This Instructable is not about recipes, but an Instructable on what is
olive oil, how it is obtained, and many other important aspects related to this marvelous oil.
Typically, almost all of the oils we usually consume at home are obtain from grains. But Olive Oils are obtained from fruits called olives, which are harvest from olive trees, by the way. :).
Similar to wines, olive oils’ tastes change depending on the variety of olives, the harvest time, the process by which it is obtain, and most important, the region and culture where they are cultivated.
NOTE: “IF YOU ARE A WINE LOVER, I’M VERY SURE YOU WILL ALSO LOVE OLIVE OILS and thus, you will love (and vote) this intractable.
NOTE 2: IF YOU ARE NOT A WINE LOVER, I’M VERY SURE YOU WILL LOVE OLIVE OILS ANYWAY!
Step 1: History
Olive’s cultivation dates back millennia, and Olive oils are written into the Mediterranean culinary canon. Olive trees are some of the oldest trees ever harvested by humans, a practice that dates back more than 8,000 years. Today, olives are grown both for their oil and their fruit. The trees themselves thrive in warm, subtropical zones, especially in sea air and rocky soil. Great wine regions and climates tend to be hospitable to olive trees, too. But olive trees grow even more slowly and require meticulous cultivation; in exchange for that intensive investment, their longevity rewards many generations. They live long, for as much as a millennium.
There are many ancient books mentioning things related to olive trees, and even the bible says in Genesis 8.11: “And the dove came in to him in the evening; and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”
Step 2: Varieties
Similar to most fruits, there’s not only one variety; there are many,
and some are typical from specific areas. According to Wikipedia, there are about 50 varieties of olives (researched this coz I didn’t know them all - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_olive_cultivars ). Each of them has their own purpose (table olives, olive oils, or both) and unique characteristics in acidity, bitterness, fruity and even sweet flavors.
In my country, Argentina, Olive culture settled on the arid areas of Catamarca, La Rioja, Mendoza and my dearest province, San Juan. But nowadays, coz of the adaptability of olive trees, there are new plantations growing in colder and more humid areas such as the south of Buenos Aires, Neuquén, and in Traslasierra – Cordoba, being Arbequina, Manzanilla, Changlot, Picual, and Frantoio, the most typical varieties in Argentina. I have some of them planted at my farm.
Step 3: Types of Olive Oils
I’m sure you may have heard about Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive oils, but do you really know what that means?
Extra Virgin (EVOO) or Virgin (VOO) Olive oils are those extracted only by mechanical methods, without using solvents or heating during the extraction. First the olives are crushed into paste, which later goes into a centrifuge machine that separates the solids, water and the oils, all of them coming out through different pipes.
This is why olive oil is the healthiest oil: it is not refined and it’s extracted with no chemical alteration, just as your morning orange juice.
The difference between EVOO and VOO is in their free acidity: EVOO has less than or equals to 0.8° free acid, and VOO allows up to 2°.
Both extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil have the same amount of antioxidants and are tested to ensure purity.
Step 4: Harvest Time
Olives can be harvested when they are still green (unripe), or when they are totally dark (ripe), or any time in between.
The time of harvest will influence a lot in the resulting flavor of the olive oil. Traditionally, olives where hand-picked, but new technologies have created machines that help a lot during the harvest process.
Step 5: Flavours
You may find yourself saying “I don’t like olive oil because it’s too bitter/spice” or “I don’t like it cause it’s too soft”, Then I may say, “Unfortunately, you tried the only one kind of olive oils, and nobody taught you about them”.
Olive oils’ flavors varied widely depending on different aspects. The variety of the olives is the main aspect. Then, depending on the harvest time, you may obtain flavors from bitter to sweet. Olive oils are classified into 4 mayor groups according to their flavors
· I. Fruity Ripe / sweet,
· II. fruity bitter unripe / spicy – delicate
· III. fruity bitter unripe / spicy – medium,
· IV. fruity bitter unripe / spicy – intense
I recommend you to start using/tasting olive oils in the order set above, that’s from the light oil to the more aggressive one.
If tried once before and didn’t like it, give olive oil a new chance and I’m sure you will find one that suits your taste perfectly.
There are tasting competitions al around the world where trained judges taste the oils and qualify them accoring to the oils qualities, like fruitiness, intensity, acidity, etc.
Step 6: How to Use Olive Oils
Olive oils is not just for seasoning, you can perfectly fried any kind of food with them, and it’s even healthier to use olive oil to cook than others, since olive oils need a higher temperature to suffer chemical changes and to get burned.
The use of mildest olive oils in bakery as a replacement of butter or fat is growing since it is a vegetable fat, being healthier than those traditionally used. But you can also use the spiciest oils to cook pastry, or perhaps to prepare much flavored home-made bread.
The spiciest oils can be used in seasoning a salad or pasta or any other dish, giving them different flavors without adding any other spice.
Nowadays, it is also used for cosmetology. You will find many treatments for your hair, or skin produced with olive oils.
And for those who like grandpa’s advices, If you are planning a night out with friends where there will be much drinking but you don’t want alcohol to finish your night early, then take a spoonful of olive oil before going out, and this will help to drink a lot without getting drunk too soon.
Hope you have enjoyed this instructable and so, vote for it. But most of
all, although I’m not an olive oil producer (I just produce olives, take them to a mill and they give me olive oil in exchange), I really hope you start consuming this incredible fruit juice called OLIVE OIL.