it from turning sour or rancid. Store the oil in glass or ceramic containers as well – the prescribed storage – to prevent it from losing its flavor and aroma. Avoid placing your oil in the refrigerator, as it will result in a cloudy mix; always make sure your olive oil should never be exposed to light, heat, or air. Finally, be sure to use all your olive oil within 2 years to enjoy its maximum flavor and freshness.

choosing an olive oil, olive oil selection, olive oil quality

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