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It is a frequently used fat in Mediterranean cuisine. Its organoleptic characteristics vary with the country and agronomic practices, the variety (or cultivar), and the stage of maturity at harvest.
Olive oil can be used so raw (in sauces for salad or in place of butter in the pasta for example) as cooked (for cooking meat or vegetables or frying). It is important nevertheless not to use it in too high-temperature (over 210 ° C) beyond which it deteriorates, but it is more that the average temperature of frying, in 180 °C.
It has properties beneficial to health, particularly on the cardiovascular plan, thanks to its vitamin A, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. Benefactions bound to vitamins are especially observed during consumption of cold oil, as in salads, because vitamins are destroyed beyond 40 ° C. Compared to the other unsaturated fatty acids, the olive oil is rather stable in the cooking and keeps in this case its beneficial effects on the cholesterol. It is the basic fat of the Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet or).
Olive oil has been known since the highest antiquity : the antique Greeks and Romans used it for their cooking and their cosmetics, as well as the Hebrews in the days when the Temple existed, to turn their candlestick.
Today is a currently consumer product, but amateurs will choose bottles which the price competes sometimes with great wines. Indeed, several olive oils are classified as Controled Designation of Origin (AOC).
The organoleptic characteristics are grouped into three main sections :
- Taste : the bitterness is the only one that the olive oil can present, we determine the intensity at the tasting.
- Aroma : all the aromatic sensations of an oil constitutes fruity sound, we determine the intensity at the tasting, its category (ripe fruit, fruity green, fruity black) and its analogical description (call back the apple, the tomato ...).
- Kinesthetic and tactile sensations : an olive oil may present a specific sensation, the ardence (or pricking), and differences of creaminess. It determines the intensity of pricking to the tasting, the unctuousness can be the object of comments, but there doesn't exist organoleptic scale for this sensation.
None of the above sensations is considered a defect. Defects recognized by professionals are :
The rancid (oxidation), musty, the unemployed (excessive fermentation of the olives in heap), the lees (fermentation of pulp particles in unfiltered oils with or without sedimentation). These defects have as common in their origins an insufficient attention worn in the quality of the works, and in their consequences in a disappearance of the bitter and pungent attributes.
Olive oil is composed of about 99% fat. The remaining 1% composes the minor compounds, it is basically (in order of importance): squalene, triterpenic alcohols, sterols, phenols, and derivatives of tocopherol.
The fat of olive oil composed of triglycerides. These are constituted by fatty acids of different sorts, whose distribution is characteristic of the olive oil, and in a further level of detail more pushed, the different varieties or place of production. When triglycerides are degraded the fatty acids which constituted them are removed and roam freely in the oil : They are then said "free fatty acids." Their percentage in the oil is what we call "acidity" of the oil, and is expressed in "grams of free oleic acid per 100 grams of oil." This acidity never perceives itself in the form of acid taste, but in the form of such or such degradation, such as a musty taste for example.
Saturated fatty acids : 14.8 to 15.6%
Monounsaturated fatty acids : 76.6 to 79.1%
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 8.6 to 10.8% (whose linoleic acid : 7.9 to 10.1% and linolenic acid : 0.65 to 0.70%)