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True Olive Oil
Contributing Article by Sebastian Pistritto
Olive oil is the result of grinding and pressing the fresh flesh of the olives. Olives are generally harvested from November until March. Olives are picked just as the olive changes color. The color changing indicates that most of the oil has formed and is at peak flavor. For pure olive oil, the olives need to be pressed quickly from when they are picked since they begin to oxidize the moment they are removed from the tree.
Types of Olive Oils:
There are three basic types of olive oils: extra virgin, virgin and pure olive oil. The extra virgin olive oil is the top grade of the olive oils. The oil has less than 1% acidity, the olives have been picked and pressed the same day, and the oil has a strong, green color with a perfect aroma. Essentially, extra virgin Olive oil should smell and taste just like the olive from which it came from.
Virgin olive oil is the next grade. It has less than 2% acidity with good color and aroma. This may be the result of the next day olive pressing.
The final grade is pure olive oil. This is much lighter in color with little or no aroma. Pure olive oil is the result of a blend of virgin olive oil and refined oil, which is generally extracted from olive pulp, skin and/or pits.
How to buy Olive Oil:
When you want to buy olive oil, buy it in small quantities (or small containers) because olive oil does get old and continues to oxidize. If you do buy large containers of olive oil, separate the olive oil into smaller containers and keep them tightly sealed. Examine the bottled olive oil and determine where the olive oil was bottled. Look for the DOP or DOC label, both of which are standard organizations that define the various grades of olive oils. Also look at the color and make sure that it is green or a dark green. Look at the percentage of acidity. And always taste it if at all possible before you buy. In general, good olive oil is sweet with a peppery taste to it. It is full of body and aroma, very fruity and lively. For the most part there is no single best olive oil; it's more of a matter of personal taste. In general, buy only what you can use. Olive oil does not improve with time.
How to store olive oil:
One basic thing to remember about olive oil is that it is constantly oxidizing as a result of age, heat, air and light exposure. Always store olive oil in a dark glass bottle or stainless steel container. Do not store in plastic bottles because olive oil is very reactive and if in contact with plastic will take on the properties of the plastic container. Place the container in dark places and in areas that are slightly cooler than room temperature. Tightly close the container when you are not using it. Always check the date on the bottle and don't buy oil, which has been bottled for more than 9 months. Do not refrigerate olive oil, the condensation can mix with the oil and make the final result less flavorable.
If financially permitted always cook with extra virgin Olive oil, it is the sweetest and the purest oil possible. Use Olive oil when baking, frying, on salads, pasta and rice dishes and to preserve vegetables. Recommendation on some extra virgin olive oils are Catello di Ama – it is from the Tuscany area of Italy. The olive oil is rich, smooth and not too peppery. Or you can also try Davero from California – very fruity and with a slight flavor of artichoke and fennel aroma.
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