Hard-Pressed to Beat Cold-Pressed Olive Oil

| 8/4/2016 10:26:00 AM

Country MoonNearly everyone remembers their mother’s and grandmother’s cooking with a smile. Aside from being generally good cooks and bakers, they had an edge. Fried potatoes, pie crusts, cookies, and most all the other favorite dishes were made with good old-fashioned lard. If they really wanted to add flavor, they would go for bacon grease, too. My arteries are cringing at the mere mention of these words.

As we add years, we start to think more often of making healthy choices. Of course, when it comes to fats, the star is olive oil. However, this is not as simple of a choice as it sounds. Olive oil isn’t just olive oil. If you look at the grocer’s shelves, the choices are endless; virgin, extra virgin, lite, semi-virgin, fine virgin … the list goes on. Seriously, how is a person to choose?

The price tags are as varied as the various grades. So, before laying out a few nickels, I decided to do a little research. What I found is that olive oil has a story all its own.

Many variables go into the production of this oil. These variables yield dramatic differences in color, aroma, and flavor. A large percentage of olive oil comes from the Mediterranean area. It takes several years for the trees to mature before they produce oil. As with any crop, olive farmers go for higher yields without sacrificing quality. This is especially important since it takes 10 pounds of olives to produce one liter of oil. Careful pruning helps the trees to produce more.

There is much work involved just to coax the oil out of the olives. Traditionally, trees were shaken or beaten with sticks to make the olives drop to the ground. This causes bruising and, once bruised, the oil starts to degrade. For this very reason, some olive oil labels specify “hand-picked,” or further distinguish by labeling the olives used for the oil as “tree olives” or “ground olives.’

In modern day production, some large-scale producers use tree-shaking devices and large nets to catch the fruit. Care must also be taken during transport. Any bruising damage can trigger oxidation and fermentation, which results in an “off” flavor.

8/9/2016 8:06:10 AM

Lois, great information about how the simple olive is used to make olive oil. We don't think much about how food is processed when we just pick it up off the shelf in the stores. It probably would make us be more careful about our food choices if we knew what processing has been done behind the scenes, don't you think? ***** Have a great olive oil day.

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