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Everything about olive oil - 26 questions & answers

ελαιόλαδο λάδι

By Αντώνης Παπαδάκης

1.How much olive oil should we consume? 

What quantity is ideal for daily consumption?

Fats are an energy source for the body and also the only way for the human system to absorb the necessary vitamins A, D, E, K for proper functioning. Olive oil is the main fat used in the Greek kitchen. A normal diet should contain 30 - 35 % lipids. 15 % should be derived from olive oil.

2. What should I be careful of when buying olive oil?

The only guarantee to buy unadulterated products with quality and taste that is satisfying, is the persistence in branded olive oils packaged in no more than 5 liters. The inspections carried out in packaged olive oil, as well as the chance it will be rejected by the consumer if he is left dissatisfied, prevent any negligence on the part of the packager. It should be noted that the bulk sale of olive oil in 17 kg containers is banned since 1998, in order to prevent adulteration.
10 practical advices for the purchase of olive oil are mentioned in the chapter with the olive oil categories. It is also a fact that the criteria for choosing olive oils are the subjective judgement of each consumer, which is the taste that we are satisfied with. Try and choose the olive oil which appeals to you, regarding the color, density and full taste. Taste, after all, is the main criteria in food.

 3.How can we know that an olive oil is not suitable for consumption?

The quality of olive oils is ranked by a European regulation. But the first review of an olive oil can be the inspection of characteristics such as color, taste and aroma. Color must be from dark green up to light golden – green. Olive oils with very light colors are usually oxidized or old. An exception is the olive oil from Mytilene that is naturally yellow. The storage conditions of olive oil significantly impact the taste, aroma and color. Light and oxygen help the oxidation and change the taste and aroma of an olive oil. Rancid olive oil gives an aroma of soil and its taste is annoying. The taste and aroma of a good olive oil reminds us of the fruitiness of olive fruits or the aroma of a fruity oil, freshly extracted.

4.Olive oil is heavier than seed oils. Does it contain more calories?

Olive oil has the exact same calories as other seed oils on the market. The difference is in the “body”, meaning the full taste of olive oil, especially virgin, that sometimes is sharp and noticeable on the throat, compared to seed oils that have “flat” flavor.

5.Would it be better to replace other fats (seed oils etc.) with olive oil?

Every food serves a consumers need. Olive oil with its precious health – beneficiary natural antioxidants and its full flavor is ideal for salads and food, while butters and other products for spreading on our bread give the necessary energy and taste for our breakfast and seed oils give the necessary polyunsaturated fatty acids. A balanced diet, according to the modern dietary advice, but also according to our daily needs, is the golden solution for our choices.

6.What is the best storage?

In the good old days olive oil was kept in large jars in the storages of homes, the known “sodiastika”, where families saved their crop of many different foods for their home needs. These storages were usually in the basement, without any sunlight. The modern houses don’t usually have large storage spaces. This is why a dark and cool (10 – 18oC) storage space needs to be chosen, without any humidity. The space under the sink is not ideal due to humidity.

7.These white suspensions appearing inside olive oil are bad for the health? Are they a sign of a bad olive oil? How are they made? What are waxes?

The white suspensions or waxes appearing inside olive oil are a natural consequence of its composition. They are created during storage in low temperatures, which is normal for a product which has not been at any way processed, retaining all its characteristics as it comes from the olive mill.

8.Does olive oil contain preservatives?

No, olive oil does not contain preservatives. It has a lifespan of 12 to 18 months, depending on its storage conditions. In order to always keep a good product, please always check the expiration date on the packaging and store it in a dark, dry place with temperatures of 10 – 18 oC.

9.How long after the expiration date is it ok to consume an olive oil? How do I know that it’s spoiled?

Our people have a wise saying:  “Old wine and fresh olive oil” An olive oil of good quality has a lifespan, under perfect storage conditions, 12 – 18 months. Olive oil is negatively affected by: light, temperature and oxygen. It can be consumed after it’s expired, but probably its taste will be altered (rancid) due to oxidation from light, oxygen or high temperature exposure.

10.Which olive cultivar makes the best olive oil?

The appropriate varieties for the production of olive oil are plenty, due to climatic conditions and methods used for the better exploitation of the olive fruit. The most well-known cultivars that are suitable are: Tsounati, Koroneiki, Koutsouroelia, Lianolia Kerkyras, Throumpolia, Megaritiki, Adramitini, Valanolia or Mytilinia and Agouromanakolia. Vanakolia that is mainly cultivated at Mytilene and Chios, makes an exceptional olive oil with intense taste and aroma. It must be noted that the final quality of an olive oil depends on many other factors such as the soil, altitude etc. and not so much on the olive cultivar.

11.Does olive oil contain any additives?

No, olive oil does not contain any added ingredients.

12.When are fresh olive oils produced?

The harvest of olive fruits starts in November and ends in February. Some years this period is elongated, either starting a bit earlier or ending later, depending on the weather conditions affecting the maturity of the fruit. The harvesting period also differs among territories due to many factors such as the soil and the climate, which are different from north to south and from the islands to the mainland Greece.

13.What is acidity?

Acidity is one of the assessment and ranking indicators of an olive oil. Usually expressed in percentage (i.e. Extra virgin olive oil has an acidity of 0 – 1%) and represents the percentage of free fatty acids. The free acidity, expressed in oleic acid, is 1g per 100g max in extra virgin olive oil. Acidity is affected by many factors like the harvesting method, fruit storage, the maturity stage etc. The long term storaging of the fruit before the extraction, as well as the stacking of fruit in large piles, result in significant alteration in taste, due to the increase in acidity. The increased acidity gives an unpleasant aftertaste in the product. Also, olive oils with high acidity are alternated easier than others.

