All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

IAN & SPAIN

WELCOME TO MY BLOG. I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT SPANISH FOOD AND DRINK AND IN PARTICULAR MY OBSESSION FOR OLIVE OIL, ONE OF SPAIN'S MAJOR ASSETS AND GREATLY MISUNDERSTOOD BY THE MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS WORLDWIDE. I WILL ENDEAVOR TO PROVIDE YOU WITH ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO ENJOY THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL WITHOUT BEING TAKEN FOR A RIDE! HOPE YOU ENJOY IT AND PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS!

Just how "Italian" are Italian Olive Oils?
30 November 2012

 

 

                                             

Olive Oils labeled “Italian” are in fact 66% Spanish, says a report recently released by the Turin newspaper, La Stampa.


Italy accounts for 65% of all olive oil exports from Spain. Their food industry, one of the world's most powerful and with large multinationals that dominate the crop-processing absorbs most of the Spanish olive oil producers’ harvests. These transactions are conducted via tanker lorries collecting bulk olive oil from depots and cooperatives around the country, including Valencia where I live, which is one of the major producing areas of Spain after Andalucia. Spain’s neighbour then packages the product, maybe even blends it with other oils and then re-exports it through the leading distribution companies in the EU, of course with the stamp “Made in Italy”. Moreover, two-thirds of the oil it sells in its home market is also Spanish, as has recently reported the largest association of producers in the country, Coldiretti, whose leaders warn that in 2011 oil imports exceeded exports by a long way. So the chances are even the Italians, so proud of their Olive Oil probably haven’t even tried an Italian Olive Oil for quite some time!


Valencia is one of the leading regions for exporting Olive Oil and mainly to Italy. From Maestrat to Vall d'Albaida, among other regions, they continue sending tankers to the Italian industry throughout the season. According to data provided by ICEX, in recent years the value of exports fell compared to the 8, 2 million euros achieved in 2007. Drought and other factors have reduced the harvests considerably and this year it will be even less compared to previous campaigns owing to the lack of rain during the summer. Nonetheless, exports remain a key feature of their business strategy. 


The EU is starting to take action in the matter. The Italian producers’ organisation Coldiretti claims that "under the guise of the brand "Made in Italy" national olive oils are mixed with imported Spanish olive oil to acquire the image of the country and pass off as products from  historical Italian brands" mentions the report by La Stampa . Olive Oil labelled Italian is in fact two-thirds Spanish says the study carried out by the Italy’s largest association of farmers. Most of the 600,000 tons of oil in 2011 that Italy imported came from Spanish olive groves, but also from Greece, Portugal, France and Turkey. With the case of Spanish Olive Oil, some Italian olive oil producers bought  olive oil at a price of 50 cents a kilo, which was then resold on to the domestic market at a cost price of between € 2.50 and €3.


"The speculators are manipulating the business and doing a lot of damage," laments the environmental technician and expert on the oil sector, Ferran Gregori. The rogue Italian industry is committing a crime, the European Union not so long ago enforced a law  on the clarity of olive oil origin  for  labelling standards, and those who are carrying out this fraud generate about 5,000 million euros in profit annually, warns the representatives of Coldiretti .


According to the technician for the Llauradors Union, "Italy absorbs a lot of Spanish olive oil exports because it runs some of the largest food businesses in the world. The same happens with the almonds in Spain, we import them and then sell them on" Gregori pointed out. In his opinion, the fact that some Italian producers are denouncing this, the volume of imports clearly justifies their complaints. "If there is fraud in the labelling the matter should be taken up with the authorities so not to manipulate consumers," adds the director of the Union.


In view of the situation, Italy is working on a bill to protect it’s oil against increased imports of foreign oil and counterfeiting. This legal proposal, according to Agrodigital, has been presented by the producers’ organisation Coldiretti, Symbola Foundation (Foundation for the quality of Italian products) and Unaprol (association of growers).


