Raw Materials Olive Oil – The Liquid Gold

Olive Oil – The Liquid Gold

05/08/12 13:57:04 (17 comments)

by: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta

 

Botanical Name

Olea europaea sup sp. europaea (European Olive)

Olea europaea sub sp. cuspidate

Family

Oleaceae

Common Name

Olive, Olive tree, Zaitoon (Unani)

HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION


The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin, parts of Asia Minor, and has been in cultivation for over 7,000 years. Currently, more than 95% of the world’s olive trees grow in the Mediterranean Basin. Globally, it is widely cultivated throughout the world. Olea tolerate shallow, stony soil, with little fertilizer, and survive in areas with dry, hot summers  and in coastal areas.

HISTORY & MYTH


References to the olive tree date back to Biblical and Roman times and to Greek mythology. Historically, olive products have been used as aphrodisiacs, emollients, laxatives, as nutritives, sedatives, and tonics. Olive oil is the major source of dietary fat in the countries where it is grown, and constitutes part of the commonly referred to “Mediterranean diet” of countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

The Roman poet Horace mentions olive in reference to his diet and commented that, “As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance.” The olive tree leaves were considered a symbol of abundance, glory and peace and were used to crown the victors of games and wars.

In ancient Greece olive oil was used to anoint kings and athletes and was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples, as well as being the "eternal flame" of the original Olympic Games. Victors in these games were crowned with its leaves. Today, it is still used in many religious ceremonies. Over the years, the olive has been a symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity.

The olive tree and olive oil are mentioned over 30 times in the Bible and seven times in the Quran. It is one of the first plants that is mentioned in the Bible. Olive is praised in both of the books as a precious tree and most significant plant.


Olive farming and an olive industry appear to have been established throughout the region bordering the Mediterranean from Palestine and Syria to Greece in the middle and late Bronze Age. The manufacture of olive oil became a mass production industry during the Israelite period when processing methods improved.

As modern farming techniques evolved, large-scale state enterprises began and olive farming reached a peak in the first half of the nineteenth century.
 


THE OLIVE TREE

The olive tree, Olea europaea, has been cultivated for olive oil, fine wood, olive leaf and the olive fruit. The olive tree is very hardy. Drought-resistant, disease- and fire-resistant, it can live to a great age. Its root system is robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. Trees reach up to 8-10 m in height with a broad crown of leafy branches.

The leaves are silvery green and narrowly elliptic to oblong or laceolate in shape. The upper surface of leaves appears glabrous, and the lower surface is moderately to densely greyish green. The trunk is typically gnarled and more or less twisted. The flowers are smaller, feathery and borne generally on the previous year’s branches from the axils of the leaves. The olive fruit is a drupe fruit, harvested in the green to purple stage.

STANDARDS OF OLIVE OILS

Solvent-extracted olive oil contains more minor components at higher levels than those found in physically-extracted oil; this is due to the behavior of solvents. This provides the basis for designating pomace oil as a commercial product distinct from virgin oil (obtained only by mechanical means) or refined (lower grade) virgin oil mixed with virgin oil (olive oil, Riviera type). The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) promulgated the following internationally recognized definitions of oils derived from olives and available on the market.


1. Virgin olive oil is the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which has not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation, and filtration. The different names for olive oil indicate the degree of processing the oil has undergone as well as the quality of the oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is the highest grade available, followed by virgin olive oil. The word "virgin" indicates that the olives were pressed to extract the oil; no heat or chemicals were used during the extraction process, and the oil is pure and unrefined. Virgin olive oils contain the highest levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that have been linked with better health.
 


2. Olive-pomace oil defined as the oil obtained by solvent extraction of olive-pomace and not including any oil obtained by a re-esterification procedure or any mixture with other kinds of oils. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavour than pure or virgin olive oil and the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.
 


OLIVE OIL COMPONENTS

Virgin olive oil contains Glycerides (i.e. fatty acids including Palmitic, Palmitoleic, Heptadecanoic, Heptadecenoic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic, Linolenic, Arachidic, Eicosenoic, Behenic, Lignoceric acid), Hydrocarbons, Tochopherols, Linear short/long chain alcohols and their esters, Sterols and their esters, α-Methyl sterols, Monohydroxytriterpenes, Dihydroxytriterpenes, Triterpenic acids, Phytol, Geranylgeraniol, Phenols and related compounds, flavor components, Methyl and Ethyl esters and other components.


USES


In the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is consumed cold as a dressing for salads and pasta and is used for sautéing and deep frying purposes. Deep-frying of olive oil leads to significant changes in the composition and these changes affects its biological properties. It has both advantages and disadvantages related to olive oil degradation.

Studies revealed that the antioxidant property of olive oil reduces the incidence of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

Olive oil has antihypertensive properties. Olive oil extract can reduce systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressures.

Olive oil contains fats, its apparent cancer-protective effect therefore implicated in colon, breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.

