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Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from
olive The olive, botanical name ''Olea europaea'', meaning "European olive", is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodivers ...

olive
s (the fruit of ''Olea europaea''; family
Oleaceae Oleaceae, also known as the olive family, is a Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic family (biology), family of flowering plant, flowering shrubs, trees, and a few lianas in the Order (biology), order Lamiales, It presently comprises 28 genera, one of wh ...
), a traditional tree crop of the
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
, produced by pressing whole olives and extracting the oil. It is commonly used in cooking, for frying foods or as a
salad dressing A salad is a dish consisting of mixed pieces of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any ...

salad dressing
. It is also used in
cosmetics Cosmetics are constituted mixtures of chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and take ...
,
pharmaceuticals A medication (also called medicament, medicine, pharmaceutical drug, medicinal drug or simply drug) is a drug File:Aspirine macro shot.jpg, Uncoated aspirin Tablet (pharmacy), tablets, consisting of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along w ...
, and
soap Soap is a salt (chemistry), salt of a fatty acid used in a variety of cleansing and lubricating products. In a domestic setting, soaps are surfactants usually used for washing, bathing, and other types of housekeeping. In industrial settings, ...

soap
s, and as a
fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical con ...

fuel
for traditional
oil lamp An oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and continues to this day, although their use is less common in modern times. ...

oil lamp
s, and has additional uses in some religions. The olive is one of three core food plants in
Mediterranean cuisine Mediterranean cuisine is the food and methods of preparation used by the people of the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands ...

Mediterranean cuisine
; the other two are
wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat Common wheat (''Triticum aestivum'' ...

wheat
and
grapes A grape is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term ...

grapes
. Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC.
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
accounts for almost half of global olive oil production; other major producers are
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several larg ...

Tunisia
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and ...

Turkey
. Per capita consumption is highest in Greece, followed by Italy and Spain. The composition of olive oil varies with the cultivar, altitude, time of harvest and extraction process. It consists mainly of
oleic acid Oleic acid is a fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and t ...

oleic acid
(up to 83%), with smaller amounts of other
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s including
linoleic acid Linoleic acid is an organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules ...

linoleic acid
(up to 21%) and
palmitic acid Palmitic acid, or hexadecanoic acid in IUPAC nomenclature The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC ) is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations t ...

palmitic acid
(up to 20%). Extra virgin olive oil is required to have no more than 0.8% free acidity and is considered to have favorable flavor characteristics.


History

Olive oil has long been a common ingredient in
Mediterranean cuisine Mediterranean cuisine is the food and methods of preparation used by the people of the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands ...

Mediterranean cuisine
, including
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
and
Roman cuisine Roman cuisine comes from the Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** R ...
. Wild olives, which originated in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
, were collected by
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
people as early as the 8th millennium BC.Davidson, ''s.v.'' Olives Besides food, olive oil has been used for religious
ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, ...

ritual
s,
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
s, as a
fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical con ...

fuel
in
oil lamp An oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and continues to this day, although their use is less common in modern times. ...

oil lamp
s, soap-making, and skin care application. The
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek Doric or Dorian ( grc, Δωρισμός, Dōrismós) was an . Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern as well as in , , , , , some islands in the southern and some cities on the south east coast of ...

Sparta
ns and other Greeks used oil to rub themselves while exercising in the gymnasia. From its beginnings early in the 7th century BC, the cosmetic use of olive oil quickly spread to all of the Hellenic city states, together with athletes training in the nude, and lasted close to a thousand years despite its great expense. Olive oil was also popular as a form of birth control;
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
in his ''
History of Animals ''History of Animals'' ( grc-gre, Τῶν περὶ τὰ ζῷα ἱστοριῶν, ''Ton peri ta zoia historion'', "Inquiries on Animals"; la, Historia Animalium, "History of Animals") is one of the major texts on biology by the ancient Gr ...
'' recommends applying a mixture of olive oil combined with either oil of cedar, ointment of
lead Lead is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metals, heavy metal that is density, denser than most common materials. Lead is Mohs scale of mineral hardness#Intermediate h ...

lead
, or ointment of
frankincense Frankincense (also known as olibanum) is an aromatic forms of benzene (top) combine to produce an average structure (bottom) In chemistry, aromaticity is a property of cyclic compound, cyclic (ring (chemistry), ring-shaped), plane (geometry), p ...
to the
cervix The cervix or cervix uteri (Latin, 'neck of the uterus') is the lower part of the uterus The uterus (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

cervix
to prevent pregnancy.


Early cultivation

It is not clear when and where olive trees were first domesticated. The modern olive tree most likely originated in ancient
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
and
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, and spread to the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
and later to
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, though some scholars argue for an Egyptian origin. The olive tree reached Greece,
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...

Carthage
and
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
sometime in the
28th century BC The 28th century BC was a century A century is a period of 100 years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages. The word ''century'' comes from the Latin ''centum'', meaning ''one hundred''. ''Century'' is sometimes ...
, having been spread westward by the
Phoenicians Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0 ...

Phoenicians
. Until around 1500 BC, eastern coastal areas of the Mediterranean were most heavily cultivated. Evidence also suggests that olives were being grown in
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology ...

