Olive oil is one of the three core food plants in Mediterranean diet, the other two being wheat and the grape. In the Mediterranean basin, the olive was cultivated and its oil traded as early as 3000 B.C.
Olive oil is produced by pressing olive, the fruit of a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae). It’s commonly used in not only for cooking and salad dressing but even for frying. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps.
The composition of olive oil varies with the cultivar, altitude, time of harvest and extraction process. It consists mainly of oleic acid (up to 83%), with smaller amounts of other fatty acids including linoleic acid (up to 21%) and palmitic acid (up to 20%).
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, and is of higher quality: among other things, it contains no more than 0.8% free acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects; this specific feature and all other etravirgin olive oil mandatory specifications are stated by European Community Law Reg. CEE 1531/2001.
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