The main changes contained in the bill are to require larger letters on the labels, measures to prevent and eliminate deceptive brands and the secrets around the names of the companies that import foreign oil. 

Also they will include a classification control to supervise the qualitative characteristics of the oils. This aims to build a system of rules that protect consumers and ensure fair competition between businesses, preserving the authenticity of the product, the certainty of its territorial origin and the transparency of information provided to consumers.


So when many thought that Italian olive oil was the best in the world, little did they know that it is in fact most probably Spanish.

 
 
 

Other popular Olive Oil Articles by Ian Mackay ©

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

 

Go to article: Can I fry with Oilve Oil?

 

Go to article: The perfect Crime Scene

 



Like 0        Published at 10:41   Comments (2)


Spanish Cured Ham- What you need to know!
22 November 2012

 

Apart from extra virgin olive oil another of my favourites from the Spanish culinary world is cured ham, in particular Iberian Acorn Ham (Jamon de Bellota Iberica). Which is very different to Serrano Ham or the Italian Prosciutto and is unique to Spain. It is an absolute delicacy and one of the most moreish foods you will encounter! 

 

 

Fresh meat has been preserved throughout history and the pig has always played a particularly important role in this practice. This is partly because of its high reproductive capacity, and also due to the varying uses that can be made of its meat and the ease of storing and processing it. The great Mediterranean tradition for cured hams and cold meat products is believed to have originated with the Romans and Greeks as reflected in names such as "longaniza" (cured pork sausage) and "salchicha" (sausage) that come from the Roman lucanica and salsicius. The Mediterranean Diet is more than simply a sum of particular ingredients or recipes and makes better sense when associated with the climate, geography, customs and lifestyles in Mediterranean areas. Iberian Bellota Ham plays a key role in this kind of diet. Not only is it tasty and succulent, it also has specific properties that make it a unique food product and thus stands out from the other cured hams available throughout the Mediterranean Basin.

 

 

Iberian Bellota Ham is a low-calorie food, which is rich in vitamins and contains 50% more protein than fresh meat. A particularly surprising fact! Due to the natural and traditional curing process, Iberian acorn ham is a pure and aseptic food and the meat is free from any kind of manipulation. Iberian acorn ham is not just a food product, but also a delicacy with numerous other qualities. As well as being a pleasure for the palate, it also offers great health benefits.  Iberian ham is full of antioxidants and is high in vitamin E. It is especially beneficial when eaten with tomatoes. Iberian bellota ham contains excellent quality fat, with increased levels of oleic acid (over 50%), as found in olive oil. This facilitates the production of HDL ("good cholesterol") in the body, while reducing LDL ("bad cholesterol"). So when you start to combine extra virgin olive oil, Bellota Ham and other ingredients you can see suddenly how the Spanish diet is in particular so healthy, take a look at my post on “Pan Catalana”, so simple yet so healthy! For these reasons moderate consumption of the product helps to maintain cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular diseases as with extra virgin olive oil.


It provides a generous dosage of B group vitamins, especially B1 and B2. Just 100 grams of Iberian acorn ham provides 24% of the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin. It is also rich in iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium and above all phosphorus, providing 30% of the recommended daily allowance. 

 

 

It is a recommended food for hypo-calorific diets as 50 grams of our Iberian Bellota Ham has only 150 calories. So is Iberian Bellota ham the same as Jamon de Pata Negra( black hoof ham)? And how does it differ to Serrano Ham? This term “Pata Negra” refers exclusively to races of pigs with black hoofs and does not necessarily refer to Iberian pigs or those of a specific quality as commonly thought. In fact, there are Iberian pigs with different colourings. Serrano ham comes from a white pig which is fed mainly on fodder and is cured for a period of between 7 and 16 months. Gastronomically, serrano jamón is considered inferior to Iberian ham and is dried in a cold dry climate in the hills or mountains.


