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Olive Oil

 

Olive OilOlive oil is a fat obtained from the olive (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives.

 

It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world, but especially in the Mediterranean countries and, in particular, in Greece, which has the highest consumption per person.

 

Culinary use

 

Olive oil is the main cooking oil in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Extra virgin olive oil is mostly used as a salad dressing and as an ingredient in salad dressings. It is also used with foods to be eaten cold. If uncompromised by heat, the flavor is stronger. It also can be used for sautéing.

 

The higher the temperature to which the olive oil is heated, the higher the risk of compromising its taste. When extra virgin olive oil is heated above 210–216 °C, depending on its free fatty acid content, the unrefined particles within the oil are burned. This leads to deteriorated taste. Also, the pronounced taste of extra virgin olive oil is not a taste most people like to associate with their deep fried foods. Refined olive oils are perfectly suited for deep frying foods and should be replaced after several uses.

 

Choosing a cold-pressed olive oil can be similar to selecting a wine. The flavor of these oils varies considerably and a particular oil may be more suited for a particular dish. Also, people who like lots of tannins in their red wines might prefer more bitter olive oils.

 

An important issue often not realized in countries that do not produce olive oil is that the freshness makes a big difference. A very fresh oil, as available in an oil producing region, tastes noticeably different from the older oils available elsewhere. In time, oils deteriorate and become stale. One-year old oil may be still pleasant to the taste, but it is surely less fragrant than fresh oil. After the first year, olive oil should be used for cooking, not for foods to be eaten cold, like salads.

 

The taste of the olive oil is influenced by the varietals used to produce the oil from and by the moment when the olives are harvested and ground (less ripe olives give more bitter and spicy flavors - riper olives give a sweeter sensation in the oil).

 

For certain culinary uses, olive oil may be substituted with safflower or sunflower oils, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil.

 

Olive oil has various non-culinary uses as well. For example, it is also a natural and safe lubricant, and can be used to lubricate machinery that is used within the kitchen (grinders, blenders, cookware, etc.) It can also be used for illumination (oil lamps) or as the base for soaps and detergents. Many cosmetics also use olive oil as their base.

Olive Oil

 

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil