Olive oil

Olive oil . It is the oldest food oil after sesame oil .


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Olive oil in Spain
  • 3 Preparation of Olive Oil
    • 1 Virgin olive oil
    • 2 Refined olive oil
    • 3 Olive oil or pure olive oil
    • 4 olive pomace oil
  • 4 Organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Olive oil as medicine
    • 1 The discovery
    • 2 Anticancer and heart-healthy
  • 6 External link
  • 7 See also
  • 8 Source


The olive tree and its fruits have been present in the history of men and have occupied a relevant place in ancient civilizations. In the Bible alone, up to 200 references to the olive tree or its oil can be found.

Olive oil is the oldest food oil after sesame oil. In ancient times, olive oil was used as food , in medicine and in religious ceremonies. It is difficult to determine where the olive tree appeared but it is believed that it appeared on the shores of the Mediterranean , between Syria and Greece . Its cultivation began on these coasts more than 6,000 years ago and was used immediately for food purposes (the olive ) and for medicinal purposes (the oil extracted with rudimentary methods).

The words from which the names olive and oil derive in all Mediterranean peoples have two unique sources: the Greek term Elaia that gave rise to Olea in Latin and, later, olive, olive, olive, oil, oil, etc. and the Hebrew word Zait that became the Arabic Zaitun – where oil, olives, wild olive and others come from. Oil is a word that originally designated only olive oil. It came from the union of an Arabic nickname and an Aramaic nickname that literally meant the juice of the olive.

The cultivation of the olive tree was promoted in Greece and was considered very important. Greeks and Phoenicians carried olive and olive oil – olive oil extraction techniques have been perfected for 3000 years – throughout the Mediterranean.

In Athens , for example, the olive tree was the symbol of the city and its sacred tree. The Phoenicians were the ones who brought cultivation techniques to Spain back in 1050 BC along with the Greeks years later. There is no doubt that his legacy is important, but it was the Romans who planted the olive peninsula. Emperor Hadrian even minted coins with an olive branch and an inscription that read ‘Hispana’. The Romans improved the techniques of cultivation and elaboration of olive oil, being Rome a great oil importing city.

Later the Arabs increased their cultivation until the fall of their empire reduced consumption in Africa . In the Middle Ages only one interest moved the world, the war, so olive oil was relegated to the upper classes and as a luxury item.

With the arrival of Columbus in America in 1492 , Andalusia and Extremadura contributed to the olive tree reaching beyond the seas, mainly in Peru , Chile , Argentina and Mexico .

Today they can also be found in California , Chile and other places in South America . Despite the fact that today it can be found all over the world, it is the Mediterranean area, its origin, where most of the production is centered and Spain is the country with the most olive trees and the highest production of olive oil in the world.

Olive oil in Spain

Olive oil has a historical tradition in Spain that dates back to the Phoenician era. It is believed that they were the ones who propagated the cultivation of the olive tree through the Greek islands until reaching the coasts of Spain more than 3,000 years ago.

Olive oil has come a long way from the time when the Romans used olive oil as medicine , to the present day when olive oil is used by prestigious chefs to prepare the most refined gourmet dishes or is Present in laboratories of reputed scientists who tell why its properties.

The production of olive oil, covers from Extremadura to Catalonia following a route that leads through the fields of Andalusia , Murcia , Castilla la Mancha , Valencia and Aragon , marking the different designations of origin for olive oil.

The olive grove that designs the landscapes in each area largely depends on the history of the place and the olive that has been most adapted to soil conditions , climate and the needs of the farmer.

The consumption of olive oil is a fundamental part of the Mediterranean and Spanish diet, Spain also occupying the first place in the production and sale of olive oil in the world.

Extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits and that is why the increasing sale of olive oil has also generated an increase in olive production and cultivation, although the price of olive oil continues to be higher than the rest of the oils. It is very good for the cardiovascular system , promotes bone growth and calcium absorption , excellent to prevent skin aging , prevents cancer and diabetes .