And Jabugo Ham? Where does this come in? Well it is a high quality Iberian Ham which comes from the mountainous region of Huelva. Jabugo is the best known of the mountainous villages. The name comes from the town not the type of ham. Many think cured ham should be salty, and normally find it dry but really if it is fresh and well made it  should be juicy and not salty. With regard to the firmness, the ham should be cured to an optimum point, though never too much (this point will vary depending of the part of the ham being cured). One of the differences between a serrano ham and an Iberian ham is the fluidity of the fat. An Iberian ham should always be moister than a serrano and a lot shinier.  It is common to see white dots in Iberian hams that may look like imperfections in the product. However, these dots are produced by the crystallisation of the thyroxine, an amino acid derivative of the proteins that experts consider a sure mark of quality and indicative of a long and unhurried maturing process and a sign of the pig having exercised well while in the pasture, as all pigs raised for Iberian acorn ham are free range and feed on acorns.

 

 


The main parts of a cured ham are: the maza, the contramaza and the babilla. The maza is the part with the most meat and is the most rich and succulent. The babilla has less jamón as it is confined by the femur and coxal bone. This part is less succulent than the maza so it is recommendable to start cutting here if the cured ham is going to be consumed over a period of time. The part known as the jarrete and the caña are usually diced into cubes of cured ham as the meat has a firmer texture and a different taste. Ham must always be eaten at room temperature in order to enjoy all of its sensual nuances. If the ham has been cut and stored in the refrigerator, or comes sliced in a packet, take it out of the refrigerator an hour before eating, to allow it to reach the correct temperature. 

 

 

I highly recommend it, as it is a delicacy you will find hard to live without once tasted!

 

Take a look at my other popular articles on Olive Oil :

 

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

 

Go to World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

 

Go to article: Can I fry with Oilve Oil?

 

Go to article: The perfect Crime Scene

 



Like 0        Published at 18:05   Comments (4)


Olive Oil helps Osteoporosis
20 November 2012

The results of a study announced recently into the possible treatment methods for osteoporosis have found that olive oil could play a role in both the future development of drugs as well as in the dietary requirements of patients. Investigations across various fields of medicine have even gone as far as detecting a molecule in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that works as a barrier for sexually transmitted HIV.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by a decrease in bone mass, which in turn causes the architecture of bone tissue to become fragile. This can then increase the possiblities of fractures, making even the slightest of knocks potentially fatal for sufferers.

 

 

The disease is recognised as being particularly prevalent among postmenopausal women for whom a decrease in the production of estrogen then weakens bone structures and most commonly affects the ribs, wrists, and hips. For this study, scientists were particularly interested in how a supplementation of olive oil could be used to help women in this category.

Tests were carried out on rats showing comparable conditions to female human menopause, with one group being treated orally with olive oil. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected and tested for levels of calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), malondialdehyde (MDA), and nitrates.

The results found that that rats not treated with olive oil showed a significant decrease in calcium levels and a significant increase in plasma ALP, MDA, and nitrates levels.

Olive oil supplementation proved to be beneficial and was found to both attenuate these changes and to positively affect the thickness of bones.

Diet plays a significant role in maintaining healthy bones for which it is important to eat foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, as well as those containing minerals including: phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, boron, iron, fluoride, and copper. Doctors often recommend foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and grains to improve mineral levels, while cod liver oil and fish such as tuna and salmon are considered to be good sources of Vitamin D. When it comes to improving levels of calcium, dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and fortified milk are very often recommended but olive oil can also be a good source. In one cup (216mg), olive oil contains 2.2mg of Calcium, as well as necessary minerals such as Iron (1.2mg), Potassium (2.2mg), and sodium (4.3mg).

Olive oil will not be the only solution in the continuing fight against postmenopausal osteoporosis but having performed well in the lab, scientists have concluded that it is a very promising candidate for future treatments of the disease.

 

The authors of the study are Dr. Nermine K Saleh and Dr. Hanan A Saleh, Ain Shams University, Egypt.

