Olive oil is often referred to as the Nectar Of The Mediterranean, as it is a staple part of the diet of this region and is widely gaining popularity across the world.
Olive Oil is packed with vitamins E and K and also has a high content of monounsaturated fats (these are said to improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be particularly helpful if you have Type 2 diabetes) and antioxidants.
Olive Oil can be found in the forms of Extra Virgin, Virgin Fine, Virgin Semi-Fine, Refined and Pure.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is said to have the finest taste and texture. It does lose a lot of the taste when heated and so is best used in cold dishes as a dressing, dipping sauce, drizzling over food or as part of a marinade.
Virgin Fine and Semi- Fine are shave slightly less taste and texture but are still as good but are slightly cheaper and so are often used more in cooking.
Refined is the lower grade oil, which has been processed as the raw oil has an unpleasant smell and taste and so has to be processed to remove these, the end result being that you have a good coloured oil but with no distinctive smell or taste. This type of olive oil is the cheapest mass produced variety.
Pure is the refined oil with extra virgin oil added to it to improve the taste and texture. Because it is cheaper than Virgin or Extra Virgin it is a more versatile oil and can be used when pan-frying, stir-frying, and deep-frying. But it can also be used in cold dishes where a milder olive oil taste is preferred.
This is one of my favourite books on olive oil, with loads of facts on the history of olives and olive oil and some lovely recipes. Having visited Crete on several occasions I feel like I am back there while I read this book, which is much more than a cooker book.
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