Not all types of olive oil are the same. As in wines , they have a very high sensory complexity, both aromatic and gustatory. These differences in olive oil depend on the land, the elaboration and the variety of olives used in the mill. The most seasoned gourmet will know how to differentiate all the nuances and choose the best olive oil.

The culinary greatness of olive oil is not just that of completely changing a dish in terms of its presence, aroma and flavor.

Among the types of olive oils and in order of best quality can be classified:

  • Olive-pomace oil. It is obtained from the remains of the olives after having extracted the virgin olive oil. Then it is mixed with refined virgin olive oil. The maximum acidity is 0.5º.
  • Olive oil. It is the mixture of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. Refined olive oil is that derived from poor quality or rampant oil which has undergone a purification process. The maximum acidityis 1.5º.
  • Virgin olive oil. It is the oil obtained only by mechanical procedures in conditions that do not cause oil alterations and that has not undergone any chemical treatment. The maximum acidity is 2º.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. It is virgin olive oil whose maximum acidity does not exceed 0.8º.
  • Organic extra virgin olive oil. For consumers looking to buy the best in stores, you can find organic extra virgin olive oil. The price of organic olive oil is significantly more expensive, but it is an authentic gourmet product, because this olive oil is produced by cultivating the olive grove without chemicals, which gives it even better properties.

Elaboration of Olive Oil

Olive oil is extracted from the olive (Olea Europea). The composition of the olive at the time of harvesting is highly variable, depending on the variety of olives, the soil , the climate and the crop. Approximately the olive contains, at the time of harvesting:

  • Oil: 18-32%
  • Water: 40-55%
  • Vegetable boneand tissue : 23-35%.

Different phases are distinguished in the process of obtaining and preparing olive oil. The first of these is reception, cleaning and storage.

Once the olive is harvested, it arrives at the mill where it must be cleaned of leaves, rabits and mud, if they have one. Later you have to prepare the pasta. This operation consists of grinding and shaking. The grinding aims to break the cells where the oil is contained , while the shake aims to form a continuous oil base, suitable to be separated.

Obtaining virgin olive oil is carried out basically by two methods, pressure or centrifugation. The paste from the olives is beaten and distributed in layers to put it under pressure in hydraulic presses or the paste is centrifuged obtaining three phases (oil, alpechin and pomace). Then it will depend on whether the oil continues to be treated and how one of the following types of oil is obtained:

Virgin olive oil

Oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical procedures, under conditions that do not cause alteration of the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decanting, spinning and filtering, excluding the oils obtained by means of solvent, by means of a chemical or biochemical adjuvant , or by a re-esterification procedure and of any mixture with oils of another nature (they may be fine, lampant or extra). Within the extra virgin olive oil it should also be noted, organic extra virgin olive oil.

Refined olive oil

Olive oil obtained by refining virgin olive oils. It is pale in color, its acidity does not reach 0.2º so it has hardly any flavor and contains very few vitamins , phytosterols and substances responsible for aroma.

Olive oil or pure olive oil

It is a mixture of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. Its acidity must not exceed 1º. It is the most common oil on the market.

Olive pomace oil

The residue that remains together with the solid residues of the olive once the first oil has been separated by cold pressing is the worst quality and needs to be refined until its maximum acidity reaches 0.3º.

Among the different types of olive oil, virgin and pure olive oil are the richest in vitamin E (antioxidant action) and phytosterols (substances that help reduce levels of cholesterol in blood ). All oils stand out for their high content of monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid.

Among them, organic olive oil stands out especially for being free of chemical substances, from the time the olive tree is planted until the olive is ground.

Organic extra virgin olive oil

The oil of organic extra virgin olive oil is olive oil at its highest quality in every way, both in culture and in the careful preparation, a delight for authentic gourmet palate.