 

 

Go to study summary

source : International Olive Council // Olive Oil Times

 

 

Other popular articles by Ian Mackay ©

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

 

Go to article: Can I fry with Oilve Oil?

 

Go to article: The perfect Crime Scene

 

Go to article: Spanish Cured Ham-What you need to know

 



Like 0        Published at 11:30   Comments (1)


Explosives and Olive Oil
19 November 2012

Researchers at the University of Córdoba have proven that ion mobility spectrometry, the analytical technique most commonly used to detect explosives and drugs at airports, is also effective for identifying fraudulent olive oil.

Olive oil falsely labelled as extra virgin is a major problem in the olive oil sector, with no one effective analytical method to identify and reveal fraud. Current analyses to determine if an olive oil is in fact extra virgin rely on sensory evaluation in conjunction with a number of analytical tests, with no test deemed completely effective for detection.

Current chemical tests, including determination of free acidity, peroxide value, wax content, fatty acid, sterol, and triglyceride composition, are often ineffective in detecting adulterated oils. These oils are typically mixed with lower grade olive oils, which have been chemically deodorized, making them difficult to identify.

The application of ion mobility spectrometry, used to identify explosives in both airports and military use, is currently being investigated for use in a wide variety of areas in the agriculture and food sectors. The technique is thought to have potential in determining the freshness of fish, distinguishing between white wines and providing more accurate determination of olive oil as extra virgin.

The technique has been proposed for use as a screening system when applied to the olive sector to allow quick, easy, and economical analysis of oil samples to determine their category. The process involves the heating of one gram of oil in a vial to 60 degrees Celsius and generating volatile compounds, which can then be separated by size, charge, and mass. These are analysed to produce a spectrum, which can be interpreted to determine if the oil is extra virgin or not.

With the whole process taking around fifteen minutes per sample, the new approach to identification is significantly faster than current methods, which can take around eight hours. This time saving, along with the lack of need for sample pre-treatment and the 90 per cent reliability of the technique, could make it an attractive option to help with the issue of fraud in the sector.

 source:
ABC.es
International Oilve Council


Like 0        Published at 18:48   Comments (2)


Olive Oil and the Mediterranean diet
18 November 2012

 

.
Recognized as one of the healthiest diets in the world, the Mediterranean diet is not a creation of some doctor or nutritionist, nor is it a passing fad, it’s a centuries-old eating lifestyle originally followed by the people living in the Mediterranean basin.

It all started when University of Minnesota Physiologist Ancel Keys studied the diets and habits of seven countries in the 1950s (often referred to as the Seven Countries Study), including the US, Japan, and Greece. He found that individuals from Greece had the lowest rates of heart disease and lived the longest even though they had a relatively high intake of fat. This astounding information was enough to take the Mediterranean diet from the tiny villages of Greece to the headlines of cities around the world.

It has ever since become a scientific standard paving the way for nutritionists, doctors and specialists to identify what’s good for us and what’s not. Thanks to an ever-growing body of evidence that the diet can prevent everything from heart disease to cancer, the Mediterranean diet is what sets the standard for long life and good health.

We all think of olive oil when we hear the term “Mediterranean Diet”, but in fact it is a lot of other things. It is characterised by a high intake of vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates with the main source of fat being olive oil. As a result, it is rich in fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. However, it is not a vegetarian diet, as red meat is something to be enjoyed once a month, with the main source of protein coming from beans and local fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies.

Reaping the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Spanish diet is all about using the right nutritional ingredients in the right way. In other words, just adding olive oil to all your dishes isn’t going to do the trick; you need to consume a variety of foods in order to see healthy results.

 

 

source: Olive Oil Times



Like 0        Published at 21:53   Comments (0)


Olive Oil and Climate Change
18 November 2012

Spanish olive oil output has doubled in the last ten years, but ongoing drought and climate change may mean a setback for the global leader in ‘liquid gold’ production.