Olive oil also used in cosmetics, shaving oil and soaps.

Olive oil can show variety of flavors depending upon the type of olive, processing and age of the raw material. It can be full-bodied and earthy, fruity and peppery, smooth and buttery, herbal, subtle and nuanced.
 

 


Author: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta (cshekhar)

Fragrantica Writer

 

 



 

 

 



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jdgreen
jdgreen

I love everything about olive oil. I love the smell, the taste and the feel of it on my skin. I have sensitive, mature skin and I use olive squalane oil (an extract from pure olives) as my facial moisturiser and it makes my skin so soft. I use extra virgin olive oil as a body moisturiser - I like it plain but sometimes I add a few drops of frankincense essential oil to it too.

Mar
13
2013
ANGELICA07
ANGELICA07

Beautiful article !

Being Italian, olive oil has always been part of my life : we use it to cook nearly everything.
Genuine olive oil is an irreplaceable masterpiece. Nothing will never be hardly in the same league as it is the most tasteful oil.

That being said, as much I appreciate it when it comes to cooking, as much as I tend to find its smell a little unpleasant in cosmetci products. I meanwhile know that it has lots of praiseworthy properties, even if I'm not keen on using it for cosmetic purpose.

Jun
08
2012
cshekhar
cshekhar

Thanks Elena ! I hope that all of you enjoyed the article.

May
14
2012
Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki

Great analysis of the tree and the precious oil. Indeed the Med has embraced it since ancient times and shows no signs of stopping. Thanks for the article!
One fragrance which replicates somewhat the peculiar ambience of olive trees and olive fruit is Sienne l'Hiver by Bertrand Duchaufour. It's unique.

May
14
2012
Fmcandy
Fmcandy

Great info, Dr. I ve read that is also good on your skin. Yesterday night I run out of cleaning fluid , I decided to clean my face with a cotton spread with olive oil . Today my skin is soft and zero grease. But I don't now about using it all the time. Thanks!

May
14
2012
nananessa
nananessa

I love olives & eat them frequently. I think I'll go get some now! 'Really enjoyed this article.

May
12
2012
cshekhar
cshekhar

Dear Cecila
Due to the reduction in polyphenol content
during heating, cooking with olive oil produces a number
of degradation products,with lipid peroxidation
occurring to a limited extent.Lipid peroxidation products have been linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

May
11
2012
cecila
cecila

For some reason my first comment did not go through. First of all to say Thank You Dr. Gupta. Guess it is true what my friend said about using the EVO for frying, how it changes the composition. We enjoy all kinds of olives. What it does for our health is paramount.

NATTONLINE; Just want to say that I use the Argan oil occationally, just adding a few drops in my shower body wash . Sometimes the same with my body lotion or face cream. Just to add a little extra softness. This was pure Argan oil 100 %. Good for the winter. Also I have used the Extra Virgin Olive oil on my skin. Can't hurt.

May
10
2012
DarkViolet
DarkViolet

Nice and informative article, thanks!

My family owns several olive trees (some are more than hundred years), so I can at least use a wonderful extra-virgin oil for cooking everything, expecially a flat bread made with flour, oil and olives which I love :)

Yes the smell of fresh oil is definitely herbal and fruity, a bit sharp sometimes, I would love to find a fragrance that captures that scent.
(Another use for extra-virgin olive oil is for moisturizing, smoothening and enlightening dry and damaged hair).

May
09
2012
Princessanastasia
Princessanastasia

Thank you for this wonderful atricle , Doctor :-)

I learned much new about olive oil which I like so much .My daughter usually resents me with original olive oil produced in Greece when she travells there ...

May
08
2012
fawania
fawania

nice topic , i like it :)

May
08
2012
nattonline
nattonline

I love olive trees! I think they are pretty! :)

May
08
2012
siririschmoos
siririschmoos

When given the option, I will put black olives on just about anything, pizza, sub sandwiches or cheese and crackers.

It's amazing how olive oil can be found in so many products and nutritionists and doctors see nothing wrong with eating them.....in moderation!

May
08
2012
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

@ nattonline: I like Argan oil for hair and skin care products. It seems a little more "heavy" than olive oil, though I haven't found it to be the miracle that many try to claim it is.

But olive oil is such a wondrous substance. I love the light fruity taste of a good extra virgin olive oil, and as far as skin care, I like it best in soap!

May
08
2012
Nicole1978
Nicole1978

Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta, another fantastic article! Although I am not a fan of eating olives, I do use a lot of olive oil when cooking. I would love to see you do an article on cherries as a raw material! Again, great article filled with great information!

May
08
2012
chayaruchama
chayaruchama

Thank you, dear Dr. Gupta .

May
08
2012
nattonline
nattonline

Recently, I see a lot of beauty products with Argan oil. Is it much different from Olive oil? What is everybody input?

May
08
2012

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