The Miracle of Olive Oil

Posted by Alayne Gardner-Carimi on

According to the historical records, olive oil was one of the earliest vegetable oils prepared from seeds or fruits. There is evidence as early as 6000 BCE in Galilee, Israel! The original “purified” olive oil was from hand-crushed olives, which were placed in a basket and the oil that drained from these olives was collected (the original cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil).

This method of extracting olive oil resulted in an extremely pure product. In ancient Jewish tradition this pure oil, with all its natural components, was the only oil acceptable for use the temples’ menorahs to be burned and provide illumination. For a complete list of Kosher products click here. Continuing ancient customs, oil from the second pressing was used for healing and cooking, and the third for making soap. Olive oil has been used for both trading and domestic consumption continuously from ancient times to the present day.  

Like grapes and wine, the flavors of olives and olive oil depend on the type of olive, the conditions in which they were grown, and when/how they are picked and pressed. In fact, there are now olive oil tasting trainings (like sommeliers for wine) around the world. How the oil is treated after it is pressed also affects its quality and flavor. We invite you to come in, discover the quality and savor the differences in our traditional extra virgin olive oils. We have the latest crop of traditional extra virgin olive oil from our producers in Italy (including the unfiltered San Domenico!), Spain, and Greece (where some of the trees are 2000 years old).  We also have delicious lightly filtered, infused extra virgin olive oils to choose from to add that special nuance to your culinary creations.

The Miracle Continues

Today, we know olive oil is part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. We may use a bit more equipment than hands and straw baskets to make enough olive oil for the world to share, but the best olive oil continues to be the first cold-pressing of hand-picked fresh olives. VomFASS Madison is proud to partner with small olive producers throughout the world to bring some of the best extra virgin olive oils to you. Not only does vomFASS select the producers, we even go as far as to select the harvest of specific olive trees to go into our products. This olive oil is packed at the point of production and sent directly to vomFASS in our proprietary packaging. These oils do not see light or have oxygen exposure until we dispense them for you at the store level. This maintains the freshness, protects the product from oxidation, and allows you to experience all the flavors and benefits of freshly pressed olive oil.

Making Modern Olive Oil

Making olive oil involves seven main steps...

Olives are picked by hand or machine during the harvesting season, which occurs once a year in the fall.
The olives are separated from leaves and branches, and then crushed into pulp by machines and milled into a thick paste.
Water is added to the paste made of olives and pits to thin out the consistency of the mixture. The mixture is then churned slowly to help the olive oil droplets separate from the rest of the mixture.
The olive oil is separated from the water and the pulp by either pressing it mechanically or spinning it in a centrifuge.
Some olive oils undergo a filtering step to remove some of the organic materials from the oils. This allows the olive oil to tolerate higher heats without smoking, but it also removes some of the flavor components of the oil.
This is only done to lower-quality olive oils; higher-quality olive oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, are not refined before consumer use. In these lesser products, refining uses heat, chemicals, and other processes to increase the yield, and to change the taste, color and other characteristics of the oil. In ancient times, this would be the third pressing, suitable only for the making of soaps.
With large commercial processors, the olive oil is stored in stainless steel containers, and then bottled or canned, packaged and shipped. These bottles and cans have “head-space” (air) at the top which can begin to interact with the product from the time it is bottled until it is consumed. This air contains oxygen which can decrease the shelf life of the oil by oxidizing the oil and creating off-flavors like rancidity.

Traditional and Infused

Traditional vomFASS Extra Virgin Olive Oils may be unfiltered or lightly filtered. Heat can diminish the flavors of unfiltered extra virgin olive oils. Because of the inherent olive components, unfiltered oils have a low smoke point (they burn easily) and therefore are best used as oils for greens or as finishing oils for pastas or bread. Lightly filtered olive oils can handle a light sauté. Our infused extra virgin olive oils can pull extra duty, adding flavor to marinades as well as cold and sautéed foods. 

Frying High

For your high heat cooking, filtered oils are best. We have an array of high-heat stable filtered sunflower, grapeseed oil and rapeseed oils. These oils have a heart-healthy fatty acid profiles, clean flavors, and a high smoke point. Our Sun Meadow Rapeseed oil, with its innate rich flavor, has been described as “vegan butter.” The vomFASS Garlic Herb Sunflower oil is a go-to adding a touch of flavor when sautéing as well as roasting just about anything this holiday season and beyond!

Olive Oil Doughnut Cookie Delights

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom Cream

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