A few words about the olive oil

 The olive tree is an evergreen tree which lives over 1000 years. Its root goes very deep in the ground and branches. This helps the tree to find the necessary humidity and nutritious foods and also makes it steady grounded. The olive tree grows in hard and soft grounds and its bole becomes thick, tall and branched. The olive tree may reach up to 25-30 meters high. The outer skin of the bole is dry, gray and has a lot of lumps. The young tree’s bole is glossy and smooth.

 The olive tree leaf has small stem and its shape is like lance. The upper surface of the leaf is pale green and the other one is silver. The olive tree usually blooms in April and May.

 The olive fruit is composed of the external skin, the fleshy part that produces the oil and the core. Prior to the maturity, the olive fruit is green but during maturing it takes a dark gray or black color. The olive fruit usually starts maturing in the mid-autumn period and the harvest starts mostly in November and may last up to March.

 

The varieties of olives

 The olive tree grows in temperate climates without large temperature and humidity changes (an ideal annual temperature average is around 16oC).That’s why olive trees are usually met in the Mediterranean area (as in Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Algeria and elsewhere). Olive tree may grow in many areas of the world, provided that the temperature does not fall much and for long periods under zero Celcius degree. Thus, the particularly suitable area for its cultivation are the areas near the seaside. The olive trees are usually planted in straight rows or in diamond-shape. Depending on the variety and the quality of the ground, the distance between the olive trees rows may be from 7 to 20 meters. The area where the olive trees are cultivated called olive grove or “eleonas” in Greek. 

The main olive varieties grown in Greece are the following:

·  Kalamon

·  Koroneiki

·  Ladoelia or Lianoelia

·  Chondroelia

·  Megaritiki

·  Mount Athos variety

·  Petroelia

·  Asproelia

 

Source: wikipedia.org

 

Kinds of olive oil

The olive oil is categorized into the following categories, in particular according to the color, flavor, taste and acidity:

Extra virgin olive oil: This is for the best quality oil. It has excellent color, taste and flavor and the acidity does not exceed 1%.

Virgin olive oil: It varies from extra virgin, not only in the degree of acidity, which however, does not exceed 2%, but also in taste.

Disadvantaged virgin olive oil: This oil of poor quality and taste, with acidity greater than 2%.

Blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils: This kind of olive oil has a pleasant taste and smell, light yellow color and its acidity does not exceed 1%.

Raffinate or Refined olive oil: This is a yellow, nearly tasteless oil with acidity up to 0.3%.

Olive pomace oil: Its soft, mild flavor and comes from blending refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil.

Green olive oil: Green olive oil is the first oil of unripe olives. It has a fruity, bitter and spicy taste and intense olive flavor.

 

Source: www.ethnos.gr

 

Olive oil and health

 

The excellent flavor, the unique taste and the high nutritional value of olive oil make it a key element in the human diet. The fatty acid composition of the oil consists of 70-80% monounsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated fat, a relationship that is highly beneficial to the human body.

In Medicine the olive oil is considered as a basic key factor for the balance of metabolism and brain and bones development. Moreover the high vitamin E content, seems to contribute to the slowing of aging.

Virgin olive oil, due to the monounsaturatedfatty, contributes to the following:

• Helps to the reduction of "bad cholesterol” (LDL) and stabilizes the content of "good cholesterol "(HDL), in blood.

• It has a positive effect in preventing blocking of the arteries and thus helps to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

• Contributes to the easy digestion and helps to treat ulcer and duodenum.

• Contributes to the correct diet of diabetics and consequently helps to the counterpoise the sugars’ amounts in blood.

• Strengthens the immune system and helps in the proper functioning of the central nervous system.

• It is beneficial in the prevention of cancer.

• It is particularly stable, even at frying temperatures where other vegetable oils are dangerously altered, because it contains high levels of antioxidants. Specifically, it easy to understand when virgin olive oil needs to be changed due to its color change after a lot of frying. All other seed oils, are misleading and dangerously keeping their original color even after a lot of frying.

• There are many flavors and beneficial components in olive oil (sterols, vitamins, salt etc.) that are too beneficial for the human body. 

 

The history of olives and olive oil

According to mythology, the goddess Athena gave two gifts to the ancient Greeks; the wisdom and the olive tree as a source of wealth. The olive and olive oil story begins back in Historic times, since olive oil has been found in clay pots aged 4000 years.

In ancient Greece, the olive tree was closely associated with social and economic life. It was actually directly related to culture, art, poetry, habits, manners and customs, tradition and religion. For the ancient Greeks, olive tree, was considered as holy and highly protected symbol of peace, wisdom, friendship and victory. As we know, during the ancient Olympic Games, winner athletes were crowned with a crown made of wild olive tree branches.

Olive oil or "the gold liquid" according to Homer, in ancient times was not just a food, but also a symbol of health and strength as well as being used in medicine. Specifically, in ancient Greece, athletes used to rub olive oil all over their body because they believed that it would give them strength and luck. Moreover, warriors used to anoint it to the noblemen heads and also the bones of dead saints and martyrs were spattered with olive oil, since this was an emblem of sanctification and chastity.

 Olive oil production and olive tree cultivation is estimated that started in the wider Mediterranean Sea area, about 7000 years ago. The earliest evidence for the cultivation of the olive and the production of olive oil in Greece, according to archaeological findings, shows that it started in Crete about 3,500 years ago.

 

 

© 2013 Terraparavola. All Rights Reserved.