Not all olive oils are created equal. An skilled shares what you must know when choosing one … | Arts And Tradition


Olive oil is a must-have, living food that is unparalleled in hundreds of dishes.

It gives life, dimension and depth to vegetables, meat, fish, fruit and cheese. It is the vessel for frying, sautéing, deep-frying, emulsifying and binding. It’s the better parent in vinaigrettes, aioli, anchovies, pesto, tapenade, and marinades. It makes a brilliant combination with bread, yogurt, and herbs. It is the healthiest vegetable oil for frying as it has a high smoke point of 405 F.

Ah! Also, let’s not forget that martinis would not exist without olives.


Grinding this single fruit into oil is not just for food intake; You can find it in soaps, hair and skin care products, vitamins, additives, and ointments. Olive oil turned out to be one of the most extraordinary achievements in the advancement of our civilization and served as a source of light as early as 3,500 years ago.

Olive tree

The olive tree is robust and, apart from fatal diseases, has survived several generations of men and women.

Did the Phoenicians have this knowledge when they? Brought the olive tree from Mesopotamia to the Greek islands? We can’t be sure, but we do know that a millennium later, thanks to ancient Rome, the expansion is in full swing.

From the Mediterranean regions, huge fields of olive trees cover the Italian and Iberian peninsulas and most of the islands and territories in between, including North Africa and Gaul. It is reported that at the beginning of our era, the citizens of Rome consumed 50 liters per year per capita. (The current consumption in the USA is 1.5 liters per year per capita).

An olive grove defines the land like an army marching on a battlefield. With a gnarled trunk, smooth bark and silvery foliage that is disheveled by the slightest breeze, it is a tree of brilliant light. It is tough and, apart from fatal diseases, has endured several generations of men and women. It inspires artists and, to put it simply, it is revered – perhaps even more intensely by anyone who looks through a field of trees into the depths of time, probably by everyone from countries around the Mediterranean.

The olive tree was so worthy of the Spanish settlers in the New World that it came with them when they crossed the Atlantic. The slow advance of the tree traces the deadly path the Spaniards struck through the wild: the West Indies, Mexico, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.


And yet there is no instant tree-to-mouth satisfaction, as the olive fruit is inedible unless it is ripened and salted or ground into oil. Olive oil, although potable and edible in small quantities (a tradition of older generations in the areas where it is made), finds its true calling due to the taste it gives to foods. Its strength changes dishes that are boring into very pleasant results for the palate. Hummus is a great example of this. Where butter could be the alternative, olive oil is a more suitable ingredient for processing fresh vegetables, meat and bread.


The olive fruit is inedible unless it is ripened and salted or ground into oil.

When roasting red meat, poultry or potatoes, olive oil increases the crispness of the exposed surface and keeps the core tender, as with “Pommes de Terre Rissolées”. It cuts off the bitterness of the salad but doesn’t kill it. And with beets it decreases the sweetness. Olive oil is really an enhancer, a softener of food.

The challenge of improving our dishes with a variety of possible combinations has spawned a new wave of enthusiasts. This could explain why olive oil has achieved high status and has inspired stores to stock better quality products, a movement supported by chefs, TV shows and books. Olive oil is cool stuff.

Alfonso Fernandez, olive oil expert, consultant and judge for Evooleum, an olive oil competition, told us recently from Cordoba, Spain that “Olive oil reveals the ingredients with which to marry it. Wherever fat has its place, olive oil can replace it. The best way to play with it is to try things out. And it becomes more complex because every olive oil has a special taste, let’s say, an aioli with an Arbequina-based olive oil tastes different than with a Picual-based olive oil. “

Truly, good olive oil rightly deserves its high priority.


Bottle of oil

What should be considered when buying olive oil? Where does it come from? When was the olive harvest? What is the best before date?

The organoleptic assessment of olive oil (tasting analysis) is necessary in order to increase the purchase offer and to recognize quality and freshness. The flavors in olive oil range from fruity to peppery. But it extends further to plants like grass or wood. Notes of fresh fruit such as apple, kiwi or banana; a cooling sensation, like mint, artichoke and green almond, are good signals that the olive oil is overall fresh and helps influence our decisions.

Then comes the pairing. A citrus flavor gives fish, lettuce and even strawberries. A winter soup calls for a peppery olive oil. A paella or a ratatouille, for the grassy one.

Sharpness is an important factor in determining freshness.


An equally important argument in favor of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is its health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is an important distinction from other olive oils. This means that during the production process, from the quality of the olives to the harvest to the extraction, all steps were strictly followed methodically. In particular, it means – and this is important – that the level of volatility of its dominant acid (oleic acid) is so low that the deterioration in the chemical structure of the olive oil is almost irrelevant.

The analysis is carried out while extracting the “juice” of the olives after centrifugal separation, filtration and decanting. An oil is extra virgin when the free acids are 0.8 percent in grams or less. Although virgin olive oil is edible, extra virgin olive oil is a better choice for eating and cooking.

Extra virgin olive oil is an antioxidant that effectively slows the aging process of human cells. Cooking with EVOO instead of butter or other vegetable oils means that we are reducing our intake of cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

As is well known, the Mediterranean diet is an important factor in longevity and olive oil is an essential part of that diet. But perhaps the most important revelation in favor of the nutritional benefits of using olive oil is the work of the author Dan Büttner. For decades, Büttner has been documenting the life and eating habits of the greatest concentration of centenarians in 5 specific areas of the world, the Blue Zones. He attributes in part to the fatty acids and vitamins found in olive oil and other foods that are specifically important to your daily diet.


Not all olive oils are created equal. As with other foods, the shorter the connection between producer and consumer, the better the quality.

“Traceability is especially important in today’s world,” says Ernesto Gregorio, third generation olive grower in Centuripe, Sicily, “and the recent pandemic is here to prove it. We need to know what is in our food. For us it is never questioned. We don’t just produce or sell olive oil, we live from it. We would never produce olive oil except with the olives we grow. “

Since the majority of the world does not have direct access to olive oil, it is important to get some of the data. Where does it come from? When was the harvest? And what is the best before date? In addition, it would be helpful to know whether it was made by a large olive oil consortium or a family business, in the words of Alfonso Fernandez, “the grower on a small farm will make the most of what he can. “


Olive oil is not an inert food, stabilized in a bottle on the shelf of a pantry or the kitchen counter. Olive oil is alive and needs to be used quickly as its time is measured. It is susceptible to heat, light, oxygen, and ultimately time. Once bottled, the oil will last 18 to 22 months. Once the bottle is opened, it is best to use it within 60 days.