HISTORY

  • Olive oil has long been considered one of the greatest natural assets of the ancient world (and sometimes worth its weight in gold). It has consistently offered humanity the gifts of health and wealth, and is as complex and delicious as wine.

  • Since antiquity, olive branches have been a symbol of peace – perhaps because olive trees were an agricultural offering bestowed to the colonies  after they were subjugated in battle.  Archaeological records indicate olives have been eaten for over 35,000 years, and that man has cultivated the tree for at least 6,000years. The olive tree ranges in height from 10 to 40 feet, or more, and can attain a great age — some in the eastern Mediterranean are estimated to be over 2,000 years old. About 6,000 years ago, in the Fertile Crescent-  what is today Syria and Palestine -olives   first began to be cultivated. The practice quickly spread to Crete, flourishing in the island's dry climate.  Cretans became wealthy by exporting the oil and making lotions and cosmetics from it.  In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena gave the olive tree to the Greeks to win their loyalty. And ever since, they've taken their olive oil very seriously. When athletes rubbed it over their bodies before competition, it protected their skin from abrasions and the elements.According to Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’, olive oil could heal numerous ailments, among them mental illness, and what Hippocrates charmingly referred to as “the diseases of women”. It offered light when burned and was used by priests to consecrate the dead. The trees were so sacred that those who cut one down were condemned to death.Brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks, the Romans aped their predecessors in admiration for the oil. The Roman Empire’s prodigious growth and colonial expansion brought trees to Spain and other colonies in    the Iberian Peninsula. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, olive cultivation declined for a thousand years. Olive oil steadily regained its role in the Middle Ages, however, when the Roman CatholicChurch used it in rituals and anointings, namely the Oil of the Catechumens and Oil of the Sick, and to consecrate priests.

  • In the 16th century, Spanish explorers and missionaries introduced the olive to the New World, planting trees in Mexico, Argentina,and California,  where it continues to grow today. Its real success in the New World, however, has been in Americans’ consumption of olive oil, which has increased dramatically in the past decades and made America the second largest market outside of Europe. Nearly all the olive oil consumed is imported from Europe, as America only produces 0.5% of world olive oil demands.  

THE OLIVE TREE

  • There is something surprisingly modest about olive trees, given their noble history and legendary reputation, going back far before biblical times.            Quite often, there is nothing particularly breathtaking or impressive about the tree’s height or girth; nothing striking or exotic about its leaves or fragrance. The ancient trees grow in wondrous, tangled ways, with trunks resembling characters in fairy tales. The olive tree is one of the  heartiest of all trees on the planet: able to survive salt water, adapting itself to almost any sunny and temperate environment, able to thrive in most soils, retaining its leaves year round, and living in some cases more than a thousand years, occasionally bearing fruit for centuries. Olive trees are slow to grow, taking four or five years     to yield their first fruits and another 10 to 15 to reach their full capacity.The wood of the olive tree resists decay, and when the top of the tree is killed by bad weather or human mistakes, a new trunk will grow back from the roots. Despite harsh winters and burning summers, the olive continues to grow and produce fruit. The branches are able to carry a large amount of fruit on their numerous twigs, which are so flexible    that they sway with the slightest breeze but remain very strong.Olive leaves are thick and leathery. Each leaf grows over a 2-year period and flowers bloom in late spring. They are small and white, grouped in loose clusters in the axels of the leaves. There are two different kinds of flowers: perfect flowers, containing both male and female parts, which are capable   of developing into the olive fruits; and staminate flowers, male only, which contain the pollen-producing parts.  

WHAT MAKES GREEK OLIVE OILS SO UNIQUE? 