Crete
as long ago as 2500 BC. The earliest surviving olive oil
amphora An amphora (; grc, ἀμφορεύς, ''amphoreús''; English plural: amphorae or amphoras) is a type of container with a pointed bottom and characteristic shape and size which fit tightly (and therefore safely) against each other in storage ...
e date to 3500 BC (
Early Minoan The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the s ...
times), though the production of olive oil is assumed to have started before 4000 BC. Olive trees were certainly cultivated by the
Late Minoan The Minoan chronology dating system is a measure of the phases of the Minoan civilization. Initially established as a relative dating system by English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 and 1903 based on his analysis of Minoan pottery ...
period (1500 BC) in Crete, and perhaps as early as the Early Minoan. The cultivation of olive trees in Crete became particularly intense in the post-palatial period and played an important role in the island's economy, as it did across the Mediterranean. Later, as Greek colonies were established in other parts of the Mediterranean, olive farming was introduced to places like
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and continued to spread throughout the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. Olive trees were introduced to the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
in the 16th century AD when cultivation began in areas that enjoyed a climate similar to the Mediterranean such as
Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern ...

Chile
,
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered ...

Argentina
and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
. Recent genetic studies suggest that species used by modern cultivators descend from multiple wild populations, but a detailed history of domestication is not yet forthcoming.


Trade and production

Archaeological evidence The archaeological record is the body of physical (Recorded history, not written) scientific evidence, evidence about the past. It is one of the core concepts in archaeology, the academic discipline concerned with documenting and interpreting the ar ...
shows that by 6000 BC olives were being turned into olive oil and in 4500 BC at a now-submerged prehistoric settlement south of
Haifa Haifa ( he, חֵיפָה ' ; ar, حيفا ') is the List of cities in Israel, third-largest city in Israel—after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—with a population of in . The city of Haifa forms part of the Haifa metropolitan area, the third-most ...

Haifa
. Olive trees and oil production in the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced to archives of the ancient city-state
Ebla Ebla (Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", ifrom ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Literally, "land of the native ...

Ebla
(2600–2240 BC), which were located on the outskirts of the
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
n city
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 ...

Aleppo
. Here some dozen documents dated 2400 BC describe lands of the king and the queen. These belonged to a library of clay tablets perfectly preserved by having been baked in the fire that destroyed the palace. A later source is the frequent mentions of oil in the
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, ...
. Dynastic
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...

Egyptians
before 2000 BC imported olive oil from Crete, Syria and
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
and oil was an important item of commerce and wealth. Remains of olive oil have been found in jugs over 4,000 years old in a tomb on the island of
Naxos Naxos (; el, Νάξος, ) is a list of islands of Greece, Greek island and the largest of the Cyclades. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture. The island is famous as a source of Emery (rock), emery, a rock rich in corundum, which un ...
in the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between Europe's Geography of Europe, Balkan peninsula and Asia's Anatolia peninsula. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In ...

Aegean Sea
.
Sinuhe ''The Story of Sinuhe'' (also known as Sanehat) Retrieved November 6, 2018. is considered one of the finest works of ancient Egyptian literature Ancient Egyptian literature was written in the Egyptian language from ancient Egypt's History of ...
, the Egyptian exile who lived in northern Canaan about 1960 BC, wrote of abundant olive trees. The Minoans used olive oil in religious ceremonies. The oil became a principal product of the
Minoan civilization The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the s ...
, where it is thought to have represented wealth. Olive oil was also a major export of
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
(c. 1450–1150 BC). Scholars believe the oil was made by a process where olives were placed in woven mats and squeezed. The oil collected in vats. This process was known from the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
and has been used by the Egyptians and continued to be used through the
Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...
. The importance of olive oil as a commercial commodity increased after the Roman conquest of Egypt, Greece and Asia Minor led to more trade along the Mediterranean. Olive trees were planted throughout the entire Mediterranean basin during evolution of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
and
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

Empire
. According to the historian
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, includi ...

Pliny the Elder
, Italy had "excellent olive oil at reasonable prices" by the 1st century AD—"the best in the Mediterranean". As olive production expanded in the 5th century AD the Romans began to employ more sophisticated production techniques like the
olive press period in Capernaum Olive oil extraction is the process of extracting the oil present in olive drupes, known as olive oil. Olive oil is produced in the mesocarp plant cell, cells, and stored in a particular type of vacuole called a lipo vacuol ...

olive press
and ''trapetum'' (pictured left). Many ancient presses still exist in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and some dating to the Roman period are still in use today. Productivity was greatly improved by Joseph Graham's development of the
hydraulic Hydraulics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

hydraulic
pressing system developed in 1795.


Symbolism and mythology

The olive tree has historically been a symbol of peace between nations. It has played a religious and social role in
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
, especially concerning the name of the city of
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
where the city was named after the goddess
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied ...

Athena
because her gift of an olive tree was held to be more precious than rival
Poseidon Poseidon (; grc-gre, Ποσειδῶν, ) was one of the Twelve Olympians upright=1.8, Fragment of a relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The t ...

Poseidon
's gift of a salt spring.


Varieties

There are many
olive cultivars The olive, known by the botanical name ''Olea europaea'', meaning "European olive", is a species of small tree in the family (biology), family Oleaceae, found traditionally in the Mediterranean Basin. The species is cultivated in all the countr ...
, each with a particular flavor, texture, and shelf life that make them more or less suitable for different applications, such as direct human consumption on bread or in salads, indirect consumption in domestic cooking or catering, or industrial uses such as animal feed or engineering applications. During the stages of maturity, olive fruit changes color from green to violet, and then black. Olive oil taste characteristics depend on which stage of ripeness olive fruits are collected.


