Gourmet Olive Oils Make Their Way To More Dinner Tables

Many food items seem to have a “humble beginning” stage, but that simply doesn’t appear to have ever been the case with olive oil. Its mystical glow has illuminated history from ancient Greece when athletes rubbed it on their bodies, Homer called it liquid gold and drops of it have been found on the bones of dead martyrs and saints. To the people of the Mediterranean olive oil has long been a source of fascination from its medicinal and alleged magical properties.

The olive tree has long been known as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace and its branches have been used to crown the victors in both bloody wars and friendly games. Olive branches and olive crowns are emblems of purification and benediction and were offered in rituals to heads of state and deities.

It’s no wonder that in today’s kitchens, gourmet olive oils grace so many shelves and are used to flavor meals whether being drizzled on salads to grilled meats and fish to being the perfect dipping accompaniment to fresh, crusty bread. Add to that, that there is no healthier oil on the market and you’ll see why gourmet olive oils are growing in popularity. One of the beauties of a gourmet olive oil is that even an inexperienced cook can splash on some of this “liquid gold” and transform a meal, all while promoting a healthy diet.

The abundance of gourmet olive oils, which come in myriad flavors and from multiple sources, means you can use different oils in different combinations with your meal planning and keep your palate satisfied. The Mediterranean remains one of the greatest sources of gourmet olive oils while Spain is known for being the largest producer. Italy, however, has been recognized as being the most well-known for its oils. After Spain and Italy, Greece is the third largest producer of olives and olive oil products.

To prepare a top palate-pleasing gourmet olive oil, the olives must be harvested at the peak time. To make the highest quality extra virgin olive oil, the olives are harvested early when they are still green; the production of the oil is smaller in the earlier harvests than in later harvests when the oils are fully ripened. They begin to oxidize and rapidly grow highly acidic within 24 hours of being harvested. The most highly prized gourmet oil comes from the first cold pressing as this oil is the most flavorful and fragrant.

The purest of extra virgin olive oils can be considered gourmet regardless of whether they have flavors included. Bear in mind though that not all extra virgin olive oils are the same. Like wines, extra virgin olive oils can vary dramatically in taste, depending upon the producer of the oil, the type and quality of the fruit that is pressed, the time of harvest, the weather during the growing season, and the region (nature of the soil) from which the olives were produced. A gourmet olive oil can be full-bodied, full-flavored and even fruity. With an extra virgin oil, you only need to use a few drops to draw out the flavor of grilled meats, salad and even pizza.

Because gourmet olive oils are known for promoting well-being, they can be used without fear of health issues as the monounsaturated fats in olive oil actually support heart health. Gourmet olive oils have also been found to help in weight loss because the monounsaturated fats help the body break down stored fat cells.

If you’ve always wondered how to incorporate gourmet olive oil into your lifestyle, start out by using the few drop method on your foods or even using it for bread dipping. Gourmet olive oil can also be used in place of butter or margarine on your morning toast; many people have likened the taste of extra virgin olive oil to having a buttery flavor. O&CO. not only offers a complete line of oils, ranging in flavors from creamy & buttery to grassy & peppery, but suggestions on how to incorporate them into your daily cooking routine.