The oil tree originated in the Mediterranean countries, but is widely cultivated all over the world now. The tree yields fragrant white flowers and an oblong nearly round fruit called a drupe that becomes shiny black when ripe. When call this drupe an 'olive'.
Olives have been pressed for thousands of years to produce the oil we know as olive oil. The health benefits of olive oil have been documented for hundreds of years, and this golden oil to reputed to be one of the secrets of a long healthy life. It's been found that people who consume extra virgin olive oil regularly have much lower rates of heart disease, heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma. Studies have shown that diabetics who consume healthy meals that contained some olive oil had better effects on blood sugar even than healthy meals that were low in fat. And if that isn't enough, it helps reduce blood pressure, combats disease, provides the body with essential fats and is a contributing factor to overall health and wellness. Science daily just published a report just recently on Extra Virgin Olive oil and its ability to combat breast cancer, go here to read it.
This all said, not all oils are created equally. There are basically four different grading's of olive oils:
'Light' Olive oil: is filtered and refined olive oil, often bleached and the term 'light' refers to the colouring, not the content. The considerable processing that it goes through means that it only retains very little of the olive flavour. Very little if any nutritional properties.
Pure Olive oil: Undergoes processing such as filtering and refining, and then a small amount of the virgin olive oil is added to give it colour, otherwise it would be very light in colour. Again not much nutritional value.
Virgin Olive oil: Comes from the second pressing, so a majority of the vitamins and minerals, the goodness is taken out in the first pressing and this is the product that remains.
The big daddy of Olive oils is the Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive oil, this is pure gold, cold pressed to retain the integrity of the oil. This is made without the use of chemicals, no refining no bleaching. Just pure olive oil. This is in its most natural state, housed in dark bottles to protect the oil from light.
WE have just started stocking a Victorian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made in Laharum, which is in the Grampians in Victoria. Toscana is the brand and these guys make an incredible olive oil, don't just take my word for it though, they were awarded the champions trophy at the 2008 Royal Melbourne Show for the 2008 harvest of their Grampians Olive Estate Australia. They only do the first cold pressing they don't do a second pressing. The flavour is sensational. Contact us to get some. They grow and press all their own olives, so the integrity of the product is assured.
This olive grove has been around since 1943, making it one of the oldest in Australia. They have around 27 different varieties, of some which are heirloom varieties. The farm is watered only with natural rainfall, so these guys are not only making great olive oil but looking after our environment at the same time. This combination makes the olives and the oil the best.
Why go organic?
Well need we discuss, but apart the pesticide residues, artificial fertilisers and chemicals used, but did you know that toxins accumulate and are stored in fat….always enjoy your oils organically.
Storage: Keep olive oil in a cool and dark place, tightly sealed. Oxygen promotes rancidity. Olive oil is like other oils and can easily go rancid when exposed to air, light or high temperatures.