The Summer Fancy Food Show opens Sunday in Washington, D.C., and SmartBrief is gearing up to discover what innovation the industry has cooked up this year. In advance of the event, Jean-Louis Barjol, executive director of the International Olive Council, wrote a guest post to discuss olives and olive oil, which you will probably come across on the exhibit floor. The council is the worldwide organization that sets quality standards for the olive and olive oil industry. Based in Madrid, Spain, the council promotes trade, consumption and international cooperation in the field of olive oil and olives.
The time is right for promoting olive oil and olives as an excellent addition to a healthy diet, as North American consumers strive to make healthier lifestyle choices. Olive oil and olives contain monounsaturated fatty acids, which are considered healthy dietary fat. Research shows that monounsaturated fat, when used to replace saturated fat, helps reduce LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol while maintaining HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. Consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those in olives and olive oil, provides potential benefits of lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
Both products also offer culinary benefits.
- The olive tree was first cultivated in 6000 B.C., and olives and olive oil appear in one of the earliest cookbooks discovered. “Apicius” was a collection of Roman recipes thought to be compiled in the late fourth or early fifth century.
- The difference between green and black olives lies in their ripeness. Green olives are picked unripe, making them denser and more bitter than brown or black olives, which stay on the tree until fully ripened. Green and black olives can be used in a variety of dishes.
- No two olive oils are alike. Olive oil ranges in flavor — from robust and full-flavored to delicate and buttery, from fruity and earthy to peppery and nutty — to suit everyone’s personal taste. Descriptions that provide a guide to the three main varieties of olive oil in the U.S. and Canada:
- Made from full-flavored ripe olives that are pressed immediately after harvest, extra virgin olive oil boasts a robust, fruity flavor. It has the most full-bodied taste and aroma of olive oil varieties. Extra virgin olive oil is superb for salad and vegetable dishes, basting meat and seafood, and seasoning soup, marinade and sauces. It can also be used alone as a dip for bread.
- Olive oil, sometimes described as “pure,” is an excellent all-purpose cooking oil that is more golden in color than extra virgin olive oil. It has a mild flavor with a hint of fruitiness. It can be used for sautéing, stir-frying, basting grilled or oven-roasted meat, poultry and seafood and as a flavor enhancer for sauces, marinade and dressing.
- Extra light olive oil, with its light-gold color, is the mildest of olive oil varieties, with a hint of olive flavor. It’s an excellent choice for all types of cooking, especially baking. It can be used in place of plain vegetable oil in most recipes. Extra light olive oil is also the best choice for high-heat cooking because it remains extremely stable and won’t burn. Extra light olive oil has the same amount of calories and the same nutrient content as other olive oil.
What products are you most looking forward sampling or reading about this year? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to say hi at the Fancy Food Show.