  • There are 800 million olive trees in the world with 700 million of them in the Mediterranean area and 140 million of them in Greece. 
  • Olive oil is a very important part of Greek nutrition. The Greek consumer is very particular to the oil he uses in his diet. He has known it for years      has identified himself with it and will not accept anything less than the quality he is used to. Olive oil is considered a sacred food in Greece and no alterations or changes of any kind are allowed. Greece has laws that regulate the quality of olive oil and these laws are strictly enforced for the protection of the consumer. But more important than that, the Greek farmer takes a special pride in the production of olive oil.
  • Extra care is taken at all stages of olive oil production and packaging and standards are kept very high indeed. Greek olive oil production is in excess of 420,000 tons annually. Greece, even though quite small, holds 3rd place among the olive oil producing countries. Per capita consumption on the other hand is the highest in the world - 19 kilos annually.Still, there is enough left for almost half of the annual production (app. 190,000 tons) to be exported. In fact Greece is the world's largest exporter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The olive oil industry in the world is well aware of the superior quality and the excellent organoleptic properties of Greek olive oil. The presence of Greek branded olive oil in the international market has for many years been limited. It was not easy for the average consumer to find Greek olive oil. In recent years though there has been a steady change.   Greek exports have increased greatly. Still, in 2012, U.S imports of Greek olive oils, where 5,000 tons. Compare to Italy’s 150,000 tons!  This increase to a certain extent reflects the upward swing in overall olive oil consumption due to the shift towards healthy nutrition and the  consequent proliferation of Mediterranean cuisine. And as the international consumer learns to recognize the value of olive oil, he comes to recognize what the experts already know: the incomparable virtues and personality of Greek olive oil. Price wise it is usually more expensive than other olive oils but so is the best quality in all food products; you can't have champagne for the price of a common sparkling wine. 

Mana Gea: FROM THE LAND OF MONEMVASIA 

  • In the South East of Greece, in the Region of Laconia, around 350kms from Athens and 100km from Sparta, one can find one of the most historic    and exciting regions, Monemvasia. An area covered by the blessed Olive trees. The land is not spoiled by massive tourism and retaining original charm of countryside.Our Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mana Gea is obtained from our farms from few small villages around the region of Monemvasia, and reflects our philosophy and practice, which is passed from generation to generation, for more than 200 years. The Monemvasia Region benefits from higher elevation, which contributes to periods of lower winter temperatures and a moderate rainy season. The area advances of long periods of sunshine,limited rainfalls and moisture.
  • This together with the sea breeze of the Sea of Mirtoo, and the rich red soil of the region, allow the secret combination of “Koroneiki” and “Athinoelia” varieties to give this superb full taste, aroma, richness in nutrient vitamins and low acidity  which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  


HOW OLIVE OIL IS MADE.

  • Like wine grapes, olives do not go well with mechanization. It’s a fact that the quality of the oil decreases with the increase of mechanization and  electric tools because the more gently the olives are treated the better the resulting oil. Electric-powered tools for harvesting olives do exist,             but the branches and olives can suffer. 
  • The weather at the time of harvest is of great importance, and experienced farmers know when it’s the right moment to start - before the wet, cold   days of fall set in. It’s impossible to pick olives in rain, wind, or fog for many reasons: besides the obvious dangers and difficulties of climbing trees    and ladders in wind and rain, moisture can cause the olives to spoil in their crates before they are taken to the mill, for pressing. Fortunately, Monemvasia is usually blessed with many splendid, sunny fall days for harvesting olives. 
  • 1- Harvesting: Production of olive oil begins with the harvest, the timing of which is a major factor in the final product. The first picking of the olives starts as early as September, when the olives are under ripe and still green. They yield little oil, but their flavor is intense. These oils have the longest shelf life and are richer in sensory properties such as flavor and aroma. Oil from olives harvested early has a low percentage of acid and a characteristic deep green color. This oil has a strong peppery taste and is highly appreciated and sought after byolive oil connoisseurs, as it is not readily available. Normal picking time begins in November when the fruit turns from greenish to purple-black. The best time to pick is when the fruit is three quarters black. It is then that the best bouquet and low acidity is achieved. Harvests generally come between early November and let December. Some olives are harvested in the red-ripe stage and blended with the earlier harvested oil to create a more balanced product.  The fruit is handpicked manually from the trees, using ladders to reach the upper branches and a rake-like device, which is dragged over the branches by hand causing the olives to fall onto nets or large fabric pieces that are spread on the ground around the tree. At the same time that the olive fruit is picked, the tree is trimmed as required. This is a job that calls for the whole family to help.    Even relatives that live in cities are invited to join and share the hard work under difficult weather conditions at times. Neighbors, friends and relatives help each other by picking each other’s olives when theirs are not ready yet or they are waiting for the next lot. Everyone shares in this strenuous,   time consuming and exhausting effort. Since olives are delicate, the best oils are made from olives that are picked by hand or by machines that do not beat or bruise the fruit. Depending on the size of the tree, it can take two people between two hours to half a day to pick an olive tree. A good harvester can pick about 160 lbs of olives each day and it takes 10 lbs of olives to make a liter (2 Gal)  of oil. This is why olive oil is so expensive compared to other oils. 
  • 2- Milling and Pressing: Olives should be crushed within the first 24 or 36 hours of picking. If left to wait, the level of acidity rises, creating olive oil    of poor quality. Just before being crushed, the olives need to be run through a washer to eliminate any remaining impurities. Generally the olives are crushed whole, without prior stoning in roller mills. The simplest method of crushing olives is with a varying number of granite millstones. The olive paste obtained through milling is layered on nylon, or natural fiber, mats,  which are stacked high, with metal disks between them. These mats of olive pulp are then subject to a great deal of pressure from a screw or hydraulic press. The liquid produced by the pressing drains through the mats and cylinder and is collected for the final separation. This liquid is made up of water and oil that need to be separated from one another. The liquid is put through a centrifugal separator,where the rapid spinning eliminates all remaining water and all of the impurities from the oil. After centrifugation, oil appears amber in color, with an opaque quality- a characteristic feature of superior oils. The more acidic the oil, the clearer and brighter it appears, and the worse it is for your health. Extra–virgin olive oil is the oil that comes out of the first pressing. It is considered one of the few truly healthy oils because it is a mono-unsaturated fat with high amounts of potent anti-oxidants, and a low content of cholesterol.Oils processed by anything but centrifuges and mechanical or hydraulic presses cannot be called Extra Virgin olive oil. 

