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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Olive - 'Olea europaea" - fam: Oleaceae

The Olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning 'European olive', is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in the Mediterranean Basin, from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia, as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands, Mauritius, and Réunion. The species is cultivated in many places and considered naturalized in all the countries of the Mediterranean coast, as well as in Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Java, Norfolk Island, California, and Bermuda.1

Recent studies show that olives and olive oil help to lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain cancers. The Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of olives and olive oil has long been known as one of the healthiest.

Residents of Crete in the Mediterranean have the highest consumption of olive oil per person in the world and they also have the lowest rate of death from heart related diseases in the world. It is no secret that the olive, which has been providing food and medicine to humans for millenniums, is one of the most versatile and life giving trees on earth.

Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fats and contains no cholesterol. Many nutritionists and medical groups including the National Heart Foundation are now recommending olive oil as the healthy substitute for other fats in the diet. Olive oil is the only oil which is actually a fruit juice ... in its purest form, the oil is simply 'squeezed' from the fruit, filtered and bottled ... with no contamination by any chemical processes.2

Raw olives are incredibly bitter, so once harvested they are cured and then usually preserved in salt or brine. The small, oval olive fruit has a flavour ranging from salty to mild and sweet. It can be harvested at any stage – the immature fruit is green; it turns red-brown and then black when fully ripened – which accounts in part for the variation in flavour.3

Varieties which are popular not only in Australia, but the whole world over, include ...
  • Kalamata - Originating from and named after the region of Kalamata in Greece, this olive is a black, medium-sized fruit with a salty flavour, and is probably the most popular olive in Australia.
  • Nicoise - A small black French olive, the Nicoise has a nutty flavour and is traditionally used in the salad of the same name.
  • Ligurian - A small oily Italian black olive with a mild flavour, the Ligurian olive is a good addition to fish dishes. 3

REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 - , Olives Australia 2 - , and 3


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