Uses


Culinary use

Olive oil is an important
cooking oil Cooking oil is plant, animal, or synthetic fat In nutrition Nutrition is the biochemical and physiological process by which an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') ...
in countries surrounding the Mediterranean, and it forms one of the three staple food plants of
Mediterranean cuisine Mediterranean cuisine is the food and methods of preparation used by the people of the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands ...

Mediterranean cuisine
, the other two being
wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat Common wheat (''Triticum aestivum'' ...

wheat
(as in
pasta Pasta (, ; ) is a type of food typically made from an unleavened dough of wheat flour mixed with water or eggs, and formed into sheets or other shapes, then cooked by boiling or baking. Rice flour, or legumes such as beans or lentils, are so ...

pasta
,
bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history, it has been a prominent food in large parts of the world. It is one of the oldest man-made foods, having been of significant impor ...

bread
, and
couscous Couscous; ', or kseksu is a North African dish of small (about in diameter) steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings (intermediate milling stage) of durum, durum wheat mainly used in m ...

couscous
) and the
grape A grape is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term ...

grape
, used as a dessert
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
and for
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink An alcoholic drink is a drink A drink (or beverage) is a liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flow ...

wine
. Extra virgin olive oil is mostly used as a
salad dressing A salad is a dish consisting of mixed pieces of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any ...

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 Sautéing or sauteing (, ; in reference to tossing while cooking) is a method of cooking that uses a relatively small amount of oil An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical ...
. When extra virgin olive oil is heated above , depending on its free fatty acid content, the unrefined particles within the oil are burned. This leads to deteriorated taste. Refined olive oils are suited for
deep frying Deep frying (also referred to as deep fat frying) is a cooking Cooking, cookery, or culinary arts is the art, science, and craft of using heat In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mec ...
because of the higher
smoke point The smoke point, also referred to as the burning point, is the temperature at which an oil or fat begins to produce a continuous bluish smoke that becomes clearly visible, dependent upon specific and defined conditions. Smoke point values can vary ...
and milder flavour. Extra virgin oils have a smoke point around , with higher-quality oils having a higher smoke point, whereas refined light olive oil has a smoke point up to . It is a "popular myth" that high-quality extra virgin olive oil is a poor choice for cooking as its smoke point is above the temperatures required for most cooking (outside of high-temperature applications like
deep frying Deep frying (also referred to as deep fat frying) is a cooking Cooking, cookery, or culinary arts is the art, science, and craft of using heat In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mec ...
,
shallow frying Shallow frying is a hot oil An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. A ...
, and
searing Searing (or pan searing) is a technique used in grilling Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side. Grilling usually involves a significant amount of ...
), and has greater resistance to oxidation than most other cooking oils, as a result of its antioxidant and mono-unsaturated fat content. Choosing a cold-pressed olive oil can be similar to selecting a
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink An alcoholic drink is a drink A drink (or beverage) is a liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flow ...

wine
. The flavor of these oils varies considerably and a particular oil may be more suited for a particular dish. 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 less fragrant than fresh oil. After the first year, olive oil is more suitable for cooking than serving raw. The taste of the olive oil is influenced by the varietals used to produce the oil 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).


Religious use


Christianity

The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches use olive oil for the
Oil of Catechumens The Oil of Catechumens is the oil used in some traditional Christian churches during baptism; it is believed to strengthen the one being baptized to turn away from evil, temptation and sin. The catechumen, the person prepared for baptism, is also ...
(used to bless and strengthen those preparing for Baptism) and Oil of the Sick (used to confer the Sacrament of
Anointing of the Sick Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body. By extension, the term is also applied to related acts of sprinkling, d ...
or
Unction Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body. By extension, the term is also applied to related acts of sprinkling, dousing, or smearing a person or object with any perfume Perfume (, ; french: parf ...
). Olive oil mixed with a perfuming agent such as
balsam Balsam is the ous exudate (or ) which forms on certain kinds of trees and shrubs. Balsam (from balsamum "gum of the balsam tree", ultimately from Semitic, Aramaic ''busma'', Arabic ''balsam'' and Hebrew ''basam'', "spice", "perfume") owes its n ...
is
consecrated Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service. The word ''consecration'' literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different group ...

consecrated
by
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
s as Sacred
Chrism Chrism, also called myrrh, ''myron'', holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican Communion, Anglican, Assyrian Church of the East, Assyrian, Catholic Church, Catholic, Old Catholic Church, Old Catholic, East ...

Chrism
, which is used to confer the sacrament of
Confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants or young child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and wi ...
(as a symbol of the strengthening of the Holy Spirit), in the rites of
Baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

Baptism
and the
ordination Ordination is the process by which individuals are , that is, set apart and elevated from the class to the , who are thus then (usually by the composed of other clergy) to perform various religious . The process and ceremonies of ordination va ...
of
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
s and bishops, in the consecration of
altar An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phe ...

altar
s and churches, and, traditionally, in the anointing of monarchs at their
coronation A coronation is the act of placement or bestowal of a crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the stand ...

