Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Olive oil

"Good oil like good wine is a gift from the gods. The grape and the olive are among the priceless benefactions of the soil and were destined, each in its way, to promote the welfare of man"



I agree entirely with the words of 19th century horticultural scientist George Ellwanger but it turns out that most of what I know about olive oil is wrong.  I have the handicap of growing up in a country where I learnt that olive oil was only good for ear ache and thus sold in tiny bottles at chemist shops so didn't start eating olive oil until I was just into my 3rd decade. I did however make up for lost time and have had my own olive trees for over 25 years, but at a recent oil tasting session I learnt that:

1. The colour of the oil bears no relation to the quality only the variety of olive.
2. You can not tell the acidity of an oil from its taste.
3. Oil should be stored below 20 degrees C. Keep your oil in the fridge in the summer.
4. Good oil should burn the back of your throat, this shows that the health-giving antioxidants are still present.
5. To taste oil, pour into a glass and warm in both hands, sniff to detect scents of hay, apple, blossom etc. Roll around the mouth and pull through teeth to get the full flavour and feel the antioxidant 'burn'.
6. An olive starts to oxidise 5 seconds after it falls to the ground so olives shouldn't be knocked from the trees with sticks but collected in mechanised 'vibrating combs', stored in boxes not sacks and taken for immediate cold pressing. 
7. If you buy oil in large tins, decant into 1 litre or smaller glass bottles and keep them in the dark. Oil lasts for up to a year. Never buy in plastic bottles. 
So now I know that I have been buying and eating inferior olive oil for over 3 decades. To make up for lost time, I went out last week and bought a bottle of newly pressed wild olive oil and it's so good I've been pouring it on my porridge every morning. 



16 comments:

  1. I bring olive oil back from Spain, from a local chap...but didn't know about keeping it in the fridge in summer.
    I remember moving to the country in the seventies and when making out my order for the grocer I put down for a large tin of olive oil. There was a discreet cough...did I need cotton wool to go with it because if so he could send the boy next door to the chemists...

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    1. I've been buying local all the time, but I would think the oil sits in a warm place for months before I get it.

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  2. Sue will be interested in reading this post. They have had a really poor harvest this year from their 100 olive trees in Italy. Their first pressed olive oil is so good but we are having to ration ourselves this year.

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  3. Olive oil and porridge, that’s different.

    I take it from rule No 7 I shouldn’t try it with my bog standard bottle of Sainburys olive oil supplied in a plastic bottle.

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    1. It is virtually impossible to get the best oil unless you pick and press them yourself - ie 99% impossible for us

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  4. B to B, Once again, there you go giving advice about culinary matters (I refer to our last posting). Happily, you're incurable and we are the grateful beneficiaries. We've taken to eating yogurt with a wooden spoon and later today, will be doing a tasting of some recently harvested Ayvalık oil with your suggestions in mind. Thanks.

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    1. How about drinking a tablespoon full of oil mixed with tumeric and black pepper before breakfast. - me neither.

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  5. . . you are a walking, talking encyclopaedia! That said, I will not be putting olive oil on my porridge - pekmez and honey for me!

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  6. With central heating, I'm guessing we should keep our everyday oil in the fridge all year round?

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  7. Oops, same as you - been eating inferior oil for some time! :) Does it count if we buy it in a plastic bottle and then put it into glass bottles when we get home? :) Remember harvesting olives near Datça a few years back with a friend's family. Hard work! Everyone was using sticks there.

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    1. In the tasting I prefered the inferior oil - it is what I'm used to.

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  8. Oh dear! the last bottle I bought is in a plastic bottle.

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