Extra virgin olive oil is one of the main ingredients of the Mediterranean diet: it is produced by pressing olives that are the fruits of the olive tree (Olea europaea).
It contains important elements (polyphenols and vitamins) and is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) that can positively affect the various metabolic processes of the body.
It has been shown that a balanced use of extra virgin olive oil protects the heart and arteries, lowers blood cholesterol, slows the aging of brain cells and exerts a power of prevention for atherosclerosis.
Quality is the most important aspect of olive oil.
To obtain a high quality extra virgin olive oil we must analyze all the factors in its production. Determinants for the quality are in fact the place of production, the climatic conditions, the variety and maturity of the olives used for the pressing and finally the manufacturing processes implemented to attain the finished products.
The acidity level (0,80% for extra virgin oil) is a key indicator of the quality of the oil. It indicates the percentage of oleic acid present in the product.
Olive oil is originated from rich and noble fruits. This is an important concept: olive oil is practically a juice.
The extra virgin olive oil is used both to flavor foods, preferably raw, and for the preparation of various types of dish including cakes, in partial or total substitution of butter. It is perfect for frying because of its high punto di fumo.
For oil-food matching:
With delicate tasting dishes, both raw and cooked, it is best to use a mild oil, not to overpower the flavors. This may be obtained from a single cultivar.
With savory dishes it is good to use an oil pressed from olives of different varieties, a product that still has a good body, aroma and intensely fruity taste, even a spicy note.
A good and accurate storage of oil is critical to preserve all its qualities. For this reason it is advisable to store oil in dark glass bottles in a dark room.