I love Olives!
Olive Oil is Liquid Gold
Homer called olive oil liquid gold and, at the time that he was busy composing a tale on the Trojan War, the olive trees were so sacred that anyone who cut a tree down was condemned to exile or to death.
It's not a crime anymore, but it would be criminal not to include some nutritious, delicious olives in your diet. Your heart will thank you.
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.
— The Physiology of Taste, 1825
Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated lipid that's better for you than saturated animal fats such as butter and lard, and also better than poly-unsaturated fats such as canola and safflower oils.
Olive oil also contains vitamins, anti-oxidants, and other healthy things that only a chemist can pronounce.
Flavour Olive Oil with herbs
Make your own Herb Flavoured Oilive OIl
There are safe and unsafe ways to make flavoured olive oil. The unsafe way is to put anything in the oil which contains water.
Two Methods of Safe Flavouring :
1. Mix all the ingredients, make sure the oil covers the herbs, refrigerate, and use within 10 days.
2. Dry the herbs to remove all water, leaving the essential oils. You can hang up whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary etc in the sun to dry.
Make Rosemary Olive Oil
What you need
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Rosemary Twig
- Clove of Garlic
- Pinch of Salt
What you do
- Combine all the above ingredients in a clear bottle. Make sure the oil covers the clove and the rosemary (push them down with a skewer if necessary - don't break the clove)
- Leave it in the fridge for a few days before using.
Which olive oil?
What do those names mean?
Choosing a bottle from a supermarket shelf can be confusing. There will be dozens of bottles all with different labels, but there are really only three types of olive oil, depending upon the way it's been extracted.
When a bottle is labeled extra virgin the oil is derived from the first processing of the olives. To be certified as 'extra virgin' it must have a maximum acidity of 1 percent. (A little acidity is unavoidable). Some of the more reputable products register well below that level, coming in at below 0.5 percent.
Virgin oil is derived from a subsequent processing of the olives, but still contains only juice from the olive. The acidity level must be between 1 and 2 per cent.
Plain olive oil uses chemicals to extract the last bit of olive oil from the paste and can't be labeled organic. This can also be called 'extra light'. It's a perfectly good oil and ideal for pan-frying or lightly greasing a casserole dish.
Other terms sometimes used
But wait, there are more labels with different terms on. What do they all mean?
Cold pressed is an anachronistic label description for olive oil.
Fifty years ago when most oil was made in vertical presses, the paste was pressed to make olive oil (called the first press) and then mixed with hot water or steam and pressed again to remove more oil.
This "second pressing" wasn't as tasty as the heat had evaporated some of the delicate flavours.
The less the olive oil is handled, the closer to its natural state, the better the oil. If the olive oil meets all the criteria, it can be designated as "extra virgin".
You can freeze olive oil in ice cube trays to use instead of butter
Olive Oil is a Fruit Juice
Keep in mind that olives are fruit - so olive oil is a fruit juice. Like any fruit juice, keep it in the fridge.
When it's been kept in the fridge, or sometimes on an extra cold day, olive oil will turn a cloudy colour. If the weather is really cold, the oil may even congeal. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with your oil and it will return to its clear and lovely liquid state when it regains room temperature. Being kept in the fridge will lengthen the life of your oil.
In the warm climate where I live, olive oil must always be kept refrigerated. My neighbour, an older lady who came to Australia from Greece over 50 years ago, refuses to keep her extra extra virgin olive oil in the fridge as she says it removes some of the flavour. She keeps hers in the wine cellar instead.
When I buy a large amount of olive oil it's in a tin. I pour some off into 2 or 3 bottles and keep the tin down the bottom of a dark cupboard in the laundry. (Next to my mushroom boxes). If I had such a thing as a wine cellar instead of a small wooden rack on my kitchen bench, I would keep the tins of oil down there too. But the oil that I decant is always in the fridge.
Light and heat will damage your olive oil. Don't put your bottles of liquid gold on the windowsill and never, ever pour olive oil into plastic containers.
Mediterranean Diet as we get Older
- Basics of the Mediterranean Diet
You hear a lot about the Mediterranean diet, and why it keeps us healthier as we get older. But what exactly is a Mediterranean diet, and why is it claimed to be so good for us?
Horiatiki Salad Recipe
One sliced onion,
1/2 sliced cucumber
Salt, pepper and oregano
Mix the ingredients together and spread the oil over them. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and oregano.
How to Make Olive Pate
What you need
250 g of black olives with stone removed
80 g of anchovies washed and thinly cut
50 g of capers
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup brandy
200g olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
What you do
Mash up olives, anchovies and capers in a mortar
Add lemon juice, brandy,olive oil, salt, pepper and stir well.
Keep the pate in a closed jar in the fridge.
Smoked Salmon with Olive Cream Cheese Recipe
What you need
* 1/3 cup (79 ml) chopped, pitted green olives
* 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
* 2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons (30 g) finely chopped fresh chives
* freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 8 ounces (225 g) thinly sliced smoked salmon
What you do
In a small bowl, thoroughly mix chopped olives with the cream cheese, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Place a thin slice of salmon on your bench or board, with one of the narrow ends toward you.
Place a rounded tablespoon of the olive mixture on the end nearest you and roll up in the salmon.
Repeat with remaining salmon and cheese, arrange on a serving plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving time.
Candied Olives Recipe
Can you believe it?
Can you believe this? Sweet olives!
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 cup sugar
- Mince olives and air-dry overnight.
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Sprinkle the olive pieces on it.
- Combine sugar and water in a pot over low heat. Stir to dissolve. Cook over low heat until caramel forms.
- Pour caramel over olive pieces. Let harden. Smash brittle into small pieces.
Warm Olives with Rosemary Recipe
You can make this the day before
What you Need
* 6 cups mixed olives
* 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
* 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
What you do
Combine the olives, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in lay on a large sheet of aluminum foil.
Fold the foil to enclose the olives in a pouch. You can now put this in the frig if you're making the day before.
Heat oven to medium Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
What do you think of 'liquid gold'?
Do you use olives?
All comments are appreciated.
© 2008 Susanna Duffy