The olive tree is a native to the Mediterranean region. It has spread across the world over time. But still all the major commercial producers of Olive Oil are the Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain in Europe, Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in Asia as well as Tunisia and Algeria in Africa.
Olive trees grow in the light soil and reasonably warm weather. Rich soil as well as very cold weather is not suitable for it. Once grown, the trees last for centuries and remain productive too. So, the farmers should just take care of grown up trees and prune them correctly to keep reaping harvests for decades. The fruits are harvested around the autumn or winter in most cases.
As discussed earlier, olive trees are native to the Mediterranean region and evidences suggesting that it was consumed even by prehistoric people. Archaeological evidences suggest domestication of the species in the Asia Minor and the earliest known containers of Olive Oil in Greece date back to 3500 BC. So, the ancient civilizations of the region learnt its benefits and usage quite early.
Olive oil is extracted by crushing the olive fruits. The oil components of the fruits are stored in the mesocarp cells within lipo vacuoles. The fruits are first washed well and then crushed using various olive press machines to separate oil from the rest of the pulp.
Commonly known Benefits
Olive oil is known for various health benefits and hence experts suggest it as a cooking medium and are rated ahead of other refined vegetable oils.
It is known to have mono saturated fatty acids which are known to protect the heart from coronary diseases. Also, in the diet the other types of oils that it replaces are higher in Omega-6 while it doesn't affect the ones with Omega-3 fatty acids. This basically means that Olive oil ensures a more balance diet in terms of Omega Acids of various types.
Olive oil consumption also helps in cholesterol regulation which provides health benefits as cholesterol oxidation has anti-inflammatory, anti hypertensive as well as anti thrombotic effects. Also it contains several useful antioxidants which are not easily available in other oils. Also, new researches have shown that certain properties of Olive Oil can control malignant tumors in the breast, prostate and the digestive tract.
Considering all these benefits, Olive Oil has found universal acceptance nowadays as a healthy cooking medium
Physico Chemical Properties:
Specification Limit Botanical Name Olea europaea Family Name Oleaceae Common Name Olive Part used Pulp Specific Gravity 0.915-0.9180 @ 20 °C Refractive Index 1.4677–1.4705@ 20 °C Blends With Vinegar, sour juices, cheese Uses It is used as a cooking medium and various types of this oil are used to cook a large variety of food items across the world. It is also used in the cosmetics industry, especially for skin care products. It has mild laxative as well as demulcent properties and is considered good for intestinal contractions