Extra virgin olive oil is a high quality and expensive olive oil. It has the essence of fresh olives without any adulteration. In chemical terms, an extra virgin olive oil has the free acid as oleic acid with no more than 0.8 grams per 100gms and the value of peroxide is less than 20 mill equivalent. The oil is produced by mechanical means without the use of solvents, under temperature conditions (30oC, less than 86oF) that will not derogate the oil.
In order to qualify as extra virgin olive oil, it should pass the official chemical test in the lab and sensory evaluation by the trained testing panel of the International Olive Council. Extra Virgin olive oil which exhibits some fruitiness and is free of adulteration can pass the test easily. Extra virgin olive oil is a pressed fruit juice with no additives. This method of extracting the extra virgin olive oil is known as “cold pressing”. The oil is considered the finest, having the fruitiest, freshest flavor. It retains antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins without the use of heat.
Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Gastronomy:
The oleocanthal a component of extra virgin olive oil increases the production of enzymes and proteins that knocks out amyloidal tangles, which characterizes Alzheimer disease. This component is a COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor that functions as a pain and inflammation reducer.
The extra virgin olive oil can be used cold or hot in salad dressings or recipes. It can be used for pouring and dipping. It has the no Tran’s fat, no artificial colors or flavors and is naturally gluten free. It is added at the table to stews and soups. It is one of the three foods permitted by the FDA for containing health claim benefits. It can also be drizzled over bruschetta, bread and meats, pastas to improve health and have radiant skin. The extra virgin olive oil can be used instead of butter in the frying pan to prepare grilled cheese sandwiches, eggs and quesadillas. The vegetables can be steamed and tossed with extra virgin olive oil.
The greater use of extra virgin olive oil reduces heart unhealthy fats. The oil is high in poly phenol concentration which provides direct health benefits. Grains and vegetables taste better with extra virgin olive oil. The extra virgin olive oil should be cooked at moderate temperatures so that it does not lose its properties. It does not produce any toxic reactions when roasted, fried or cooked. It improves the gastronomic quality of food. When fried, the extra virgin olive oil forms a thin consistent layer around the product. This layer of oil hampers the absorption of fats or unnecessary oil by retaining all food juices and favors. Extra virgin olive oil can be dressed on the salad with salt, lemon juice or vinegar. The oil should be added last so that it prevents other elements from penetrating in to the salad.
Extra virgin olive oil can also be used for beauty purpose. For dry scalp relief it is conditioned on the scalp and left for 20 minutes. It can also be used as a face moisturizer and makeup remover.