All edible vegetable oils are rich in fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6, which are essential for a healthy organism.
Butter or oil? Culinary circles are divided into two proper factions with regards to their preference for one or another of these two fats.
Oils extracted from coconuts or other tropical plants are used exclusively in the Pacific islands. And scientific studies endorse this choice, showing that these oils are good for the heart.
This is the final process carried out on vegetable oils before bottling: a machine eliminates the unpleasant odours inherent in the oil.
At the oil-mill, once the olive pulp has been pressed, the oily content is extracted by eliminating all the solid particles.
Olive and other vegetable oils are excellent for flavouring food, from salads to meats. The oil itself may also be aromatized using herbs, garlic and chilli pepper.
In Ancient Greece, women used to apply olive oil to their hair and body after a bath. This led to the use of oil for medicinal purposes.
All edible oils may be used at high temperatures for cooking, so long as they stand up well to heat. This is particularly true for palm, coconut and rice oil, which are very popular in Asian cuisine.
Not just for cooking: oils are also used in the production of soap, cream, candles, perfume, makeup and paint.
The eight olive trees left standing on Monte Olivet in Jerusalem, the scene of many important biblical events as well as the Passion of Christ, are over two thousand years old.
Unlike wine, oil does not age well. It is advisable to store it in a cool dry place and use it within one year.
Oil is not good for cholesterol: to help keep its level in check, it is better to use no more than a spoonful of crude olive oil to flavour your food, when cooking.
Olive oil is a basic ingredient of the Mediterranean diet: the country with the highest production in the world is Spain, followed by Italy and Greece.
Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria
Christopher Columbus was the first European to take olive oil to the United States in 1492, on board the three caravels.
The olive tree, whose botanical name is Olea europea, is one of the most widespread plants in the Mediterranean. Its history dates back seven thousand years.
Extensively used in West Africa, it is extracted from the red berries of wild palm trees, after they have been dried and boiled at length.
The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) imparts guidelines and guarantees the authenticity of olive oil throughout the world.
Rapeseed oil is not used much in cooking, where it is considered to be of inferior quality, but is employed as a cheap fuel substitute for petrol.
Sunflower seed oil is one of the most recommended for keeping cholesterol in check. A tip: keep it in the fridge in a non-transparent bottle.
The home of Italian olive oil, considered to be one of the best in the world, and the olive oil most exported to the United States. This Italian region alone accounts for about 95,000 producers.
University of California
A research carried out by this university in 2011 issued a warning to US consumers: 73% of top selling extra virgin oils imported to the Country have not passed the IOOC quality tests.
Vegetable oils are particularly rich in Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. In particular, the best oils in this respect are those of wheat germ, sunflower and almond.
World’s Most Expensive Oil
The most expensive olive oil in the world is the Greek Lambda: it is classified as an “ultra premium extra virgin” oil extracted from hand-pressed Koroneiki olives. A half litre bottle costs over 50 dollars.
The best olive oil has the fruitiest taste, offering a greater guarantee of authenticity and flavour, obtained from the first cold press of the olives.
Each type of oil has a different yield. In the case of olive oil, it varies from year to year but, on average, amounts to about 15% of the weight of the olives taken to the press.
Of all the Greek islands, Zante is one of the most famous for its production of a prized extra virgin olive oil.