This is considered the king of all oils. It is versatile, good for cooking and for dressings. What’s more, it has an excellent flavour and is the healthiest of all oils, being rich in monosaturated fats, which has been found to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
How is oil extracted from olives
Virgin olive oil is the oily juice of the olive fruit. It is obtained exclusively by mechanical or other physical procedures in conditions, particularly temperature conditions, which do not cause its deterioration. The only treatments involved are fruit washing, crushing, preparation of the olive mash or paste, separation of the solid and liquid phases, decanting and/or centrifuging and filtration.
Types of olive oil
Virgin olive oil is graded into following categories:
Extra virgin olive oil is virgin olive oil with a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 g per 100 g and the organoleptic characteristics.
Virgin olive oil is with a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 g per 100 g and the organoleptic characteristics.
Ordinary virgin olive oil is with a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3.3 g per 100 g and the organoleptic characteristics.
Refined olive oil is obtained from virgin olive oil. Its free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, may not be more than 0.3 g per 100 g.
Olive oil is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil fit for consumption as it is. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 1 g per 100 g.
Some valuable tips
Remember olives are fruit and virgin olive oil is a fruit juice. Air, heat and light will cause olive oil to turn rancid. If your oil has a buttery taste, then it is probably rancid. Store olive oil in a tightly sealed container away from heat and light. To maintain quality, it’s a good idea to put the oil in the refrigerator during the hot months. It may appear cloudy, but this does no harm to the oil. Just bring the oil back up to room temperature to clear clouding.
As a natural product and unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with time, so it is best used as per the time indicated on the label of the product. Nevertheless, depending on the variety, a well-kept oil could last up to eighteen months. The colour of the oil does not determine its quality.
Cooking with olive oil
Cooking with olive oil in the Indian kitchen is simple. All you have to do is replace your traditional oil with olive oil. You can cook any recipe: be it a healthy Palak Shorba, or a Gujarati Batata nu Shaak, be it an elegant Prawn Pulao or a crunchy Corn Bhel with Tomatoes and Olives…the list seems endless. Yes, you can make the all-time favourites like Tandoori Chicken, Mutton Curry, Biryani, Dosa, Koki, Kabab, Mathri, Upma, Laddoo, Tikki, Achar! And let us not forget the divine Shahi Tukre, Balushahi, Gujiya.
When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or a straight olive oil. Food fried in olive oil contains less fat, which makes it recommendable for controlling obesity. Olive oil is, therefore, the most suitable, lightest and tastiest fat for frying.