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Tips on Olive Oil In period the Romans considered for consumption the green oil the best and for the nobility, the yellow oil for the middle class, and the rest that had to be processed with heat and chemical manipulation to be for the slave class. This last class is called Lampante because it was mostly used as lamp oil. In period, the farther north you got from the Mediterranean and Levant, the lower quality the oil that was sold. Many thought that the northerners didn’t know better. The exception is monasteries that could have their own trees. Taste what olive oils you can before you buy them. They should have some pepperiness, some bitterness and a fresh taste. This means the antioxidants and health benefits are present in the oil. When you cannot taste it first choose a an oil or store that performs stringent quality control in its production and selection of oils. Unlike wine, oil does not improve with age. It starts to deteriorate within months of milling. Get the freshest oil possible and do not keep it for more than a year. Likewise, buy small quantities at a time of high quality oil. Pay attention to the best by date. Extra Virgin means the oil should be made with no heat or chemicals. Virgin olive oil is a second pass to retrieve oil. Olive oil, still called Lampante, is oil that is chemically treated and used in processed foods. There are also chemical definitions for these brands, but if you are not a chemist they mean little. If you are curious, go to the United Nations organization that governs the labeling. You should not get Extra Virgin oil that is chemically manipulated, but unfortunately you do. You do not need high quality oil to fry foods. You can use any grocery store brand that says extra virgin (though it probably isn’t). Long timed and deep frying can destroy the taste of the oil anyway. It is uneconomical and impractical. When choosing bottled oil prefer dark glass bottles or other containers that protect against light. Don’t pay much attention to the color of the oil in modern olive oil. Oil is made from different cultivars and some are better at different stages. The Roman method does not apply. The cultivars that are best green are bottled in the early fall, and the cultivars that are best black are bottled in the early winter in the northern hemisphere Country of origin means very little. The best olive oils do not come only from Italy anymore and that is no guarantee of quality. In fact many Italian olive oils have been adulterated with foreign oil to cut them for a profit. Sometimes just rebottled and labeled Italian. Great oil comes from all over the world now, including Australia and South America. The label Extra Virgin can mean a wide range of things due to fraud in the supply chain. Unfortunately, you cannot depend on this label. Cold Pressed usually means nothing because no one presses olives anymore, they use a centrifuge method that produces higher quality oil and less waste. Cold pressed only applies when the olives are kept at or below 27 degrees Celsius during the maxing process and extracted with an actual press. Very rare to non-existent. Avoid oils that taste moldy, rancid, cooked, greasy, meaty, metallic and cardboard tasting. You want crisp and clean. Some olive oils are certified by a national or state olive oil association. Those outside of Europe usually mean high quality oil. There are olive oil contests. These oils are a good choice in getting good oil. Filtered (or otherwise processed to remove all pulp and skin) oil lasts longer because the pulp and skin in unfiltered oil can help it spoil faster and make it taste muddy. Olive oils with fruit, vegetable and herb extracts are good oils but make sure they don’t taint the actual oil they are in. Price can tell you some of the story. If the price is really low and it says Extra Virgin, don’t expect much. Store your oil away from light heat and oxygen which are the three enemies of good oil. Don’t hoard it. Use it. Freezing does not harm oil. Good information on oil can be found at www.oliveoilsource,com, www.extravirginity.com, www.oliveoiltimes.com, www.teatronaturale.com, www.aromadictionary.com/EVOO_blog/, www.oliveoil.org, www.super-premium-olive-oil.com , www.cooc.com, naooa.org, www.australianolives.com.au/web/, www.internationaloliveoil.org, and olivecenter.ucdavis.edu.
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