The olive (Olea europaea) is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iraq, and northern Iran at the south of the Caspian Sea.
Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The word derives from Latin olīva which is cognate with the Greek ἐλαία(elaía) ultimately from Mycenaean Greek. The word “oil” in multiple languages ultimately derives from the name of this tree and its fruit.
The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 meters (26–49 ft) in height. However, the Pisciottana, a unique variety comprising 40,000 trees found only in the area around Pisciotta in the Campania region of southern Italy often exceeds 8–15 meters (26–49 ft) with correspondingly large trunk diameters. The silvery green leaves are oblong, measuring 4–10 centimeters (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 centimeters (0.39–1.2 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.
The small white, feathery flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the previous year’s wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.
The fruit is a small drupe 1-2.5 centimeters (0.39-0.98 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives may contain chemicals (usually ferrous sulfate) that turn them black artificially.
Olea europaea contains a seed commonly referred to in American English as a pit or a rock, and in British English as a stone.
Olive oil productions process
The production process of olive oil is:
– Picking the fruit from olive trees.
– Washing. The washing is done after separating leaves and other light objects. The good washing of the olive is necessary for superior product quality.
– Grinding. Grinding takes place in a special mill with sprockets which crushe the olives and the nucleus.
– Massage. After grinding, the olive mass is kneaded for about 30 minutes. Then, depending on the type of machinery either it’s been drived to hydraulic presses at 27°C where oil is being extracted or heated to about 40°C and then is been drived in centrifugal separators where the oil is separated from the olive paste, from water and other remaining ingredients.
In any case, the processing of olives and the extraction of its olive oil, is entirely mechanical, without using chemicals or other substances, This oil, classified as ‘Virgin’, which according to the severity is classified as extra virgin or not. Then the oil is filtered and stored or packaged.
The olive wreath also known as kotinos was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. It was an olive branch, of the wild- olive tree (Olea oleaster) that grew at Olympia, intertwined to form a circle or a horse-shoe. According to Pausanias it was introduced by Heracles as a prize for the running race winner to honour his father Zeus.In the ancient Olympic Games there were no gold, silver, or bronze medals. There was only one winner per event, crowned with an olive wreath made of wild-olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Olive wreaths were given out during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens in honor of the ancient tradition, because the games were being held in Greece.
Olive related Recipe links