OLIVE OILS CLASSIFICATION 

  • Rich, beautiful, and fragrant, olive oil is much like wine -- taste is a matter of personal preference. The many variables that go into the production of olive oil yield dramatic differences in color, aroma, and flavor. And several names are used to differentiate all of these versions, which you'll learn  about here. 
  • The following factors impact the taste of olive oil: Variety of olive used Location and soil conditions where the olives were grown Environmental factors and weather during the growing season Olive ripeness Timing of the harvest Harvesting method Length of time between the harvest and pressing Pressing technique Packaging and storage methods. When buying olive oil, you'll see varieties from all over the globe.                                          Here's what you need to know about olive oil and geography:                                                                                                                                              Spanish olive oil is typically golden yellow with a fruity, nutty flavor. Spain produces about 45 percent of the world's olive supply.                                          Italian olive oil is often dark green and has an herbal aroma and a grassy flavor. Italy grows about 20 percent of the world's olives.                                    Greek olive oil packs a strong flavor and aroma and tends to be green. Greece produces about 13 percent of the world's olive supply.                                French olive oil is typically pale in color and has a milder flavor than other varieties.                                                                                                        Californian olive oil is light in color and flavor, with a bit of a fruity taste. California produces about 0.5 percent of the world’s olive.
  • At the head of the olive oil class are the extra-virgins, followed closely by the virgins. The difference between these two oils and where they rank in    the following hierarchy may be just half a percentage point of acidity. However, that is all it takes to distinguish between very good oil and great oil.  The difference is reflected in the flavor and the pricing.
  • Let’s start with the term ‘Virgin.’ That means that the olive oil is extracted from the olives by mechanical means, rather than with solvents and high heat. All other readily available vegetable oils – canola, safflower, peanut, etc – even non-virgin olive oil – are chemically dissolved out of the plant material, and then the solvent is boiled off. Unless the label on a vegetable or nut oil indicates that it has been expelled or expressed (and the price confirms this expensive method), you can assume it has gone through chemical processing.
  • Now, for the term ‘Extra Virgin.’ This means that the virgin olive oil has passed chemical tests for purity and taste tests to assure the absence of spoilage flavors. You should be able to count on getting a healthy, tasty olive oil, possessing the flavors of the olive fruit.Unfortunately, only two states in the U.S. have just recently adopted the international standards for this designation, and the term is widely misused here for oils that may not even come from olives. That’s why it is best, here in the United States, to buy EVO oil that is certified as Extra Virgin, and certainly to avoid bargain-priced ‘Extra Virgins.’ Extra virgin olive oil is produced just by pressing the olives, without heating.  It has the most olive flavor with a minimum of bitterness.  Virgin olive oil can involve the application of some heat and more pressing, and unlabeled oil can even involve some chemicals to extract the most oil.The virgin and regular oils have less olive taste, though they also burn a bit less easily, so they're better for cooking.  Extra virgin is usually used raw, since its flavor is lost when heating it.
  • Most of the governments in the world are members of the IOOC, International Olive Oil Council, (Except the U.S) which requires member governments to promulgate laws making olive oil labels conform to the IOOC standards.                                                                                                                              Extra-virgin olive oil (sometimes called EVOO) comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to   have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil.                                                                                                                                         Virgin olive oil has acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.                                                 Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined olive oil and one of the above two categories of virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined oil, containing no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.                                                                Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil.                    Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in  a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.                                                                   Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil's ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil / IOOC Standards: Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and  a flavor of fresh olives. Extra virgin olive oil which comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains higher levels of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E because it is less processed. Extra virgin is sweeter, and does better in recipes than regular Virgin olive oil.In chemical terms Extra Virgin olive oil is described as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and a peroxide value of less  than 20 milliequivalent O2. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade  the oil (less than 86°F, 30°C). The quality of Virgin olive oil can very pretty significantly. The 'Extra' in extra virgin means that the Virgin olive oil is tested extensively in the lab and taste testing to meet certain standards. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) has less then .8% of oleic acid when other food grades can have up to 2-3.3%. If they determine it has no defect it is then labeled 'Extra Virgin'. The testing assures that only the highest quality olive oils are labeled Extra Virgin. In order for an oil to qualify as “Extra Virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council.  The olive oil must be found to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitiness.
  • Since Extra Virgin olive oil is simply pressed fruit juice without additives, the factors influencing its quality and taste include the varieties of olives used, the terroir and the countless decisions, production practices and the dedication of the producer.Many factors play a role in the flavor and composition of a good olive oil. Flavors vary distinctly by variety and by the degree of ripeness at the time of harvest. Unlike wine, olives can be harvested over a period of several months during which they slowly ripen from green to multi-colored to purple and finally to black. Each stage of ripening yields a different quantity and flavor of oil. Different weather patterns and variable production factors also have an effect. The miller’s blending skills determine the final composition prior to bottling.
  • Olive oil tasters describe the positive attributes using the following terms:                                                                                                                              Fruity: Having pleasant spicy fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives. Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral. Green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies by the variety of olive.                                                     Bitter: Creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.Bitterness, along with pungency and vegetal/fruit flavors are considered positive attributes in EVO olive oils, particularly when they are well balanced. Depending on many factors, such as the olive variety and ripeness,  milling technique, and the age of the oil, the bitterness and pungency can be quite intense. Sometimes professional tasters jokingly classify EVO oils  as ‘one-cough, two-cough or three-cough’ oils. Fortunately, these strong olive oils make wonderful condiments. These strong flavors are evidence of  a healthy amount of antioxidants in the oil. When oil does not have these strong flavors it is almost devoid of any antioxidants. These strong flavors are very good for your health. Pungent: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat. A good olive oil has vitality; it is alive – like a good wine. It smells of the fresh vegetal world. In your mouth, the flavors bloom and then linger. Poor oils are an inert experience – no smell, little to no flavor, and often a distinctly oily texture, compared to a good olive oil. If they are old, there may be a slight but persistent rancid smell and flavor, like old peanuts or old oil paints.
  • Filtered or Unfiltered? The suspended particles in unfiltered oils may at first give an extra boost of flavors , but these very particles threaten the    life of the oil with spoilage. The sediment contains microbes that decompose the bits of olive flesh and produce off-flavors called ‘fusty,’ ‘musty’ and ‘winey’ by olive oil experts. Even unfiltered oils certified as Extra Virgin in their youth, may develop these off-flavors over time. This is an excellent choice for the olive oil connoisseur but you need to be aware of the limited shelf life, Filtering removes the risk of this type of spoilage, and allows  an 18 months shelf life. 
  • Organic Olive Oil / IOOC Standards: All plants have natural enemies, and olive trees are no different. Olives are susceptible to a pest known as    the olive fly, which lives inside the olive and makes a feast of the fruit. Fungus is another adversary of olives, although olive flies are a bigger threat.Some growers use pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides to protect their crops when necessary. If you'd like to avoid these chemicals, buy organic .In  Greece there are strict guidelines governing the use of the term "organic" on labels.  
  •  Our label says " Certified Organic," and we have proven to Hellias, the certification organism working with the Greek  Department of Agriculture that  the oil is made with olives that were grown without chemicals, among other requirements.  One reason why many of us have remained uninformed about organic olive oil is the lack of information on it. Google the phrase “organic olive oil” and the search results primarily yield product pitches, not facts or science. Customer feedback only adds to the confusion, with many reviewers making claims about either the advantages or “false hype” around organic oils without citing sources.More thorough research, however, sheds some light on the benefits of organic olive oil, grown almost  entirely in Europe, and the disadvantages of its conventional opposite.  One thing made immediately clear: Like most organic farming, the certification process for olive oil is strict, while virtually nonexistent for conventionally produced oil. It is certainly possible and indeed desirable to produce certified organic olive oil that is at once high quality and reasonably priced.The major cost differential to produce certified organic olive oil, as opposed to organic olive oil, is the substantial cost of certification.