Spain produces 46 percent of the world’s olive oil, a total that has increased from 28 percent in 2002. However, it is now being suggested that the countries production may fall to the same fate as fellow olive oil producing powerhouses Greece and Italy due to the effects of climate change. Italy has seen a drop of 50 percent in production since 2001 and Greece has also seen its annual production levels decline by half, with climate change thought to be an important factor.

The decline of production in Italy and Greece has had a temporarily positive effect on Spain, which is now producing twice the joint production of Greece and Italy, happily filling the gap in the market. Olive oil is of huge importance to the Spanish agriculture sector, and is one of the leading agricultural exports for the country. However, the current harvest in Spain will be a poor one, with a 40 percent drop in production due to drought, leading to a huge leap in market prices for olive oil

This decreased level of production may become common place if continued scarcity of water and increased temperatures start to effect groves in Spain, as they have elsewhere on an ongoing basis. While high temperatures are optimal for growth and development of olives, heavy rain is also necessary to complete the ripening process.

Water scarcity affects every continent and countries such as Greece and Italy have already suffered the devastating effects of drought, with olives dying at high temperatures and from lack of water. In addition to the direct effects of a changing climate on the olive population, variations in weather can also cause changes in other environmental factors such as insects and disease. These may then influence the olive tree population, an indirect effect of changing climates.

Spanish researchers have already suggested that a key area of Spanish Olive Oil production in Catalonia, the Siurana DOP, may become unviable within 20 years due to these increasing temperatures and water shortages. Spain is thought to be highly susceptible to climate change, with the Mediterranean Sea rising by eight centimeters in the last 50 years and an average increase in temperature of 0.028 degrees Celsius per year. Studies have shown that the flowering period of olives trees is highly dependent on the yearly spring temperatures, which are rising steadily over time.

If Spain is to continue its supremacy as an olive oil producing nation, new and innovative irrigation alternatives will have to be created to combat the constantly changing climate. This is no easy task however, as increasing irrigation can have negative effects on water supplies for the area, leading to desert-like areas and water shortages for other purposes, as has previously been seen in Greece, Italy and Portugal when irrigation demands increased.

source: Portal Olivicola

 



Like 0        Published at 21:24   Comments (0)


OLIVE OIL RECIPES - Mediterranean Tuna Salad
15 November 2012

Here is a lovely fresh salad bursting with flavour, very typical in Andalusia. This recipe serves 4 :

 

1 endive, finely chopped

· ½ kg green olives, stoned

· 1 small onion, chopped

· 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

· 1 tomato, chopped

· 1 tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped

· 1 hard-boiled egg

· 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Picual is ideal)

· 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

· 100 g tuna fish in olive oil, flaked

· Salt  

 

Arrange the endives in a salad dish, add the olives, onion, garlic, tomato and tarragon. Sprinkle with salt.

Pound the yolk of the hard-boiled egg in the mortar, then slowly add the oil and vinegar, stirring constantly with the pestle. Pour the dressing over the salad. Chop the egg white and scatter over the salad together with the flaked tuna fish.

Sprinkle with salt. Listo! Enjoy!

 



Like 0        Published at 18:20   Comments (0)


Which Olive Oil suits you best?
09 November 2012

Olive tree farming originated in the Middle East over 5,000 years ago and spread to the West throughout the Mediterranean basin. From the wild olive trees that grew spontaneously, the first farmers began to choose those that had the best characteristics depending on the areas, productivity, adaptation to the soils, yield, etc... The olive trees in the Iberian peninsula are now, therefore, really hardy trees that can withstand diverse climatic conditions.

Spain is a country with diverse and complex landscapes, as well as a great variety of rich soils. These geographic conditions, together with the numerous olive varieties used in making olive oils, mean that Spain can offer a wide range of aromas and flavours that are unrivalled by any other producing country. Oils with a very sweet and mild flavour can be found alongside others with great body and character, with a pleasant bitter or peppery flavour of varied intensities. Spanish extra virgin oils generally have an intense fruity aroma.

