The olive tree is an evergreen plant with narrow leaves and long, silvery-green color, which can live several centuries.
Its fruit is the olive, a fleshy drupe that sends oil to grease over other substances are also important from the point of view of sensory, nutritional and health.
The oil is made up to 50% water, 20% sugar, 18-25% fat, 5% cellulose, 1.5% protein, 2% other.
The oil extracted from olives is a fruit juice among the few derivatives for simple extraction mechanical physics that can be consumed without undergoing other production processes. For the best quality oil, the olives are harvested at veraison (just the green start to get brown / brown), without damaging them, kept in boxes with holes, pressed within 24 ore.
During milling no chemical solvents have to be added, for no reason, extraction needs to be done only by physical mechanical processes, unsaturated intermediate unsaturation (balanced composition of fatty acids) and the presence of several minor components derived from the fruit (sterols, squalene, alcohols, pigments, phenols, etc..) which constitute the unsaponifiable fraction (part not consisting in fatty substances) needs to be verified.
At this point we are certainly in the presence of an oil of merit, since the presence of the minor components and the transformation methodology with physical mechanics without addition of chemical solvents, contrary to what happens for the oil obtained from seeds and not fruit, confer olive oil special organoleptic and nutritional properties not found in other similar products.
Just minor components give the oil the organoleptic qualities (flavor, color, taste) that distinguish it and at the same time protect it from oxidation of fats. The antioxidant action is then transmitted to the body at the time of ingestion.
Before use, smell and taste the oil in order to evaluate its qualities.
In this regard, there is a specific discipline (panel test) encoded by Reg.CEE n.2568/91 that indicates how the evaluation of the oil components perceived through the nose and mouth. In this way we can distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of a sample of oil.
Among the advantages we can distinguish the flavor and fragrance: fruity (sense of smell), bitter, pungent (flavors).
Between defects: Winey, musty, heating (poor storage of the olives before milling), metallic mats, cooked (bad transformation process), sludge, putrid, rancid (poor preservation).
To optimally preserve the oil, it must keep it away from the heat at a temperature comprised between 12 and 18 °C. and by the light that facilitates the processes of degradation of fats. Excessive oxygen makes the oil rancid, so the container should always be keept closed.
The extra virgin olive oil is the oil obtained directly from olives by mechanical means, in respect of the legal parameters (acidity, peroxide value, k270, k232, etc…).
Acidity is a chemical index, not perceivable by the taste, which can provide information on the state of the oil contained in the olives prior to extraction.
A good oil should have an odor reminiscent of fresh olive fruit (fruity). Tasting should provide a feeling of spicy and bitter aftertaste. It should not be greasy and, once tasted, must leave the mouth “clean”.
The best guarantees on the quality of the product come from tasting (olfactory and gustatory analysis), from indication on the label of any CTM: PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), PGI (IGT) which guarantee traceability and checks that the product has undergone, geographical origin, the result of the organoleptic analysis (panel test).
In the label is also indicated if the manufacturer of the oil is a farm or a packer/bottler.
Only if the manufacturer is a farm, one can have guarantees on the quality characteristics relating to the variety of olive trees cultivated, growing area, time and method of collection, processing system, bottling and storage.
All oils contain the same amount of fat and bring 9K/cal. per gram. The extra virgin olive oil has not more calories than seed oil and, being more flavorful in dressings, a smaller amount is needed; it is the most digestible of the oils, so much so there”s no specific contraindications and be well advised in the diets of infants.
Unlike other vegetable oils (palm, coconut, etc..), extra virgin olive oil has a much lower concentration of saturated fats (rich in cholesterol). It’s more suitable for frying as it’s more resistant to high temperatures due to the natural anti-oxidants that protect it from oxidation and polyphenols and tocopherols (minor components) that prevent the formation of free radicals.
For storage of extra virgin olive oil, it”s best suited an environment with a temperature between 12 and 18 degrees/centigrade, dark, placed away from other scents/odors of any kind as the oil, like a sponge, absorbs the odors. The containers can be made of dark glass, stainless steel, aluminum, tinplate.
The quality is determined by the cropping systems of the olive trees, the moment and the method of collection, storage of olives and olive oil, the time between harvest and milling, the extraction technology.
The extra virgin olive oil is typical if it has particular organoleptic characteristics (taste and odor) arising from the places where the trees are planted and the varietal characteristics of the same. This gives the possibility of DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) mark.
Extra virgin olive oil”s taste, bitter and spicy (not to be confused with the acidity that is not perceptible to the sense but intercepted only by specific analysis), is a particular value of the product, a guarantee that it has been obtained from green olives when just turning color. It is given by a more or less high presence of polyphenols which is linked to the oil’s ability to perform protective and beneficial actions on unsaturated fatty acids.
The richness of aroma and flavor of the oil allows special combinations with variety of food dishes. On dishes with delicate flavor best match is with subtle fruity oil, which does not cover the taste of foods, on savoury dishes it”s better to rely on oil with fruity, bitter and spicy taste.
It”s increasingly spreading nowadays in restaurants the use of paper and carriage of oils in order to provide customers with a wide range of special oils based on variety, authenticity, etc…
Extra virgin olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) that do not increase blood cholesterol and so-called minor components that perform antioxidant activity and inhibit the formation of free radicals. On the contrary, solid fats (butter, margarine, lard, etc..) contain saturated fats that increase cholesterol in the blood and the risk tumors in the colon. Seed oil instead easily suffers oxidation with the formation of free radicals and thus cellular aging and other chronic degenerative diseases.
The main difference of antioxidant quality of extra virgin olive oil with other oils is that the olive oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the fruit where residents are all these protective substances.
Extra virgin olive oil is the main element of the Mediterranean diet, a style of balanced and nutritious diet that helps reduce the risk overweight and obesity.