Interesting facts about olive oil - Everything there is to know about olive oil.


Olive oil is also known as tree oil. It is a vegetable oil obtained from the pulp or the pits of the olives. The extraction of the oil goes back as far as 8000 years. The Latin name is Oleum olivarum. Olive oil can be used in many different ways, both in the kitchen and for health. There are many interesting things to discover about olive oil in this little guide.

The main growing areas of olive oil

Olive trees grow predominantly in the Mediterranean region. Production from certain landscapes is limited due to the demands of olive trees on cultural preconditions, climate and soil.

The following growing areas are known in the Mediterranean:

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Tunisia
  • Greece
  • Croatia
  • Turkey

Olive Oils by State and Region

  • Italy
    There are about 300 varieties here. The best known are: Taggiasca, Coratina and Ogliarola. Liguria is the main growing area. There are also quite a few in Tuscany Regions of olive cultivation.
  • Spain
    There are officially 23 recognized growing areas. The most important growing area is Andalusia. 90% of the income comes from here. The main olive varieties are:
    • Picual (variable in taste and robust)
    • Arbequina (best-known variety, fruity, mild, slightly sweet taste)
    • Blanqueta (very mild and yet intense in taste)
    • Cornicabra (sweet to hot)
    • Hojiblanca (dark and spicy)
    • Lechin de Seville (spicy
    • Verdial or Morisca (especially juicy and sweet).
  • Portugal
    Seven regions with a seal of origin and quality. The most important growing area is in the Alentejo. The best varieties are: Galega, Cordovil and Carrasquenha.
  • Greece
    Important growing areas are: on the Peloponnese, on Crete, Lesbos and some other islands. The most important varieties include Adramytiani, Doppia, Kalamata, Kolovi, Koroneiki, Karydolia, Manaki, Psiloelia, Prassinolia and Tsounati. The most famous varieties are: Amphissa, Atalanta, Kalamaties, Nafplion.

What properties do olive oils have?

The color spectrum ranges from green-brownish to light yellow. The color depends on the substances contained in the olives and their state of ripeness. On our supermarket shelves you will mostly find green and black olives. The color has no influence on the quality. This is how an unfiltered oil can look cloudy. Natively produced olive oil is a purely natural product.

Olive oil consists of:

  • 77% monounsaturated fatty acids
  • 9% polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • 14% saturated fat

Unfortunately, the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids (P/S ratio) is well below the recommended value of 1,0.

How healthy is olive oil?

The composition of monounsaturated fatty acids and secondary plant compounds is unique. You can thus prevent numerous diseases. Olive oil is not only good for nutrition, but also for health. It's not called "functional food" for nothing.

What are the health properties of olive oil?

  • ensures beautiful hair and skin
  • protects against cardiovascular diseases
  • reduces cell aging and prevents diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
  • reduces the risk of breast cancer and thrombosis
  • has an anti-inflammatory effect
  • supports the digestive system
  • helps with weight loss
  • reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • lowers LDL cholesterol levels
  • Prevents heartburn by suppressing excessive acid formation in the stomach.

The composition of olive oil

Like all vegetable oils, olive oils consist mainly of triglycerides (fatty acids bound to glycerol).

Further components are:

  • 55-83% oleic acid
  • 7-20% palmitic acid
  • 0-5% stearic acid
  • 3-21% linoleic acid
  • 0-4% palmitoleic acid
  • Phospholipids, carotenoids, α-tocopherol and about 300 IU of provitamin A.[
  • The oleocanthal and oleoropein contained in the natural olive oil. These are two antioxidants that have a positive health effect.

A variety of substances in olive oil determine the aroma.

  • Aldehyde
  • Alcohols
  • terpenes
  • Ester

The production of olive oil

An important factor in the production is the timing of the olive harvest. The harvest time for the olives is in autumn, just before they are fully ripe.

First the olives are washed, removing stones, dirt, twigs and leaves. The olives are then ground along with the pits because this breaks down the cells in the pit and pulp. This is the only way the olive oil can leak out. The mass resulting from the grinding is mixed together for about 1 hour. This process creates larger oil droplets. This olive mass is then centrifuged or pressed, thus extracting the oil.