In Spain alone there are 260 olive tree varieties. These are a few of the most important ones :

 

PICUAL 

This is the most important variety in the world, representing 50% of Spain's olives and trees and, therefore, approximately 20% world-wide. Its geographic location is clearly linked to Andalusia, the main producing region in the world, and specifically to the provinces of Jaen, Cordoba and Granada. This variety is given different names depending on the producing area, but its main name, Picual (from the Spanish root "pico", meaning "peak"), comes from the shape of the fruit, as it is like a swollen teat ending in a point. 

The oil. 

From a physical-chemical point of view, it is excellent due to its fatty acid composition and the number of natural antioxidants it contains. Its high content of monounsaturated oleic acid, important to avoid cardiovascular diseases, and its low content of linoleic acid (an essential acid for the human diet, but if there are excessive quantities, the oil starts to oxidise and free radicals, which are harmful for certain organs in the human body, are formed) as well as its high content of polyphenols, make it the most stable oil in the world, with a long shelf life and it performs excellently when heated for cooking. From an organoleptic point of view, we have to differentiate between the plains and the mountains, as their organoleptic profiles are very different. Oils from the plains have great body, are normally bitter, with a certain flavour of wood. Oils from the mountains are usually sweeter, although they have a "fresh" and pleasant flavour. This oil is best used in frying, although it is equally good for salads and gazpachos.

 

CORNICABRA

This cultivar is the second in importance in the number of cultivated hectares, but the third in production. It originated in Mora de Toledo, and its cultivation area covers the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real in the Community of Castilla la Mancha. Its name ("one-horned goat") comes from the characteristic horn-shape of its fruit. 

The oil.

It is golden yellow with touches of light green indicating its fruitiness. When it is obtained from riper olives, at the end of the harvest, there are normally different flavours and textures that remind us of exotic fruit, like avocados. Cornicabra oils are fruity and have a noticeable balance between sweet at first, the bitterness of green leaves and a medium-intense peppery flavour. Their texture is smooth and velvety. They are stable oils because of their high content in monounsaturated fatty acids. The balanced composition of essential fatty acids, high content in oleic acid and minor components, which produce excellent aromas and flavours, make it especially appropriate for dietary purposes.The oils from this variety are perfect for warm salads, stewed vegetables, and for making sauces such as mayonnaise.

 

HOJIBLANCA

The name (from the Spanish for "hoja", leaf, and "blanca", white) comes from the colour of the leaf's back side, making the tree look bright, and, from a distance, silver. It is found in Andalusia, to be precise in the east of the province of Seville, the south of Cordoba and all of the north of the province of Malaga. It accounts for about 16% of the Andalusian olive groves. It is used both for black table olives, due to the firm texture of its flesh, and for oil production. 

The oil. 

From a physical-chemical point of view, it has a very balanced composition of fatty acids, with saturated acids that are relatively lower than in the rest of the oils of other varieties. Its composition is ideal for dietary purposes. As its stability is not very high and it oxidises easily, this oil should be kept out of the light and stored without excessive oxygenation. From an organoleptic point of view, it has an enormous range of flavours, but the most common are sweet at the beginning of the tasting, with a fresh grassy fruity aroma, a slightly bitter flavour of green fruit and other fruits that sometimes recall a fruit cocktail, slightly peppery in the throat and a final almondy aftertaste. Recommended for frying, this oil is also ideal for making bread, pasta and pastries, due to the perfect consistency it gives to dough. 

 

ARBEQUINA

This is one of the best known Spanish varieties. Although it has been planted in the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca in the community of Aragon, it originated in the locality of Arbeca (Lerida), where the name comes from, and it is widespread in the provinces of Tarragona and Lerida, in Catalonia. The tree is found in olive groves or mixed with other crops, mainly vines, and sometimes grows on the edges of plots. 

The oil.