  • Most small farmers and producers cannot afford to pay the thousands of dollars that it costs to become certified. All other costs and practices are the same. Most producers of organic olives opt to harvest their fruit late in order to get the maximum yield. Since most consumers of organic olive oil choose organic for considerations other than taste, producers are not under the same pressure they might otherwise be in a more epicurean or taste driven market. These factors make it difficult to find high-quality, reasonably priced, certified organic olive oil.How To Buy and Store Olive Oil Remember - Olives are fruit - olive oil is a fruit juice. Air, heat, and light will cause olive oil to turn rancid  (rancid is the flavor which is imparted in an oil after it has undergone the process of oxidation). Since prolonged contact with oxygen is the rot cause  of oxidation, rancidity is a common defect, so it should be stored in a cool place in an airtight container). Olive oil will not improve with time like wine does. When looking for a good EVO oil, always check the vintage date. If there’s no date, then there’s no way to know how old the oil really is.            
  • Ideal Storing Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 57°F or 14 degrees C, although a normal room temperature of 70ºF works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. A kitchen cabinet located away from the stove and away from direct sunlight will work quite well. If you have a wine cellar, store your olive oils there and keep a small amount in your kitchen. Do not put olive oil in a container without a tight cap.                                                                                                                                                                                  Refrigeration: Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended for expensive extra virgin varieties because condensation may develop in the bottle, affecting the flavor. When chilled, or in cold weather, the oil may turn cloudy and even solidify. Such oil will clear again as it warms, so cloudiness should not be taken as an indication that the oil is past its prime. Refrigeration will extend the life of olive oil without harming the oil. Doing so will cause it to congeal and turn cloudy, but should not affect flavor. If refrigerated, olive oil will return to its original, liquid state when warmed to room temperature again. Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended.                                              Bottles: Be sure olive oil bottles are tightly sealed. Tinted glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are the best materials for containers; oil should never be stored in plastic or in reactive metals. Stay away from plastic containers as the oil can absorb PVCs. There is probably no other single factor more responsible for the degradation of olive oil than improper packaging and storage. Olive oil is highly perishable and breaks down when exposed to ultra violet light. Never store olive oil in clear plastic or glass containers for a prolonged period of time. In addition, olive oil oxidizes when exposed to air.  The larger the surface area exposure the more rapid oxidation occurs. Once an olive oil container is opened the natural breakdown and increase in peroxide values is accelerated, creating rancid oil. Partially filled containers deteriorate much more rapidly. On your next trip to the gourmet store, notice that nearly all high-quality olive oil is packaged in UV protected packages. Olive oil will soften in flavor and intensity if exposed to light for a prolonged period of time. If the olive oil is to be consumed in a short period of time (one to two weeks), then repacking or decanting into clear glass will not noticeably harm the oil if stored in the dark. Avoid olive oil that is packed and displayed on store shelves in unprotected containers.  Over 98% of the olive oil sold in the United States has traveled via ocean freight from the Mediterranean and may have been in the bottle for months before it makes the thirty-to-sixty-day crossing to the United States. It may be months longer before that oil makes its way to the retail outlet where it is finally purchased. This is particularly troublesome when it comes to the more expensive slow moving oils that sit for months in distribution. The problem is compounded by the fact that these same expensive oils are generally not used quickly but left partially used in cupboards for prolonged periods of time. Once the oil is exposed to air and light deterioration is accelerated. It is a fact that much of the olive oil consumed in the United States is rancid before it is completely consumed. It is also true that a significant portion of olive oil sold in the United States is rancid before it is even purchased and would fail to pass a grading test if it had to be retested. Many consumers do not actually taste the olive oil before they use it. Olive oil is a spice. Taste and smell the oil before you use it. If the olive oil has so much as a hint of rancidity,return it. Avoid olive oils that do not have a clear packaging date. Avoid oils that have been in the bottle or container for more than 12 months. Oils packed in clear unprotected containers will deteriorate much more rapidly than UV protected ones.   When it comes to high quality olive oil, fresher is always better.