coronation
.
Eastern Orthodox Christians The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion ( ...
still use oil lamps in their churches, home prayer corners and in the cemeteries. A vigil lamp consists of a votive glass containing a half-inch of water and filled the rest with olive oil. The glass has a metal holder that hangs from a bracket on the wall or sits on a table. A cork float with a lit wick floats on the oil. To douse the flame, the float is carefully pressed down into the oil. Makeshift oil lamps can easily be made by soaking a ball of cotton in olive oil and forming it into a peak. The peak is lit and then burns until all the oil is consumed, whereupon the rest of the cotton burns out. Olive oil is a usual offering to churches and cemeteries.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism ...
uses virgin olive oil that has been blessed by the priesthood. This consecrated oil is used for anointing the sick.
Iglesia ni Cristo Iglesia ni Cristo (, abbreviated as INC; ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Iglesia de Cristo'') is an independent Nontrinitarianism, Nontrinitarian Christianity in the Philippines, Christian Christian denomination, church, founded in 1913 and regi ...
uses olive oil to anoint sick (in
Filipino Filipino may refer to: * Something from or related to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, ...
: "''Pagpapahid ng Langis''"), it is blessed by minister or deacon by prayer before anointing to the sick. After anointing, the Elder prays for Thanksgiving.


Judaism

In
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
observance, olive oil was the only fuel allowed to be used in the seven-branched menorah in the
Mishkan , Israel According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, ''mishkān'', meaning "residence" or "dwelling place"), also known as the Tent of the Congregation (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵד֩ ''’ōhel mō‘êḏ'', also Tent of ...
service during
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

the Exodus
of the tribes of
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
from
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, and later in the permanent
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the ...
. It was obtained by using only the first drop from a squeezed olive and was consecrated for use only in the Temple by the priests and stored in special containers. In modern times, although candles can be used to light the menorah at
Hanukkah or English translation: 'Establishing' or 'Dedication' (of the Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome o ...

Hanukkah
, oil containers are preferred, to imitate the original menorah. Olive oil was also used to prepare the
holy anointing oil The holy anointing oil (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans ...
used for priests, kings, prophets, and others.


Skin care

One study found that olive oil lowered the risk of
dermatitis Dermatitis is inflammation of the Human skin, skin, typically characterized by itchiness, erythema, redness and a rash. In cases of short duration, there may be small blisters, while in long-term cases the skin may become lichenification, thick ...

dermatitis
for infants in all gestational stages when compared with
emollient White petrolatum Moisturizer, or emollient, is a cosmetic preparation used for protecting, moisturizing, and lubricating the skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main ...
cream, while another study of adults found that topical treatment with olive oil "significantly damages the skin barrier" when compared to sunflower oil, and that it may make existing
atopic dermatitis Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema, is a long-term type of inflammation of the skin (dermatitis). It results in puritis, itchy, red, swollen, and cracked skin. Clear fluid may come from the affected areas, which often thickens ov ...

atopic dermatitis
worse. The researchers concluded that due to the negative outcome in adults, they do not recommend the use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin and infant massage. Applying olive oil to the skin does not help prevent or reduce
stretch marks :''"Striae :''" Striae" is also a general term referring to thin, narrow grooves or channels, or a thin line or band especially if several of them are parallel or close together.'' Stretch marks, also known as Striae or Striae distensae, are ...
.


Other

Olive oil is also a natural and safe lubricant, and can be used to lubricate kitchen machinery (grinders, blenders, cookware, etc.). It can also be used for illumination (oil lamps) or as the base for soaps and detergents. Some cosmetics also use olive oil as their base, and it can be used as a substitute for machine oil. Olive oil has also been used as both solvent and ligand in the synthesis of cadmium selenide quantum dots. The Ranieri Filo della Torre is an international literary prize for writings about extra virgin olive oil. It yearly honors poetry, fiction and non-fiction about extra virgin olive oil.


Extraction

Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. Green olives usually produce more bitter oil, and overripe olives can produce oil with fermentation defects, so for good extra virgin olive oil care is taken to make sure the olives are perfectly ripened. The process is generally as follows: # The olives are ground into paste using large millstones (traditional method), hammer, blade or disk mill (modern method). # If ground with millstones, the olive paste generally stays under the stones for 30 to 40 minutes. A shorter grinding process may result in a more raw paste that produces less oil and has a less ripe taste, a longer process may increase oxidation of the paste and reduce the flavor. After grinding, the olive paste is spread on fiber disks, which are stacked on top of each other in a column, then placed into the press. Pressure is then applied onto the column to separate the vegetal liquid from the paste. This liquid still contains a significant amount of water. Traditionally the oil was shed from the water by gravity (oil is less dense than water). This very slow separation process has been replaced by centrifugation, which is much faster and more thorough. The centrifuges have one exit for the (heavier) watery part and one for the oil. Olive oil should not contain significant traces of vegetal water as this accelerates the process of organic degeneration by microorganisms. The separation in smaller oil mills is not always perfect, thus sometimes a small watery deposit containing organic particles can be found at the bottom of oil bottles. # Modern grinders reduce the olives to paste in seconds. After grinding, the paste is stirred slowly for another 20 to 30 minutes in a particular container (malaxation), where the microscopic oil drops aggregate into bigger drops, which facilitates the mechanical extraction. The paste is then pressed by centrifugation/ the water is thereafter separated from the oil in a second centrifugation as described before.
The oil produced by only physical (mechanical) means as described above is called virgin oil. Extra virgin olive oil is virgin olive oil that satisfies specific high chemical and organoleptic criteria (low free acidity, no or very little organoleptic defects). A higher grade extra virgin olive oil is mostly dependent on favourable weather conditions; a drought during the flowering phase, for example, can result in a lower quality (virgin) oil. It is worth noting that olive trees produce well every couple of years, so greater harvests occur in alternate years (the year in-between is when the tree yields less). However the quality is still dependent on the weather. # Sometimes the produced oil will be filtered to eliminate remaining solid particles that may reduce the shelf life of the product. Labels may indicate the fact that the oil has ''not'' been filtered, suggesting a different taste. Fresh unfiltered olive oil usually has a slightly cloudy appearance, and is therefore sometimes called ''cloudy olive oil''. This form of olive oil used to be popular only among small scale producers but is now becoming "trendy", in line with consumer's demand for products that are perceived to be less processed. But generally, if not tasted or consumed soon after production, filtered olive oil should be preferred: "Some producers maintain that extra-virgin olive oils do not need filtration but also that filtration is detrimental to oil quality. This point of view should be considered as erroneous and probably the result of improper implementation of this operation. In fact, fine particles that are suspended in a virgin olive oil, even after the most effective centrifugal finishing, contain water and enzymes that may impair oil stability and ruin its sensory profile. [...] Filtration makes an extra-virgin olive oil more stable and also more attractive. If the suspended particles are not removed they slowly agglomerate and flocculate, forming a deposit on the bottom of the storage containers. Such a deposit continues to be at risk of enzymatic spoilage and, in the worst case, of development of anaerobic micro-organisms with further spoilage and hygienic risk. [...] It is [...] recommended that filtration be carried out as soon as possible after centrifugal separation and finishing."


