Sunday, September 19, 2010


I don’t think a single dish in Greece came with out some olive oil somewhere. Olive oil is an essential ingredient in Greek cooking as well as many other Mediterranean countries. There are over 750 million olive trees worldwide, 95% of those being in the Mediterranean region. Spain is the top producer of olive oil, but Greece holds 3rd with over 130 million olive trees which equal 350,000 tons of olive oil each year! Greece devotes 60% of their cultivated land to olive growing.

Olive oil is used in so many ways for cooking and has great health benefits – like favourbale effects on cholesterol, good omega-6 acids, vitamin E and antioxidants!
Get this – there is an International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) which is based out of Madrid. The council promotes olive oil worldwide by tracking production, defining quality standards and monitoring authenticity.

There are different retail grades of olive oil:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: come from virgin oil production only (oil was produced by use of physical means, with no chemical treatment)
Virgin Olive Oil: virgin production only
Pure Olive Oil: Usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil
Olive Oil: Lacks a strong flavour and is a blend of refined and virgin production
Olive Pomace Oil: refined pomace olive oil that is blended with some virgin oil. Very neutral flavour
Lampante Oil: Not suitable for food. Used for oil burning lamps
Refined Olive Oil: l 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.

Well-made olive oil is delicious as is. As a dip for bread, drizzled over pasta or a pizza, over any type of salad, with mozzarella or feta cheese or on top an appetizer of tzatziki. Olive oil is such a multi-purpose cooking ingredient!

photo credit: google images

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