14.What is virgin olive oil? Are there differences between olive oils and which are they?

Virgin olive oil is the olive oil derived from the olive press only with mechanical and natural means. In our country there are many brands of virgin olive oils. There are differences in their taste and quality, depending on their acidity (extra virgin olive oils range between 0 – 1%), the area of origin, how fresh the olive oil is, the cultivar, the maturity of the fruit, if the olives were infected by the olive fruit fly, the storaging and other factors.

All packaged olive oils are particularly low in acidity, showing the effort and control in the selection of raw materials in terms of branded products.

15.Olive pomace oil is good? What differentiates it from the other oils?

Olive pomace oil is the olive oil that exclusively contains oils, derived from the processing of olive seeds and oils produced directly from olives.

Receiving olive oil from olive seeds and its refinement is carried out under strict control, ensuring its top quality. Blending refined oil with virgin olive oil creates the olive pomace oil, with maximum acidity 1,5 %.

Olive pomace oil has a soft, mild taste, helping to highlight the taste of food cooked with it.

Considered ideal for frying and for recipes with high cooking temperatures, because it can withstand high temperatures.

It must be noted that it is rich in monounsaturated fats and does not contain cholesterol.

16.Where does the difference in taste and aroma of olive oils from different areas lie?

Taste, aroma and in some cases the color of olive oil depend on factors such as the soil, climate and olive cultivar. Also, the organoleptic characteristics of olive oil are affected by the altitude, the sunshine and sometimes from the orientation of olive trees. This makes us notice some differences in the characteristics of olive oils derived from different areas, even if all the other factors are the same. For example, olive oil from rocky soils at the slopes of mountainous areas of Crete and southern Peloponnese is considered to be richer in aroma and flavor and its color its golden green, while olive oil from Mytilene is lighter and smoother in taste and its color is also lighter yellow. Also, the dry and limestone soils give a richer aroma in olive oil compared to wet and clayey soils.

17.What is cold extracted olive oil?

Cold extracted olive oil is the virgin olive oil derived from the extraction of olives without allowing the heating of the olive oil in the olive mill.

Many times that is not the case, when the producer cannot control the conditions of the olive mill.

18.What is organic olive oil?

Organic olive oil is an olive oil derived from olives of organic farming. Organic farming consists of the use of conventional means, friendly to the environment, to fight disease and fertilization. Also, organic farming follows particular practices in the placement and orientation of olive trees in the groves, as well as the pruning.

The fruit fly traps lead to the production of exceptional olive oil from organic and conventional farms, compared to aerial spraying. The label of an organic olive oil must mention the approval number and certification from recognized control bodies like DIO etc.

19.Is it better to use olive oil at the end of cooking? What does that offer?

Olive oil is rich in natural antioxidants like polyphenols and vitamins A and E. Due to these substances and its high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil resists high temperature oxidation. Despite that, it’s better for the olive oil to be added towards the end of cooking, so these precious ingredients as well its organoleptic characteristics remain intact. 

20.Is it true that the olive oil can’t withstand high temperature?

On the contrary, olive oil, due to its natural antioxidants, remains stable even in high temperatures.

21.It is said that olive oil is good. What are the benefits?

The beneficial properties of olive oil are many. It’s very pleasing that the international scientific community keeps recognizing its dietary value that Hippocrates had discovered thousands of years ago. Olive oil is necessary, like all fats, to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. There are indications that it contributes to the heart health, due to its monounsaturated fats, in the prevention of cancer due to its antioxidant microelements (polyphenols), in slowing down the ageing process due to its concentration in Vitamin E (natural antioxidant), in balancing the metabolism, as well as the proper growth of bones and brain in childhood.

22.Is olive oil suitable for diabetics?

Diabetes is either type I (insulin dependent) or type II (non-insulin dependent). Modern dietary standards suggest that for diabetes type II, 30- 40 % of fats should be covered by monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, given that the consumption of olive oil acts favorably in the slow evacuation of the stomach content in the duodenum, resulting in slower digestion of carbohydrates.  This leads to steadier levels of blood glucose and to the avoidance of the activation of the neo-glycogenesis procedure of the liver. The confrontation of diabetes lies on many factors like reducing body weight, reducing the consumption of carbohydrates etc. that’s why patients must be monitored by their physician, who is responsible for administering the proper diet as well as medication.

23.Is olive oil good for the hair?

Olive oil gives shine and health to the hair. In many cases, even now, it is used as a mask for tired or dyed hair. In Crete, girls used to wet their brushes with olive oil to make their hair shiny. Also, in the past, it was used in traditional medicine to cure hair loss and alopecia.

24.Is it true that spreading the hair roots with olive oil helps fight dry skin and dandruff?

Yes, olive oil is used for skin irritations, especially with babies to eliminate the peeling of the scalp of their head.

25.Does olive oil help reduce the effects of alcohol?

A tablespoon of olive oil after intense alcohol consumption restores soberness and calms the stomach, alleviating the unpleasant sensation caused by excessive alcohol consumption. But of course, the best solution for avoiding intoxication and unpleasant consequences is the measured consumption of alcohol, accompanied by food intake.

26.It is said that olive oil helps to remove splinters from the skin if the area is wound with a cloth with olive oil for a few hours. Is it true?

Yes. Traditional medicine has been using olive oil for making ointments for many years. Besides, olive oil is known for skin care from Homeric times. It is also used for the removal of thorns from sea urchin, because it softens the skin and brings the spines to the surface.

Source: epoptes.wordpress.com

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