Olive & Oil 05/11/2012

All olive oil grades are "simply" the best for deep frying and more

The olive oil currently available is not enough for a "global" consumption
but the production is also on increase in new Countries. If the knowledge
about it increases, should increase the world consumption too. An analysis of Massimo Occhinegro

Olive oil consumption in the world corresponds more or less to only 4% of total fats consumption. It means that 96% left , is referred to a consumption of all other seed oils and animal fats.

The reason why the world consumption percentage of olive oil is almost the same, is due to the less availability of olive cultivation in the world compared to others.

The climatic conditions, together with the lack of knowledge about olive oil in general, avoid the olive oil expansion as hoped.
The other crucial factor is the higher production cost and consequently the higher price of olive oil in the market. It is also due to fragmentation of lands in some areas.

In the last years, due to the world popularity of the healthy benefits of olive oil, other Countries planted new olive trees in their territories where the climatic conditions could be suitable for cultivation.

This is good for all consumers and it is an hope for a further expansion of olive oil in the world but it means also competition among the sector’s actors.

The same happened for grape and consequently for wine, in the past.
But the global needs for olive oil should be completely different due to the huge consumption of seed oils and fats due to a daily utilize.

There are three “popular” olive oil grades:
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2. Olive Oil
3. Olive Pomace oil.

Every grade could be used for different purposes and to every grade corresponds a different selling price.
Just for completing the list, there is another important olive oil grade which is not so popular currently, which is called “virgin olive oil”. But a lot of money were spent and continue to be spent , wrongly, for advertising only one grade : “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. It was a wrong strategy due to the total absence, in the sector , of a good marketing.

What is important to know and to point out is that all olive oil grades have healthy benefits depending on their high percentage of MUFA (MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acids) compared to all other fats and, as concerns Extra Virgin olive Oil, for the additional presence of polyphenols compounds, as recently recognized by E.F.S.A. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
As price concern, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest. Olive oil in the middle and olive pomace oil, the cheapest.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is the best could be used mainly for western cuisine , for dressing.
Depending on the food to be prepared, we could select the most suitable one. It could be also tried to be used for “fusion” recipes.
There are thousands of Extra Virgin Olive Oil available in the market and we should select the one which we think is the best for us. The same happens for wine where all are red wines or white wines and there are a lot of different prices which create confusion in the consumer.
Finally the purchase selection is made by each consumer.

Let me add, it is important to know that If an Extra Virgin Olive oil is bitter or pungent, it is indicative of a good quality, because the olives were picked at an earlier crop stage. But the final purchase decision, also by taste side, belongs to the consumer.

Coming back to the different uses , Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be employed also for a deep frying even if we might think that polyphenols compounds could “affect” the flavor of the food to be cooked. Depends on the personal taste.

Even if it should be the best for whatever kind of usage, it is expensive anyway, i.e. it is not “democratic” , because it is not available for all world consumers like the most popular fats.

But if we would like to find a right compromise , Olive Oil and olive pomace oil are instead, excellent alternatives to Extra Virgin Olive Oil to be used for cooking and also for an “healthier” deep frying.

“Olive oil” is used for preserving tuna fish or truffle or other food products but also for body massage in some Countries, while “olive pomace oil” is used for “taralli”, “focacce” (respectively kind of bread and kind of pizza popular in Southern Italy) or for cooking , replacing seed oils.

Their “strength points” are:

a) They are in general, flavourless, depending on the percentage of extra virgin put in the product, especially olive pomace oil;

b) They are “reasonable” by price point of view;

c) They have an high “smoke point”, ideal for a deep frying

d) Both have an high percentage of MUFA compared to all other vegetable and not vegetable oils.

Considering all above why we don’t replace the daily usage of seed oil or other fats, with Olive Oils which are world known for their healthy benefits?

di Massimo Occhinegro