THE IMPORTANCE OF READING THE LABELS

  • In the grocery store, there are so many choices. There's virgin, extra virgin, pure, 100%, light, cold pressed and many combinations thereof. The titles do have standards associated with thembased on how it is produced and relative acidity .... in other countries, that is. In the U.S., which is not a member country of the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), required retail grades of olive oil are much less rarefied. That means any U.S. manufacturer of olive oil can say almost whatever they want.
  • When choosing an olive oil, read the label carefully to know where it was produced and to try to discern whether the terms used on the label are being used within IOOC guidelines or not. Olive oils that adhere to IOOC guidelines follow these standards: 
  • Acidity. You may see an acidity number on the label; the lower the number, the better the flavor. To be called extra-virgin,the Department of Agriculture says, oil must have a free-fatty-acid content, expressed as oleic acid, of no more than 0.8 percent per 100 grams. Many factors affect acidity levels, including the maturity of the fruit, harvesting and pressing practices, cleanliness of the presses, and whether the olives were picked off the ground or from the tree.Look at our acidity level! 0.2% this is almost 4 times lower than what is regulated for Extra Virgin Olive Oils. And as you know the lower the acidity the better the quality.
  • First cold press. The term means when olives are crushed under huge stone wheels, the paste then spread across mats, and mechanical pressure applied to squeeze out the oil. That procedure has been replaced by more high-tech techniques, though some producers still incorporate stones insophisticated machinery. As for "cold," all extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olive paste produced through"cold" or mechanical means,  without the use of heat or chemicals.  
  • Color. Among olive oil’s many hues: pale yellow, almost honey gold, deep yellow-green, and bright green. Color isn’t linked to quality, but it can hint at an oil’s general character. A golden hue suggests the use of ripe olives, which tends to result in nutty, buttery, or fresh, flowery notes.  Green signals fruit that’s not fully mature, which may convey a sharp, bitter (in a good way) taste reminiscent of fresh-cut grass, unripe banana, tart apple, or other herbs and vegetables.
  • Olive oil vendors choose the wording on their labels very carefully.                                                                                                                                      "100% Pure Olive Oil" is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label.                                                      "Made from refined olive oils" suggests that the essence was captured, but in fact means that the taste and acidity were chemically produced.         "Light olive oil" actually means refined olive oil, not a lower fat content. All olive oil have 120 calories per tablespoon                                                      "From hand-picked olives" may indicate that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.                                                                                                                                                                         "First cold press" means that the oil in bottles with this label is the first oil that came from the first press of the olives. The word cold is important   because if heat is used, the olive oil's chemistry is changed.

