Wine Country Olives, Fig and Lemon Vinaigrette This is fantastic on baby arugula tossed with dried cranberries, walnuts and feta . Dressing will last, refrigerated, up to one week. Servings: Makes 2 1/4 cups ingredients 2 cloves garlic 3/4 cup Wine Country Olives Fig Balsamic Vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard...
About Olive Oil
Order Online at the #1 Source for Gourmet California Olive Oil
Wine Country Olives California Olive Oils are hand-bottled in California. Available in Extra Virgin, organic, infused and flavored varieties, Wine Country Olives offers the most complete line of oils on the web. When searching for gourmet food online, look no further than wineolives.com.
Olive Oil History
Some of the first European settlers in California were the Spanish missionary priests who brought ‘Mission’ olive variety via Baja California, Mexico. Around 1870, several small orchards with many different European varieties were planted for oil all along the California coast from San Diego up to Sonoma, and in various foothill areas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first commercially produced olive oil in California came from the Camulos oil mill in Ventura, established in 1871. By 1885, California olive growers were producing oil from ≈2000 acres (809 ha) and several mills, but found they could not compete well against seed oils and olive oil imports from Europe. Today California Olive Oils are lighter in color and mild and buttery in flavor.
Olive Oil is produced from the fruit of the olive tree, one of the oldest tree species in the world. The cultivation of olive trees began thousands of years ago in the Mediterranean by the Minoans on the Greek island of Crete. Stone mortars and presses used in Olive Oil extraction have been discovered that date back nearly 5,000 years. Cultivation processes were handed down from generation to generation, with each culture and region having its own variation on Olive Oil production.
Olive Oil Production
Olives are harvested in the autumn and winter. Olive trees are traditionally shaken to bring down their olives but may also hand-picked. Great care is taken when obtaining the olives so as to not bruise or damage them, as this may trigger oxidation which can compromise the olive's flavor. Olives are then transported to a processing plant where they are sorted and any leaves or stems are removed and the olives are cleaned. The olives are then crushed and grinded into a paste by a stainless steel or stone roller. At this stage in the extraction process, the olive paste undergoes the malaxation process in which a small amount of water is added to the paste and then mixed for 20 to 40 minutes. This allows the oil to concentrate and gain flavor. The olive paste is then pressed further often with centrifugal force which separates the solid remnants of the paste, called pomace, with the oil and water.
Many different factors that occur during the production process influence the color, flavor and aroma of Olive Oil. These factors include the olive variety used in production, the location where the olives were grown, olive ripeness, timing and olive harvest method, production techniques and storage methods. Olive Oils are graded based on their flavor, method of production and level of acidity.
Olive Oil Grading
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The highest quality grade of Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced from the first pressing of the olives, uses no heat during the production process, and has acidity below .8%.
Virgin Olive Oil: Virgin Olive Oil is lower quality than Extra Virgin Olive Oil and must have an acidity less than 1.5%. There is almost no production of this grade of Olive Oil as the market demand for Extra Virgin is much higher.
Refined Olive Oil: Refined Olive Oil is obtained by refining Olive Oil that cannot qualify for higher grades. In order to become refined, these Olive Oils undergo processing such as heating, chemical refinement or filtration. With a required acidity under .3%, Refined Olive Oil has a long shelf life.
Pure Olive Oil: Pure Olive Oil is a blend of Refined Olive Oil and either Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil. Pure Olive Oils often contain about 85% Refined Olive Oil and 15% Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Pure Olive Oil has a high smoke point as it excellent when used for cooking. Some people prefer its lighter taste and it is now marketed in the US as "Light Olive Oil" as a less robust salad dressing ingredient.
Pomace Olive Oil: Pomace Olive Oil is the lowest grade of Olive Oil. This oil is produced by extracting oil from the pulp and pits that are left over from the first pressings of the olives. To produce Pomace Olive Oil, the crushed pulp and pits are treated with solvent and may undergo additional filtering and refinement.
Cooking With Olive Oil
A fine Olive Oil adds flavor, depth and texture to just about any food. Although Extra Virgin and Virgin Olive Oils withstand heat well, they are best when used uncooked or cooked at low to medium temperatures to retain the character and flavor of the oil. Pure Olive Oil may be used in sautéing, frying, grilling, stir-frying and deep-frying. Olive Oil also tempers the acidity in highly acid foods such as tomatoes, vinegar and wine. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is superb when added as an ingredient in vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, dips, or drizzled over meat, vegetables, pasta or bread. Light and mild Pure Olive Oil is excellent for baking for use in place of butter to add exquisite flavor without all of butter's saturated fat and cholesterol.