Ancient Levant

In the ancient
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, three methods were used to produce different grades of olive oil. The finest oil was produced from fully developed and ripe olives harvested solely from the apex of the tree, and lightly pressed, "for what flows from light pressure is very sweet and very thin.", pp
288–289
/ref> The remaining olives are pressed with a heavier weight, and vary in ripeness. Inferior oil is produced from unripe olives that are stored for extended periods of time until they grow soft or begin to shrivel to become more fit for grinding. Others are left for extended periods in pits in the ground to induce sweating and decay before they are ground. According to the ''Geoponica'', salt and a little Niter, nitre are added when oil is stored. Oil was sometimes extracted from unripe olives, known in medieval times as ''anfa kinon'' (Greek language, Greek ὀμφάκιον, ὀμφάχινον; Latin ''omphacium''; ar, زيت الأنفاق), and used in cuisine and in medicine.


Pomace handling

The remaining semi-solid waste, called pomace, retains a small quantity (about 5–10%) of oil that cannot be extracted by further pressing, but only with chemical solvents. This is done in specialized chemical plants, not in the oil mills. The resulting oil is not "virgin" but "pomace oil". Handling of olive waste is an environmental challenge because the wastewater, which amounts to millions of tons (billions of liters) annually in the European Union, is not biodegradable, is toxicity, toxic to plants, and cannot be processed through conventional water treatment systems. Traditionally, olive pomace would be used as compost or developed as a possible biofuel, although these uses introduce concern due to chemicals present in the pomace. A process called "valorization" of olive pomace is under research and development, consisting of additional processing to obtain value-added byproducts, such as animal feed, food additives for human products, and polyphenol, phenolic and
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
extracts for potential human use.


Global market


Production

In 2019-20, world production of virgin olive oil was 3.2 million tonnes.
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
produced 35% of world production. (For more, see Acesur) The next largest producers were
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several larg ...

Tunisia
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
, and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and ...

Turkey
. Some 75% of Spain's production derives from the region of Andalucía, particularly within Province of Jaén (Spain), Jaén province which produces 70% of the olive oil in Spain. The world's largest olive oil mill (grinding), mill (almazara, in Spanish), capable of processing 2,500 tonnes of olives per day, is in the town of Villacarrillo, Jaén. Major Italian producers are the regions of Calabria and, above all, Apulia. Many PDO and PGI extra-virgin olive oil are produced in these regions. In Apulia, among the villages of Carovigno, Ostuni and Fasano is the Plain of Olive Trees, which counts some specimens as old as 3000 years; it has been proposed to add this plain to the UNESCO Heritage List. Excellent extra-virgin olive oil is also produced in Tuscany, in cities like Lucca, Florence, Siena which are also included in the association of "''Città dell'Olio"''. Italy imports about 65% of Spanish olive oil exports.


Global consumption

San Marino has by far the largest per capita consumption of olive oil worldwide, around 24 L; of olive oil per person per year; Greece, Spain and Italy, around 14 L;
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several larg ...

Tunisia
, Portugal,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, Jordan and Lebanon, around 8 L. Northern Europe and North America consume far less, around 0.7 L, but the consumption of olive oil outside its home territory has been rising steadily.


Regulation

The International Olive Council (IOC) is an intergovernmental organisation of states that produce olives or products derived from olives, such as olive oil. The IOC officially governs 95% of international production and holds great influence over the rest. The EU regulates the use of different protected designation of origin labels for olive oils. The United States is not a member of the IOC and is not subject to its authority, but on October 25, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture adopted new voluntary olive oil grading standards that closely parallel those of the IOC, with some adjustments for the characteristics of olives grown in the U.S. Additionally, U.S. Customs regulations on "country of origin" state that if a non-origin nation is shown on the label, then the real origin must be shown on the same side of the label and in comparable size letters so as not to mislead the consumer. Yet most major U.S. brands continue to put "imported from Italy" on the front label in large letters and other origins on the back in very small print. "In fact, olive oil labeled 'Italian' often comes from Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, and Greece." This makes it unclear what percentage of the olive oil is really of Italian origin.