THE IMPORTANCE OF READING THE NUTRITION FACTS

  • When we often think of oil, we immediately think of how bad for you oil is and ways to avoid it. But when consumed in moderation, oil can be a healthy way to enjoy weight loss. One tablespoon of olive oil has 119 calories, which may seem like too many calories for a tablespoon but not when combined with a well balanced diet. After all, the right kind of fat is essential to a healthy diet. Olive oil has 14 grams of fat, only 2 grams from saturated fat. With no cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber or protein you’re probably beginning to see why olive oil nutrition facts are so appealing to dieters.Olive oil has no minerals and very few vitamins, but adding a little to your diet can give you 10% of your recommended daily value of vitamins E and K. Olive oilnutrition facts also reveal 103 micrograms of omega-3 fatty acids, making sure you get some essential nutrients in your diet.In order to understand the nutritional make-up of olive oil, we'll first need to go over the different kinds of fats.
  • Olive oil contains monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats.Certain fats (or "fatty acids" in chemistry lingo) are classified as saturated because in their molecular construction, the carbon is saturated with as much hydrogen as it can hold. Meat and dairy are big sources of this type of fat. Saturated fats are notorious as the "bad fats" because they promote bad cholesterol.Unsaturated fats, as you might guess, do have carbon with room for added hydrogen. This is because they have a double carbon bond. Unsaturated fats come in different forms as well. Often abbreviated MUFAs, monounsaturated fatty acids have one double carbon bond and are especially good for cholesterol levels.They lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increase HDL ("good") cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double carbon bond, are generally good for you in moderation and can help lower cholesterol.Actually, all oils contain these kinds of fats; it's the proportions that make the nutritional difference. To give you an idea of the different proportions in a typical extra virgin olive oil, a serving size (1 tablespoon) contains about 2 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 10 grams of monounsaturated fat.
  • Olive oil is high in a particular monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Depending on various factors, such as the kind of olives used to make the oil and even the soil used to grow them, olive oil is typically 55 percent to 85 percent oleic acid.In addition to oleic acids, olive oil contains some important polyunsaturated fats. Namely, these are an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid and an omega-6 fatty acid known as linoleic acid. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, such as phenols and tocopherols as well as vitamin E.                                                                                                                     Free Acidity: This is a crude indicator of the quality of the fruit and handling procedures prior to milling. It is a measurement of hydrolytic breakdown of the fatty acid chains from triglycerides into diglycerides andmonoglycerides, liberating free fatty acids. It is determined easily with a titration of potassium hydroxide that neutralizes the acidity. It is usually expressed as percent (%) free fatty acids on the basis of the oleic acid,because that is the predominant fatty acid in olive oil. It is commonly called the percent acidity or free acidity percent. Free acidity in an oil is not the same as sourness or acidity in other foods. Free fatty acids (acidity) cannot be tasted in olive oil, at least not at the levels normally present.                                                                         Peroxide Value: This is a crude indicator of the amount of primary oxidation that has occurred, forming peroxide compounds within the oil. A highvalue indicates that the olives or paste was likely handled improperly, the oil could be defective, and the oil might not keep well. It is done through atitration that liberates iodine from potassium iodide and is expressed as a value in milequivalents of free oxygen per kilo of oil (meq O2/kg).UV Light                  Absorbency: This is a more delicate indicator of oxidation, especially in oils that have been heated in the refining process. It measures the quantity of certain oxidized compounds that resonate at wavelengths of 232 and 270 nanometers (nm) in the ultraviolet spectrum in a spectrophotometer. Delta (Δ) K detects oil treatments with color removing substances and the presence of refined or pomace oil by measuring thedifference between absorbance at 270 nm and 266 nm – 274 nm.                                                                                                                                                                                               Percent daily values:  The "% Daily Values" numbers on the Olive Oil nutrition label are based on a 2000 calorie diet. If your Daily Caloric Intake is higher or lower than 2000, you should adjust these values accordingly.                                                                                                                           Polyphenols. Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants found in a variety of foods – red wine, green tea, chocolate, olive oil and more. Antioxidants are now widely touted for their ability to combat aging and many health conditions.Recent studies indicate that the oil-soluble polyphenols are very potent – and the research is just beginning. It’s a very exciting field right now – scienceis increasing our understanding of the bioavailability of polyphenols and their effect on health, and milling technology is breaking new ground for higher extraction.