The important aspect When producing olive oil, please note: The freshly harvested olives must be processed quickly. Otherwise the quality of the oil will be lost.

Factors that can affect quality

  • The proportion of fruit infested with pests and rotted.
  • Duration and type of storage of the olives after harvest.
  • olive variety
  • The cleanliness of foreign bodies such as bits of branch, leaves and sawdust.
  • The condition of the olives such as ripeness and water supply during growth.
  • Oxygen exposure during processing.
  • The purity of the plants during processing.
  • Further processing after pressing.
Olives are cleaned
Olives are cleaned

What does cold pressed mean?

The term cold pressed means that the oil must not be processed above 27 °C. Temperatures above this do not mean cold pressed and do not belong on the label.

What is meant by native/extra?

Virgin/extra and virgin olive oil is produced exclusively by mechanical processes without the addition of heat. One and only Difference is the acidity of the oil.

  • a maximum of 0,8 percent for extra virgin olive oil
  • for virgin olive oil, a maximum of 2 percent

The fresher the olive oil, the lower the oleic acid content.

How do you recognize "good" olive oil?

1. Check the olive oil label

The terms “extra virgin olive oil” or “first cold pressing” are of no particular importance today. More important is the name of the producer. This information can usually be found on the back of the bottle.

The following wording can be found:

  • On Italienisch
    "prodotto e confezionato da", that means in German “manufactured and packaged by/manufactured and bottled by”. The word "da" is important here, because otherwise the sentence means that that "The product was only bottled, the producer remains unclear".
  • On Spanish
    "Produce and envasado por"
  • In France
    Here the producer is usually directly on the label.

The name of the bottler says nothing about the country of origin of the olives. Caution, if neither the name of the producer nor the place of bottling is given, but Italian fantasy names like "Villa Tuscany" or "Nonna Cecilia". This could mean that oils from several countries or regions were mixed together. Many of the good oil producers give the name of the olive because it gives information about the taste. Monocultivar means in good German: "pure variety" (from a single olive variety). One cuvée means, as with wine, pressed from several varieties.

An indication of the freshness of olive oil is the best before date. The information on the harvest year or, even better, on the harvest month would be more meaningful. Unfortunately, this information is usually missing on the bottles. Furthermore give "The seal of the European Union "organically produced" or the "Protected Geographical Indication" (Italian DOP, Denominazione d'origine protetta) or IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica)" Notes on freshness.

2. Taste the olive oil

The taste of a "good" olive oil does not only depend on the area, but also on the degree of ripeness of the olives and the type of olive.

Olive oil and its use in cooking

Olive oil can be used for baking, roasting, cooking and grilling. It contains no cholesterol but lots of healthy unsaturated fatty acids.

Can olive oil be used for frying and roasting?

Yes, because even the German Nutrition Society recommends it. V.. However, attention must be paid to the specified boiling point. Therefore it is important to refined olive oil to grab. Depending on the type, olive oils can be heated up to 230 °C. Tip: If the olive oil starts to smoke in the pan, it has become too hot.

Which oil is suitable for what?

  • Baking
    suitable for desserts such as pancakes, batter for muffins or marble cake
    Use: mild (partially) refined oils.
    Advantage: The baking properties do not change and the health effects are effective.
  • Mediterranean cuisine dishes
    Use of an intense oil with a slightly bitter to pungent taste
  • salad dressing
    Use of cold-pressed native oils. These are also suitable for marinating cold dishes and vegetables.
  • Go to the Grilling and for barbecue marinades
    Using oils with a high smoke point to withstand the high temperatures of grilling (oils high in monounsaturated fats are good for this).

Olive oil is predominantly used in the Mediterranean diet in conjunction with healthy foods such as fish, vegetables, grains and nuts.

How is olive oil stored correctly?

  • Store cool and dark, but not too cold.
    It is sensitive to UV light and oxygen, which is why it goes rancid quickly.
  • Olive oil should not be stored in the refrigerator or frozen, otherwise it will lose its aroma.

Last updated: 26.01.2022

Images courtesy of Photo by ulleo on Pixabay, Photo by nataliaaggiato on Pixabay, isaac74 - and vkara -

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