Extra fresh, extra virgin

How is it that you can take a truck full of purple olives to be pressed, and return with a container of green oil?  One of life’s wonderful mysteries.  And who ever imagined squashing the bitter, nasty fruit of the olive tree would produce anything so fabulous; delicious, health-giving and versatile.  Even more, that you could take the same fruit, drop it in caustic soda for a while, then soak in fresh water for a couple of weeks, salt it and store it for a month and – wow, a tasty olive.  If you’ve never tasted an olive fresh from the tree you may not appreciate the miracle metamorphis that takes place to achieve the olive on your table.  Trust me, if you’ve never tasted a fresh, uncured olive, you don’t want to.

Many years ago olive oil was used as lamp oil, and it is said that the olive oil industry was as important as the petrochemical industry is today.  Hard to imagine, but there are many example of old wealth here in Puglia that indicate a successful industry.  Sadly for the locals, most of the wealth was controlled by landowners who lived Up North, or the church.  Today the focus is on producing the freshest, most virgin (least acidic) oil, to be enjoyed as a culinary delight.  Happily many of the olive producting masserie are now locally owned by people passionate about the area and their oil.

Research shows that extra virgin olive oil is the most digestible of the edible fats.  Olive oil also helps the body to assimilate vitamins A, D and K.  Benefits of consuming olive oil include slowing down the aging process and helping liver, bile, and intestinal functions.  It is, of course, comprised of mono-saturates which are the healthy fats.  Cold pressed olive oil is a pressing process requiring no heat or chemicals, which destroy vital nutrients.

But none of this is that important when you collect your fresh oil from the press.  It is the wonder of how and why, and the utterly delicious taste.

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