COOKING WITH DIFFERENT TYPE  OF OILS

  • When choosing an olive oil, think about the application. If it's just for sautéing vegetables, pure or virgin olive oil is fine. If it's dish in which the oil will be more prominent (such as pasta with potatoes and rosemary, or for salad dressings), the extra virgin olive oil is the way to go. Olive oil is one of the best oils for cooking and frying. As with all oils, the smoke point depends on the age and quality, but 410 degrees F is the official figure.Olive oil has been used for thousands of years in cooking and is one of the cornerstones of the healthy Mediterranean diet. It is very versatile and, with its unique flavor and aroma,has become a must-have in the American kitchen.
  • Different olive oils complement different foods and uses. Olive oil can be used for sautéing, browning,stir-frying, deep frying, as an ingredient in marinades and sauces such as mayonnaise, pesto, or romesco, and as a condiment, drizzled over various dishes. It is of course always appreciated as a bread dipper or simply dabbed on a toasted piece of country bread that has been scratched with a clove of garlic. Think about olive oil as you would of wine. Use different olive oils for different purposes. Strong and robust extra virgin olive oils can be used for cooking fish, meat, to make marinades, or to drizzle on strongly flavored ingredients like peppers or garlic. A medium intensity, well-rounded extra virgin olive oil is great on mozzarella or for bread dipping. We love it in vinaigrette or sprinkled on various steamed vegetables and on baked potatoes. A mellow late harvest extra virgin oil could be used in baking a cake or to make mayonnaise. Olive oil or virgin olive oil are good for frying and sautéing.A high quality extra virgin olive oil is perfect as a condiment, drizzled over fish, meat, steamed vegetables or baked potatoes, in salad dressings, as a bread dipper, asthe base for mayonnaise and uncooked sauces, or rubbed on a piece of bread, to name only a few examples. Check out some of our recipes for more ideas.        
  • As the oil is left unheated, you reap the full benefits of its flavor and aroma, as well as of its health qualities. You won’t use verymuch so it is well worth the higher price of a gourmet extra virgin olive oil.Think of extra virgin olive oil as you would of wine. Pair it with foods, find the right match. Use a mild to medium strength oil for salad dressings or as acondiment over mild food, such as mozzarella. Switch to a robust olive oil to drizzle over fresh tomatoes or a hearty dish. Use your imagination to create various mixes of flavors you like. More and more stores offer olive oil tasting and sampling. Take advantage of it to decide which oils you like the most. In the end, that is what matters.

OLIVE OIL HEALTH BENEFITS

  • In addition to the wonderful flavor it adds to your food, olive oil is also one of nature's healing wonders. This liquid gold works to keep hearts healthy, may reduce inflammation and the risk of certain cancers, and might even play a role in controlling diabetes and weight. This is because olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which lowers bad cholesterol without affecting good cholesterol.It seems like a simple change, but switching from saturated fats to monounsaturated fat to prepare your food, can produce big benefits.The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil  each day to enjoy the many ways olive oil can be beneficial to your health and well being.In addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil has also been found to be effective in fighting against diseases such as:
    • Cancer: The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.           Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.Oxidative Stress: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.                                                                                                                                             Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.           Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.                                                                                                                                                           Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.                                                                                   Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.                                                                                                                                                         Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.                                                                                                            Olive Oil Might Help Prevent Strokes: According to a new study from France, older individuals who consume olive oil daily may be able to protect themselves from a stroke.  The study which is part of the Three-City Study, an ongoing multicenter study of vascular risk factors for dementia, was published in the online issue of Neurology.Researchers gathered information from the medical records of 7,625 individuals over the age of 65 from three cities in France:Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. None of the participants had a history of stroke. They then categorized the individuals into three groups based on their olive oil consumption. The researchers noted that the participants used mostly extra virgin olive oil, as that is what is usually available in France.After 5 years there were 148 strokes. The results showed that the “intensive” users of olive oil, those that used for both cooking and dressings had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those that did not use olive oil at all. These results were noted even after considering weight, diet, physical activity and other risk factors.                                                                                                                                                       Olive Oil Diet Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Traditionally a low fat diet has been prescribed to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.While studies have shown that high fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fatthat counts rather than the amount of fat. We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seedsactually protects from many of these chronic diseases.A recent Spanish study showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet. Type II diabetes is the most common and preventable form of diabetes. Olive Oil Keeps the Heart Young: A diet rich in olive oil may be able to slow down the aging of the heart. It is a known fact that as we growolder the heart also goes through a normal aging process. The arteries may not function as well as they did and this can lead to a number of health problems.However, in a recent study, Spanish researchers discovered that a diet rich in olive oil or other monounsaturated fats could improve the arterial function ofelderly individuals.The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared the effect of a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil with that of a low fat high carbohydrate diet anda diet rich in saturated fats and concluded that the diet rich in olive oil resulted in the reduction of endothelial damage and dysfunction.                                                                                         Olive Oil Fights Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass, which in turn causes the architecture of bone tissue to become fragile. This can then increase the possibly of fractures, making even the slightest of knocks potentially fatal for sufferers.The disease is reco