Commercial grades

All production begins by transforming the olive fruit into olive paste by crushing or pressing. This paste is then malaxation, malaxed (slowly churned or mixed) to allow the microscopic oil droplets to agglomerate. The oil is then separated from the watery matter and fruit pulp with the use of a press (traditional method) or centrifuge, centrifugation (modern method). After extraction the remnant solid substance, called Olive mill pomace, pomace, still contains a small quantity of oil. One parameter used to characterise an oil is its Olive oil acidity, acidity. In this context, "acidity" is not Acid#Acid strength, chemical acidity in the sense of pH, but the percent (measured by weight) of Free fatty acids, free
oleic acid Oleic acid is a fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and t ...

oleic acid
. Measured by Quantitative analysis (chemistry), quantitative analysis, acidity is a measure of the hydrolysis of the oil's triglycerides: as the oil degrades, more fatty acids are freed from the glycerides, increasing the level of free acidity and thereby increasing Rancidification#Hydrolytic rancidity, hydrolytic rancidity. Another measure of the oil's chemical degradation is the organic peroxide, peroxide value, which measures the degree to which the oil is Oxidation, oxidized by free radicals, leading to ''oxidative'' rancidity. Phenolic acids present in olive oil also add acidic sensory perception, sensory properties to aroma and flavor. The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as: * ''Virgin'' means the oil was produced by the use of mechanical means only, with no chemical treatment. The term ''virgin oil'' with reference to production method includes all grades of virgin olive oil, including ''Extra virgin'', ''Virgin'', ''Ordinary virgin'' and ''Lampante virgin'' olive oil products, depending on quality (see below). * ''Lampante virgin oil'' is olive oil extracted by virgin (mechanical) methods but not suitable for human consumption without further refining; “lampante” is the attributive form of “lampa”, the Italian word for “lamp”, referring to the earlier use of such oil in
oil lamp An oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and continues to this day, although their use is less common in modern times. ...

oil lamp
s. Lampante virgin oil can be used for industrial purposes, or refined (see below) to make it edible. * ''Refined olive oil'' is the olive oil obtained from any grade of virgin olive oil by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. The refining process removes colour, odour and flavour from the olive oil, and leaves behind a very pure form of olive oil that is tasteless, colourless and odourless and extremely low in free fatty acids. Olive oils sold as the grades ''Extra virgin olive oil'' and ''Virgin olive oil'' therefore cannot contain any refined oil. * ''Crude olive pomace oil'' is the oil obtained by treating olive pomace (the leftover paste after the pressing of olives for virgin olive oils) with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is then further refined into ''Refined olive pomace oil'' and once re-blended with virgin olive oils for taste, is then known as ''Olive pomace oil''.


International Olive Council

In countries that adhere to the standards of the International Olive Council, as well as in Australia, and under the voluntary United States Department of Agriculture labeling standards in the United States: Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of virgin olive oil derived by Olive oil extraction, cold mechanical extraction without use of solvents or refining methods. It contains no more than 0.8% Olive oil acidity, free acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects. Extra virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 65%, Spain 50%). According to International Olive Council, median of the fruity attribute must be higher than zero for a given olive oil in order to meet the criteria of extra virgin olive oil classification. Virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of virgin oil, with Olive oil acidity, free acidity of up to 2.0%, and is judged to have a good taste, but may include some sensory defects. Refined olive oil is virgin oil that has been refined using charcoal and other chemical and physical filters, methods which do not alter the glyceridic structure. It has a Olive oil acidity, free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is obtained by refining virgin oils to eliminate high acidity or organoleptic defects. Oils labeled as ''Pure olive oil'' or ''Olive oil'' are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin for taste. Olive Pomace Oil, Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil, often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as ''olive oil''. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, giving it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.


United States

As the United States is not a member, the IOC retail grades have no legal meaning there, but on October 25, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established Standards for Grades of Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil, which closely parallel the IOC standards: * U.S. Extra Virgin Olive Oil for oil with excellent flavor and odor and Olive oil acidity, free fatty acid content of not more than 0.8 g per 100 g (0.8%); * U.S. Virgin Olive Oil for oil with reasonably good flavor and odor and Olive oil acidity, free fatty acid content of not more than 2 g per 100 g (2%); * U.S. Virgin Olive Oil Not Fit For Human Consumption Without Further Processing is a virgin (mechanically-extracted) olive oil of poor flavor and odor, equivalent to the IOC's ''lampante'' oil; * U.S. Olive Oil is a mixture of virgin and refined oils; * U.S. Refined Olive Oil is an oil made from refined oils with some restrictions on the processing. These grades are voluntary. Certification is available, for a fee, from the USDA. In 2014, California adopted a set of olive oil standards for olive oil made from California-grown olives. The California Department of Food and Agriculture Grade and Labeling Standards for Olive Oil, Refined-Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil are mandatory for producers of more than 5,000 gallons of California olive oil. This joins other official state, federal and international olive oil standards. Several olive producer associations, such as the North American Olive Oil Association and the California Olive Oil Council, also offer grading and certification within the United States. Oleologist Nicholas Coleman suggests that the California Olive Oil Council certification is the most stringent of the voluntary grading schemes in the United States. Country of origin can be established by one or two letter country codes printed on the bottle or label. Country codes include I=Italy, GR=Greece, E=Spain, TU=Tunisia, MA=Morocco, CL=Chile, AG=Argentina, AU=Australia.


