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Olive oil guide

 

 

ORGANIC FARM PAOLO BETTINI

via Rignano n.8, I-06036 Montefalco,Perugia, Italy.

phone and fax: +39 (0)742 378127

 portatile phone: +39-340-4139294- e-mail: info@aziendabettini.com


Text revisor and webmaster:

Dr. Marco Bettini, Italian expert of olive oils.

 

In recent years, scientific studies have confirmed that olive oil is of considerable health benefit, especially for the heart (see our guide for more information). That’s because it’s very low in saturated fats (a major factor in heart disease) and high in omega-3 fatty acids and and antioxidants, which are both essential for heart health.  

But olives are subject to the same agricultural poisons that pollute other crops of otherwise beneficial foods. Harmful chemicals can compromise the quality of olive oil at both the growing and processing end, so that while you get enthused about the olive’s health benefits, you also must be prudent regarding your choice of olive oils.

Here you are, using a premium olive oil to improve your health, but you may be ingesting hexane, caustic soda, and naphthaleneacetic acid, commonly used in olive oil production. Organic olive oil, with purity assured from tree cultivation through to bottling, is the obvious solution.

Traditional olive tree cultivation in Europe tends to involve synthetic chemicals and pesticides.

Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers “enrich” the fields, copper sprays spur plant growth, herbicides kill unwanted grasses and weeds, and insecticides dispense with harmful insects. Naphthaleneacetic acid is used to thin the crop on the trees in order to make the remaining olives bigger. Crop yields may increase, but these practices deplete the soil, pollute the local ecosystem, and may leave toxic residues in the harvested olives.

Organic olive growers use natural substances and processes to enhance the soil’s nutrient content and to produce olives that are not laden with chemicals. Organic farmers mow between their olive trees to rid the orchards of weeds; and they plant cover crops, such as clover and vetch, to attract beneficial insects to control the undesirable ones.

We are certified and controlled by (ICEA), which is one of the organic regulatory agencies in Italy, designed from European Community (EC), to control and certificate organic food based on EC rule 2092/91.

To ensure that organic specifications have been fulfilled, look for the logo of one of these organizations or the words “From Organic Farming, in agreement to EC Reg. 2092/91” (Da Agricoltura Biologica in ottemperanza al Reg. CE 2092/91) on the bottle or tin of olive oil.

 

Making the Oil—When it comes to processing olives into oil, the olives must be processed within two days of harvesting to get the freshest oil. On a technical level, in most cases, olives are washed, crushed, and milled by stainless steel equipment (traditionally a mill stone was used), then filtered to remove sediments.

A crucial difference between conventional and organic oil processing and the presence of unhealthy chemicals pertains to how the oil processing machinery is cleaned. Conventional processors typically use strong chemicals to clean the presses and traces of these can make their way into the oil. In contrast, organic processors use only steam or hot water to clean their equipment.

Lesser grades of olive oil, those designated “refined” (see below), use harsh chemicals such as caustic soda or hexane, which is a potential carcinogen (according to the Environmental Protection Agency), to extract the remaining oil from the olives in a second or third pressing. These refined oils are often mixed with virgin oil to make them palatable. Consumers should be wary of any olive oils that are not virgin grade: they may contain inferior oil and traces of the extraction solvents.

Organic oils tend to cost more than conventional oils, but, increasingly, consumers seem willing to pay more for quality and the health benefits. And what about the flavor of organic olive oil? Many conventional olive growers sell off their best olives to canneries and use only the remaining fruit to make olive oil. We use all of our olives for making organic oil, to get a superior tasting product.

 

Olive oil quality grades.

Ø   Extra Virgin: extraction of olive oil solely by mechanical method oand containing only 0.8% of free fatty acids (free-acidity), mostly oleic; otherwise perfectly natural and untreated. 

Ø   Extra Virgin cold pressecd : as above metioned foe extra virgin olive oil but  using extraction temperature below 27°C. (see our oil features for more information).  

Ø   Fine Virgin: Also mechanical-pressing oil, but slightly more acidic, between 1% and 2%.

Ø   Virgin: Processed using mechanical means (pressure) only and without any added heating which would change the oil; it contains an acidity level of 1 to 5%; often late-season or overripe olives are used.

Ø   Ordinary (or Semi-fine) Virgin: mechanical-pressed oil, up to 3.3% acidity.

Ø   Pure: Usually a blend of refined olive oil (treated with steam and chemicals) and extra virgin, with a 3.1 to 4% acidity.

Ø   Refined: This means the oil is extracted during a second pressing using chemicals, often lye or hexane; these oils are often blended with virgin oils for consumption and labeled “olive oil”. Is the olive oil obtained from olive oils that not fit for consumption as it is, further by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure, based on precipitating excess acidity and deodorization.

Ø   Pomace: This is the lowest-grade made from the pulp solvent extraction (chemical extraction)  with 5 to 10% virgin olive oil added for flavor; 

 

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