It is an oil with many more qualities as it lacks chemical residues and from a gastronomic point of view, its flavor enhances any cooking recipe made with it. All varieties of olives produce excellent organic olive oils as long as the olives are healthy, grown under the requirements of organic farming, milled the same day of harvest and the oil is properly stored.

Organic extra virgin olive oil is obtained from an oil mill authorized to make organic oil and must come from olives grown without using synthetic chemical plant protection products or chemical fertilizers and using other cultivation techniques that guarantee that the oil from these olives it does not have any pesticide residue or any other component harmful to the consumer’s health . In addition, the olive that gives organic olive oil has been cultivated with a deep respect for the environment on the farm.

To obtain a quality organic extra virgin olive oil, it is essential to collect the fruit at the optimal moment of ripening. They are harvested with careful care so as not to damage the olives and they must be brought to the mill soon so they do not spoil.

The same day they are harvested they are ground, otherwise, the storage time would make them lose qualities. In the mill the olive is cleaned, washed and classified according to quality and variety. With mechanical grinders they re-break the plant tissues to be able to release the organic extra virgin olive oil. The result is a homogeneous paste. The paste is cold pressed and releases the oil and water . Either by decantation or by centrifugation, organic extra virgin olive oil is obtained and separated from the water.

Once the organic olive oil is separated, it must be kept in stainless steel tanks or vitrified trout. Should not reach the light of the sun , there should be no sudden movements and temperature should be smooth and steady. Only in this way will the qualities of organic olive oil be preserved.

Almost all the autonomous communities in Spain exercise control and certification of organic farming products through the Organic Farming Councils or Committees, which are bodies responsible for ensuring compliance with Regulation 2092/91, which guarantees that organic extra virgin olive complies with all the requirements and guarantees in each of the processes of its production until it reaches the consumer.

Olive oil as medicine

The discovery

The history of science owes a large part of its findings to pure chance and, on this occasion, it could not be less. Beauchamp realized in a conference Gastronomy molecular in Sicily that the oil extra virgin produced in the throat a slight itching irritation like leaving the ibuprofen to being consumed. The scientist had already worked in this regard with this well-known drug.

Thus, on his return, Gary Beauchamp and a group of scientists set to work to isolate the chemical compound that generated the itch. They named it oleocanthal ( olive oil , itchy canth and aldehyde canth) and found that, like ibuprofen or aspirin , it is capable of inhibiting the activity of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, on which the action of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers .

According to the study, 50 grams of extra virgin olive oil contains up to 200 micrograms of oleocanthal, equivalent to 10% of the recommended dose of ibuprofen for relief of adult pain.

Anticancer and heart-healthy

A natural product being a pure, just the juice of the olive , the oil virgin olive oil or extra virgin, is full of very healthy properties. It is no secret that this product is one of the greatest allies when it comes to fighting cholesterol .

Its high content of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, helps to reduce the rate of bad cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular diseases , which is why it is highly recommended to consume it raw. In addition, the extra virgin is rich in vitamins A, D, K and especially in E, very beneficial for the tissues , in addition to protecting against certain tumors , heart disease and arteriosclerosis . Also, its antioxidant power improves the quality of the body, that everything works correctly, prevents aging . Antioxidants are the source of eternal youth.

Although more studies are still required to specify the anti-cancer power of olive oil, some scientists already point in this direction in their respective works. For example, Spanish experts in Oncology demonstrated that oleic acid is an important asset in slowing down the activity of a gene involved in 20% of the most dangerous breast tumors . Statistics also insist on this relationship: in Spain , where olive oil is the basis of the diet, breast and colon cancers are 28% and 42% less frequent than the European Union average .

This is considered to be due to the healthy effects of virgin olive oil. As it contributes to improving the state of health , indirectly, it can be anticancer. For example, it fights constipation and improves digestions , which is used to fight colon cancer . But, as it happens with practically all the foods , it is necessary to consume it in its right measure.


by Abdullah Sam
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