These oils have an exquisite flavour with traces of tomatoes and vegetable gardens, and the aroma reminds us of fresh artichokes. They are also fruity with a certain exotic aroma. A fresh apple smell, accompanied by a certain mildness and sweetness, identifies the oils, with a final aftertaste of green almonds. They are also very fresh and young oils which, because of their composition, are a little more delicate than other varieties as far as oxidation is concerned, which is why they must be kept in the dark at a low temperature enabling you to keep them for a longer period of time, but they won’t last much more than a year. These oils have been appreciated for their quality for centuries, even though their production usually fluctuates greatly due to climatic conditions. Extra Virgin olive oils of the arbequina variety are dense and pour well and vary greatly from one area to another, as well as within the same area, in successive years. When harvesting is started, the olives are very green and this characteristic is reflected in the organoleptic properties of the oils. The olives are not normally left to become completely ripe. To describe the average characteristics of these oils, we could say that they are fruity, slightly green and more or less bitter, peppery and sweet. They are, therefore, very balanced oils, with greener flavours (leaf), bitter and peppery at the beginning of the harvesting season, and sweeter at the end. We should also mention the almondy (green almond) aroma and flavour and the way they pour smoothly, which is a very pleasant sensation when tasting them. This oil is best used uncooked, since its aromatic substances are very volatile. It is an oil that combines perfectly with vegetables, fresh or cooked, and grilled fish. 

 

EMPELTRE

The empeltre variety is characteristic of the community of Aragon, originating in the locality of Pedrola (in the province of Zaragoza). It is cultivated in an area that extends from the provinces of Logroño and Teruel through the Ebro Valley to the province of Tarragona, and can even be found on the Balearic Islands.

The oil.

The oils are a pale yellow colour in the majority of the cases, which is not due to harvesting when the olives are overripe. The oils have a mild fruity aroma and are very pleasant and very sweet tasting. They are never bitter or peppery and usually leave an aftertaste of almonds. As it is mild, it is ideal for blending. 

In general, virgin olive oils are not recommended for making mayonnaise because the flavour is too strong; however, the oils of this variety make a delicious mayonnaise. They are also ideal oils in sauces, marinades, vinaigrettes, or to add a special touch to boiled or steamed dishes.

 

PICUDO 

The olive is called picudo (which means "prominent peak") because of the shape of the fruit with a pointed and curved end and a noticeable teat. It has many other names, but the one it is given in Luque, a town in the south-east of Cordoba, where it is called "pajarero" (bird trapper) is curious because according to legend, the oil is so sweet, when it is ripe, the birds peck at the fruit. This variety is widespread in the provinces of Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and Jaen, with the most plantations in the area of the Designation of Origin Baena, in the south-east of Cordoba.

The oil.

As far as oxidation is concerned, the oils are included in the delicate range. Its organoleptic characteristics are very good, with unbeatable balance and sweetness, with no hard flavours and they pour very smoothly and are light, sometimes reminding us slightly of exotic fruits and apples. These olives are excellent as table olives, green and black. The oils they produce are ideal in warm salads, gazpachos, and pastries.

 

Other popular Olive Oil Articles by Ian Mackay ©

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

 

Go to World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

 

Go to article: Can I fry with Oilve Oil?

 

Go to article: The perfect Crime Scene

 



Like 0        Published at 01:42   Comments (13)


Can I fry with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
01 November 2012

 

Can we really fry with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?   Should we?   Is it not just a waste of money?   Should we be frying food full stop? 

 

These are questions I’m being asked all the time and as it is a very common subject, thought I might clear up the doubts surrounding it. Frying is one of the oldest forms of cooking common to all of the Mediterranean Basin: Europe, Asia and Africa. In short the homeland for the Olive Tree. As a method of cooking it is dominant in all cultures and religions scattered throughout the region.


