How To: Olive Oil 101
Written By: Lewis Harrison
The Brussels Sprouts With Olive Oil
I was actually intending to write an article about olive oil and eggplant but since this article came across my desk I figured I’d add a few brussels sprout recipes into the article. Many of my readers are vegans and vegetarians so I like to add vegetarian dinner recipes to my articles.
Let’s begin with information on olive oil
Most students of nutrition and the culinary arts do not realize that technically speaking all food oils, including olive oil are actually fats. In the case of olive oil, this wonderful, nutrition rich product was originally extracted from a fruit that grows in the Mediterranean basin. Olive cultivation can be traced back over 4,500 years most likely to the island of Crete and mentioned in many ancient texts. In fact The first recorded “virgin” oil extraction is in the Hebrew Bible and takes place during Exodus from Egypt, in the 13th century BC. During this time, the oil was derived through hand-squeezing the berries and stored in special containers under guard of the priests. A commercial mill for non-sacramental use of oil was in use in the tribal In Minoan civilization possession of olive oil was related to wealth. Today olive tree and the oil of this fruit is grown throughout the world including Europe and the United states, particularly in California. The best olive oil for cooking is extra virgin because it has no added chemicals.
Olive oil has an illustrious history is among the most versatile of all food oils. It is often used in cooking, as well as in soaps, olive oil for hair goes back to ancient time and as an hernalist I often used olive oil for skin ailments mixed with special herbs. The oil can be used as fuel in oil lamps and specially designed automobile, in food, in cosmetics and in pharmaceutical production, in religious rituals
One of the ways you can extract your oil olive oil is to use a simple process first created by the ancient. Minoans. They put the olive pulp into setting tanks and just waited for the oil to risen to the to. Then they drained the water from the bottom. Today Spain is largest producer of Olive Oil, with Italy second and Greece third. 75% of the world production comes from these three countries. Outside of Europe Australia and the United States are major producers.
Olive oil is classified or graded objectively by how it was produced, by its chemistry and subjectively by committees that perform olive oil taste testings. An organization, the International Olive Council) IOC officially governs 95% of international production and holds great influence over the rest.
- Cold pressed or Cold extraction means “that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually 80 °F (27 °C)) during processing, thus retaining more nutrients and undergoing less degradation.”
First cold pressed means “that the fruit of the olive was crushed exactly one time-i.e., the first press. The cold refers to the temperature range of the fruit at the time it is crushed.” In Calabria (Italy) the olives are collected in October. In regions like Tuscany or Liguria, the olives collected in November and ground often at night are too cold to be processed efficiently without heating. The paste is regularly heated above the environmental temperatures, which may be as low as 10-15 °C, to extract the oil efficiently with only physical means. Olives pressed in warm regions like Southern Italy or Northern Africa may be pressed at significantly higher temperatures although not heated. While it is important that the pressing temperatures be as low as possible (generally below 25 °C) there is no international reliable definition of “cold pressed”.
The best olive oil is produced by grinding whole organically grown olives and extracting the oil by mechanical pressure. This is what produces what is known as extra-virgin organic olive oil. This is the most nutritionally rich and the most desirable of all the varieties of olive oil. When you see a label that says “Pure Olive Oil” but does not state that it is extra virgin what you are most probably getting is a a product that has been extracted by chemical means after the initial “virgin” pressing.
All production of olive oil starts by mechanically separating the pulp from the seed and creating an olive paste. This paste is then slowly churned or mixed to allow the microscopic oil droplets to concentrate. The oil is then extracted by means of pressure (traditional method) or centrifugation (modern method). After extraction the remnant solid substance, called pomace still contains a small quantity of oil. It is this pomace oil that is chemically extracted to create olive oils that cannot be labeled virgin or extra virgin.
Photo Credit: Stonehouse Olive Oil
The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:
- Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The term virgin oil referring to production is different from Virgin Oil on a retail label (see next section).
- Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil; oils with the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil.
- Olive pomace oil means oil extracted from the pomace using solvents, mostly hexane and by heat.
The Brussels Sprout Recipe: Lightly steam the Brussels sprouts and add some Vegit brand low sodium seasoning and basil olive oil (that is olive oiil that has had fresh basil placed in it)
That’s it. Don’t overcook the Brussels sprouts or you might get a bitter taste!