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Benson's Gourmet Seasonings Newsletter
OLIVE OIL ADDS FLAVOR AND HELPS YOUR HEART
Hello Everyone and Welcome,
The olive is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world - over 6,000 years ago. There are over 70 varieties of olives. Olive oil is used with food and cooking, for ceremonial use, used medicinally, helps skin, helps hair, as a soap, heating oil, lamp fuel and more. Learn how this amazing life giving olive oil can improve your health and improve the flavor of your food.
My first memory of olive oil is Mom driving us to a local winery with a large, empty, dark green glass container. They filled it with olive oil. I remember asking Mom about this and she said this winery gave local families discounts if they brought their own bottles plus they had good fresh olive oil. I will always remember the aroma and the flavor.
We always used olive oil, for cooking and for salads. We also used olive oil for stomach aches, ear aches, to make our hair shine, for our skin, nails, even a little in our dog's food. Of course we had shortening for pie crusts and vegetable oil for some things, but I remember always reaching for the olive oil. When we moved from that area, we bought olive oil at the grocery store. That’s when I learned that olive oil was not all the same. There were big flavor differences. I learned this when I was pretty young. I am not an expert, but I learned back then that there are many kinds and flavors of olive oil. I am always trying new olive oils and have a variety in my cupboard.
My Step-Dad, George, worked in Greece for several years. When he came home on vacation, he looked so healthy. He said it was all the olive oil… keeps you regular. Plus it’s the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, garlic, lemons, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, olives, fresh fish & seafood, dill, parsley, feta cheese and wine. Not too much meat or dairy. With lots of fresh air, walking, laughter and the sea. Everything was fresh. How could you not be healthy?
Olive oil has so many different flavor nuances. The flavor depends on where the olive oil comes from, the type of olive pressed, how it is pressed, which pressing, how the olive oil is stored, the freshness of the olive oil, filtering, etc. Then there are the blends of different olive oils. Olive oil is not all the same and definitely doesn't taste the same. Think of olive oil flavors like different flavors of wine. Terroir: is the land, this gives each country and region special characteristics that show up as different flavors and the weather can change the flavor from year to year. This is why foods, including olive oil, taste so different from different parts of the world.
Most olive oil comes from Spain, the largest exporter of olive oil in the world. Of course, you can find olive oil from Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Australia and many other countries, including the US. In the United States, California is the major producer of olive oil. Even so, they produce only about 1% of the olive oil sold here. That means that most of our olive oil is imported.
What Kind Of Olive Oil Should I Buy?
Folks ask me this all the time. This is a hard question to answer as there are so many options, especially if you’ve never used olive oil before. You may not like the same olive oil that I like. You want to buy something you like. You will learn this as you go along. I will try to give you some guidelines I use, to help me choose an olive oil. I will recommend one at the end of the newsletter*.
I don’t think Imported or Domestic influences me too much, I like both. Many of the California Olive Oils come from families who immigrated from Italy, Greece, Spain, and other countries. They still use many of their family’s traditional methods for harvesting and extracting the olive oil. I live in California and do enjoy many California Olive Oils. I go for taste. Some of the best olive oils, (I'm a little partial), come from California. Just know that I have olive oils from Italy, Greece and Spain in my cupboard.
Help Clarify The Different Types Of Olive Oil and What Do I Cook With?
To be called olive oil … it must come only from the fruit of the olive tree.
Interesting Olive Oil Facts...
Per year the average Italian uses 15 liters of olive oil. The average Greek uses 19 liters of olive oil per person. Crete uses the most olive oil, an average of 31 liters per person, per year. Here in the US it is only about ½ (one half) liter per person per year. That’s a big difference.
Note: 1 US quart = .943 liters and 1 US gallon = about 3.77 liters
How you store olive oil is very important!
Olives are a fruit and olive oil is like a fruit juice.
Flavor Tip: Unless you use a lot of olive oil you should buy it in smaller bottles. Keep it fresh.
Taste Tested Supermarket Extra Virgin Olive Oils
America's Test Kitchen Taste Test of 9 Supermarket Extra Virgin Olive Oils revealed these as their top three brands:
This statement is approved by the FDA for the olive oil label: “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”
Note: I know this statement says “olive oil” but actually Extra Virgin olive oil is best, as it has the most polyphenols which work as antioxidants to keep your heart healthy and is not refined. (I try to avoid all refined oils, as they have been shown not to be healthy. Use Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oils for the most health benefits and flavor.)
Here is a short list of some of the health benefits of olive oil:
Classic Vinaigrette Recipe
Try this heart healthy vinaigrette with different vinegars and different Extra Virgin Olive Oils.
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 rounded teaspoon Dijon mustard, or regular mustard
1 Clove garlic, finely minced, optional
1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon #103 Table Tasty salt substitute, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to your taste (about 5 twists)
Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk about 15 seconds with a wire whisk or even a fork will do, until well blended and slightly emulsified (thickened). Or, add all ingredients into a jar with a lid. Shake well, about 20 seconds, until emulsified.
If the olive oil taste is too strong for you, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of a lighter tasting olive oil or water. Makes dressing for 10-12 cups of salad greens. Easy to make in about 5 minutes.
Click on this link to their website: www.ApolloOliveOil.com
I hope this information is helpful to you and that you will start including Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your heart healthy diet. Extra Virgin Olive Oil tastes good and is good for you.
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Just like olive oil, fresh seasonings are so important for good aroma and flavor.
Coming up next...Read the about the heart healthy and flavor benefits of nuts. You can add walnuts to your salads, use almonds to coat your fish or pecans for chicken, pine nuts for pesto, even use cashews to thicken soups. Click here for the next newsletter: Nuts Add Flavor & Nuts Are Very Heart Healthy
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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