Recent investigations have shown that frying is actually beneficial to the organism, particularly from the physiological point of view contrary to general opinion. “But fried food is fatty and can’t be digested properly and it gives me a heavy stomach” is an all too common remark. Whether the food that is fried is digested easily or weighs down your stomach depends to a great extent on the type of oil used, the temperature of the oil and the manner in which the food was fried. Yes even frying has its art form!


Studies undertaken on healthy subjects and patients with gastro-duodenal problems (gastritis, ulcer, liver and biliary complaints) have shown that there is no relationship between food fried in olive oil and these illnesses.


It all comes down to how edible oils deteriorate when heated. All oils will eventually suffer an alteration in their chemical structure when exposed to high temperatures. The alteration undergone by vegetable oils when heated for frying is far quicker, creating far more fatty acids particularly from seed oils and more so if the initial acidity of the oil was already high. It will always be more stable if it has a high content of natural antioxidants - vitamin E - polyphenols. This alteration also varies according to temperature and the length of time heated, number of times the oil is used and the manner of frying, if it is continuous frying it changes less and the type of food being fried is also a determining factor when using vegetable oils. Frying fish, especially oily fish, increases the polyunsaturated acid content of the oil, facilitating its rapid decomposition. So you better hope your local fish & chips shop changes their oil regularly if they use sunflower oil.

 

 

This is where the real benefits of extra virgin olive oil come to light. Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change at all and keeps its nutritional value far better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid (good fatty acids). It has a very high smoking point of 210ºC which is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food which any cook will tell you is around 180ºC. Those fats with lower critical points, such as corn and butter, break down at this temperature and form toxic products.


 

 

“My chips were all greasy and full of oil!” Well, they were probably fried with vegetable oil (as seen in the picture). Apart from it being healthier, one of the best reasons for using extra virgin olive oil for frying is that it forms a crust on the surface of the food that impedes the penetration of oil and improves its flavour. Food fried in extra virgin olive oil has a much lower fat content than food fried in other oils, making extra virgin far more suitable for weight control. Extra virgin olive oil, is the most suitable, the lightest and the tastiest medium for frying.

 


It is an oil that goes much further than other oils, and not only can it be re-used more often than others, it also increases in volume when reheated, so less is required for cooking and frying. This is one major fact to take on board when evaluating the cost. You won’t need to waste as much oil. Where as no one would advise you to re-heat sunflower oil, there is no problem in re-heating extra virgin olive oil even up to 3 or 4 times and in some cases more, although I doubt any one would actually do it! The higher the polyphenol content in the extra virgin the longer it will last and it is the polyphenols that protect the oil from the heat. Picual varieties tend to very high in polyphenols, so medium to robust extra virgin is ideal.


The digestibility of heated extra virgin olive oil does not change even when re-used for frying several times. The only thing that will be altered is that it will adopt the flavour, as will any oil, of what you previously fried in it. But if you use a certain amount just for chips/potatoes you can re-use it over and over in your deep fat fryer, something that is not advisable for vegetable oils and nonetheless everyone still does it. Extra Virgin Olive oil should not be mixed with other fats or vegetable oils and should not generally be used more than four or five times. The oil used for frying should always be hot; if it is cold the food will soak up the oil, no matter what oil it is. It needs to be hot to form a sealed crust. 


If you have never tried a fried egg in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I highly recommend it. Make sure you have a fair amount of olive oil in the pan, say 1cm in depth, heat the oil and pop in the egg, it will start to float in the oil and then with a spoon you ladle the hot oil over the top of the egg. The egg white will start to bubble a little and it will get a crispy edge to it. Once cooked to taste, remove and season. You will notice the difference straight away. It doesn’t taste greasy or fatty and is just divine! It is so simple and so much healthier. Spain is renowned for its fried eggs and there are world-famous restaurants in Madrid that are famous for one one simple dish - their fried eggs. Give it a go!

 


 


Other popular articles by Ian Mackay ©

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

 

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

 

Go to article: The perfect Crime Scene

 

Go to article: Spanish Cured Ham-What you need to know

 



Like 1        Published at 21:29   Comments (31)


Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x