Label wording

* Different names for olive oil indicate the degree of processing the oil has undergone as well as the quality of the oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade available, followed by virgin olive oil. The word "virgin" indicates that the olives have been pressed to extract the oil; no heat or chemicals have been used during the extraction process, and the oil is pure and unrefined. Virgin olive oils contain the highest levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that have been linked with better health. * ''Olive Oil'', which is sometimes denoted as being "Made from refined and virgin olive oils" is a blend of refined olive oil with a virgin grade of olive oil. ''Pure'', ''Classic'', ''Light'' and ''Extra-Light'' are terms introduced by manufacturers in countries that are non-traditional consumers of olive oil for these products to indicate both their composition of being only 100% olive oil, and also the varying strength of taste to consumers. Contrary to a common consumer belief, they do not have fewer calories than extra virgin oil as implied by the names.Deborah Bogle/Tom Mueller "Losing our Virginity" The Advertiser (Adelaide), The Advertiser May 12, 2012 pp. 11–14 * ''Cold pressed'' or ''Cold extraction'' means "that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually ) during processing, thus retaining more nutrients and undergoing less degradation". The difference between ''Cold Extraction'' and ''Cold Pressed'' is regulated in Europe, where the use of a centrifuge, the modern method of extraction for large quantities, must be labelled as ''Cold Extracted'', while only a physically pressed olive oil may be labelled as ''Cold Pressed''. In many parts of the world, such as Australia, producers using centrifugal extraction still label their products as ''Cold Pressed''. * ''First cold pressed'' means "that the fruit of the olive was crushed exactly one time – i.e., the ''first press.'' The ''cold'' refers to the temperature range of the fruit at the time it is crushed". In Calabria (Italy) the olives are collected in October. In regions like Tuscany or Liguria, the olives collected in November and ground, often at night, are too cold to be processed efficiently without heating. The paste is regularly heated above the environmental temperatures, which may be as low as 10–15 °C, to extract the oil efficiently with only physical means. Olives pressed in warm regions like Southern Italy or Northern Africa may be pressed at significantly higher temperatures although not heated. While it is important that the pressing temperatures be as low as possible (generally below 25 °C) there is no international reliable definition of "cold pressed".
Furthermore, there is no "second" press of virgin oil, so the term "first press" means only that the oil was produced in a press vs. other possible methods. * ''Protected designation of origin'' (PDO) and ''protected geographical indication'' (PGI) refer to olive oils with "exceptional properties and quality derived from their place of origin as well as from the way of their production". * The label may indicate that the oil was bottled or packed in a stated country. This does not necessarily mean that the oil was produced there. The origin of the oil may sometimes be marked elsewhere on the label; it may be a mixture of oils from more than one country. * The U.S. Food and Drug Administration permitted a claim on olive oil labels stating: "Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 g) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."Drummond, Linda, ''Sunday Telegraph'' (Australia), October 17, 2010 Sunday, Features; p. 10.


Adulteration

There have been allegations, particularly in Italy and Spain, that regulation can be sometimes lax and corrupt. Major shippers are claimed to routinely adulterate olive oil so that only about 40% of olive oil sold as "extra virgin" in Italy actually meets the specification. In some cases, colza oil (extracted from rapeseed) with added color and flavor has been labeled and sold as olive oil. This extensive fraud prompted the Italian government to mandate a new labeling law in 2007 for companies selling olive oil, under which every bottle of Italian olive oil would have to declare the farm and press on which it was produced, as well as display a precise breakdown of the oils used, for blended oils. In February 2008, however, EU officials took issue with the new law, stating that under EU rules such labeling should be voluntary rather than compulsory. Under EU rules, olive oil may be sold as Italian even if it only contains a small amount of Italian oil. Extra virgin olive oil has strict requirements and is checked for "sensory defects" that include: rancid, fusty, musty, winey (vinegary) and muddy sediment. These defects can occur for different reasons. The most common are: * Raw material (olives) infected or battered * Inadequate harvest, with contact between the olives and soil In March 2008, 400 Italian police officers conducted "Operation Golden Oil", arresting 23 people and confiscating 85 farms after an investigation revealed a large-scale scheme to relabel oils from other Mediterranean nations as Italian. In April 2008, another operation impounded seven olive oil plants and arrested 40 people in nine provinces of northern and southern Italy for adding chlorophyll to Sunflower oil, sunflower and soybean oil, and selling it as extra virgin olive oil, both in Italy and abroad; 25,000 liters of the fake oil were seized and prevented from being exported. On March 15, 2011, the prosecutor's office in Florence, Italy, working in conjunction with the forestry department, indicted two managers and an officer of Carapelli, one of the brands of the Spanish company Grupo SOS (which recently changed its name to Deoleo). The charges involved falsified documents and food fraud. Carapelli lawyer Neri Pinucci said the company was not worried about the charges and that "the case is based on an irregularity in the documents." In February 2012, Spanish authorities investigated an international olive oil scam in which palm, avocado, sunflower and other cheaper oils were passed off as Italian olive oil. Police said the oils were blended in an industrial biodiesel plant and adulterated in a way to hide markers that would have revealed their true nature. The oils were not toxic and posed no health risk, according to a statement by the Guardia Civil. Nineteen people were arrested following the year-long joint probe by the police and Spanish tax authorities, part of what they call Operation Lucerna. Using tiny print to state the origin of blended oil is used as a legal loophole by manufacturers of adulterated and mixed olive oil. Journalist Tom Mueller has investigated crime and adulteration in the olive oil business, publishing the article "Slippery Business" in ''New Yorker'' magazine, followed by the 2011 book ''Extra Virginity''. On 3 January 2016 Bill Whitaker (journalist), Bill Whitaker presented a program on CBS News including interviews with Mueller and with Italian authorities. It was reported that in the previous month 5,000 tons of adulterated olive oil had been sold in Italy, and that organised crime was heavily involved—the term "Agrimafia" was used. The point was made by Mueller that the profit margin on adulterated olive oil was three times that on the illegal narcotic drug cocaine. He said that over 50% of olive oil sold in Italy was adulterated, as was 75–80% of that sold in the US. Whitaker reported that 3 samples of "extra virgin olive oil" had been bought in a US supermarket and tested; two of the three samples did not meet the required standard, and one of them—with a top-selling US brand—was exceptionally poor. In early February 2017, the Carabinieri arrested 33 suspects in the Calabrian mafia's Piromalli 'ndrina ('Ndrangheta) which was allegedly exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the U.S.; the product was actually inexpensive olive pomace oil fraudulently labeled. Less than a year earlier, the American television program 60 Minutes had warned that "the olive oil business has been corrupted by the Mafia" and that "Agromafia" was a $16-billion per year enterprise. A Carabinieri investigator interviewed on the program said that "olive oil fraud has gone on for the better part of four millennia" but today, it's particularly "easy for the bad guys to either introduce adulterated olive oils or mix in lower quality olive oils with extra-virgin olive oil". Weeks later, a report by Forbes stated that "it's reliably reported that 80% of the Italian olive oil on the market is fraudulent" and that "a massive olive oil scandal is being uncovered in Southern Italy (Puglia, Umbria and Campania)".


