Italian Cuisine/Olive Oil
QUESTION: Is olive oil made from a particular type of olive from certain regions or does it matter? Which olive's oil would be healthiest?
ANSWER: Hello James,
Lovely question and I wish I could whisk off to Italy to show you the amazing orchards of olive trees! There are so many varieties and YES each one can produce olive oil and each one is equally as unique as the other. Some are very strong bold flavoured, very fruity and earthy, while others are light in both colour and taste. It's so hard to believe that there could be such a difference but like wine, you have different soils, different terrains, different altitudes and climate and all these factor into the nuances of the olive oil experience. As for your second question, all olive oils are healthy and especially when consumed raw as cooking can alter the chemical make-up of all oils. Organic is obviously a better choice as well and as far as flavour, nutrition and all-round amazing taste sensation, I would select a DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) or protected designation of origin and guaranteed quality. This means that the olive oil come 100% from olives grown in Italy and pressed in Italy. This is very important, as you want to enjoy the genuine article. First cold press of the olive oil is important too as you are getting more nutrients and less degradation of the product. When heat is applied to extract more oil it can undermine the quality and nutritional value.
I truly hope this has answered your question and if you have a local speciality shop for Italian foods - please take the time to read the labels, ask the retailer some questions and spend a little extra on "really good" bottle of oil, bring it home, pour some in a little bowl, slice up some fresh vegetables and tear up some fresh bakery bread, then DIP, and savour the sultry mediterranean liquid gold.
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QUESTION: It is my understanding that there is a lot of fake oil out there so I have no proof I've ever had real olive oil so I'd like to make it myself. They need not be from Italy, but organic is a plus.
Hello again James,
Making your own olive oil sounds wonderful however it is very much out of my area of expertise, pressing olive oil is an art form which requires the proper equipment and also freshly picked olives. I do not know where you live but most olives that we see in North America come from overseas and they are usually already in brine or processed in some form with olive oil or oven dried etc. These olives will not work for making your own and I believe you need 10-15 pounds of "fresh" olives to produce 1 litre of oil.
I hope this helps