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Olive oil
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Olive oil

For Popeye's girlfriend, see Olive Oyl.

Olive oil is an oil derived from the fruit of the olive tree, which originated in the Mediterranean area. It is produced by pressing olives and has a very high content of monounsaturated fats.

Olive oil was traditionally produced by beating the trees with sticks to knock the olives off and crushing them in stone or wooden mortarss or beam presses. Nowadays, olives are ground to tiny bits, obtaining a paste that is mixed with water and processed by centrifugation, separating the oil from the pomace (the other remaining substances).

Edible commercial olive oil can be divided into several categories according to its chemical characteristics and the production method: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and Olive Oil. The first two, virgin olive oils, are obtained only by physical extraction from the fruits. Non virgin olive oil is obtained by the chemical refining of a low-quality non-edible grade of virgin olive oil called "lampante" olive oil.

A second type of oil can be extracted from the remaining pomace. This is called Olive Pomace Oil and it is obtained, like all the other food oils, by treatment with a chemical solvent, generally hexane, and subsequent chemical refining.

Of all the categories, Extra Virgin Olive Oil presents the highest organoleptic, nutritional, and health qualities, as well as the most "flowery" taste.

Today olive oil is mainly used in cooking and also in cosmetics and soaps, but it has been used for medicines and as a fuel for oil lamps.

The oil was a central product of the Minoan civilization, where it is thought to have represented wealth. The Minoans put the pulp into settling tanks and, when the oil rose to the top, drained the water from the bottom.

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