Constituents

Olive oil is composed mainly of the mixed triglyceride esters of
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s, along with traces of squalene (up to 0.7%) and sterols (about 0.2% phytosterol and tocosterols). The composition varies by cultivar, region, altitude, time of harvest, and extraction process.


Phenolic composition

Olive oil contains traces of polyphenols, phenolics (about 0.5%), such as esters of tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal and oleuropein, which give extra virgin olive oil its bitter (taste), bitter, pungent taste, and are also implicated in its aroma. Olive oil is a source of at least 30 phenolic compounds, among which are elenolic acid, a marker for maturation of olives, and alpha-tocopherol, one of the eight members of the Vitamin E family. Oleuropein, together with other closely related compounds such as 10-hydroxyoleuropein, ligstroside and 10-hydroxyligstroside, are tyrosol esters of elenolic acid. Other phenolic constituents include flavonoids, lignans and pinoresinol.


Nutrition

One tablespoon of olive oil (13.5 g) contains the following nutritional information according to the USDA: * Food energy: * Fat: 13.5 g (21% of the Daily Value, DV) * Saturated fat: 2 g (9% of DV) * Carbohydrates: 0 * Fibers: 0 * Protein: 0 * Vitamin E: 1.9 mg (10% of DV) * Vitamin K: 8.1 µg (10% of DV)


Comparison to other vegetable oils (below)


Potential health effects

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA allows producers of olive oil to place the following qualified health claim on private label, product labels: In a review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2011, health claims on olive oil were approved for protection by its polyphenols against oxidation of blood lipids, and for maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol levels by replacing saturated fats in the diet with
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. (See also: Commission Regulation (EU) 432/2012 of 16 May 2012). Despite its approval, the EFSA has noted that a definitive cause-and-effect relationship has not been adequately established for consumption of olive oil and maintaining normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides, normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations, and normal blood glucose concentrations. A 2014 meta-analysis concluded that increased consumption of olive oil was associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events and stroke, while monounsaturated fatty acids of mixed animal and plant origin showed no significant effects. Another meta-analysis in 2018 found high-polyphenol olive oil intake was associated with improved measures of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, malondialdehyde, and oxidized LDL when compared to low-polyphenol olive oils, although it recommended longer studies, and more investigation of non-Mediterranean populations.


See also

* Amurca * List of ancient dishes, List of ancient dishes and foods * List of cuisines * Dip (food)#List of common dips, List of dips


Notes


References


Further reading

* Caruso, Tiziano / Magnano di San Lio, Eugenio (eds.). ''La Sicilia dell'olio'', Giuseppe Maimone Editore, Catania, 2008, * Davidson, Alan. ''The Oxford Companion to Food'', Oxford, 1999. . * Mueller, Tom. ''Extra Virginity – The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil'', Atlantic Books, London, 2012. . * Pagnol, Jean. ''L'Olivier'', Aubanel, 1975. . * Palumbo, Mary; Linda J. Harris (December 2011
"Microbiological Food Safety of Olive Oil: A Review of the Literature"
(PDF), University of California, Davis * Preedy, V.R. / Watson, R.R. (eds.). ''Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention'', Academic Press, 2010. . * Rosenblum, Mort. ''Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit'', North Point Press, 1996. .
CODEX STAN 33-1981 Standard for Olive Oils and Olive Pomace Oils
{{Authority control Olive oil, Condiments Cooking oils Mediterranean cuisine Vegetable oils