Olive Oil
eBook - ePub

Olive Oil

Chemistry and Technology

Dimitrios Boskou, Dimitrios Boskou

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  1. 282 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Olive Oil

Chemistry and Technology

Dimitrios Boskou, Dimitrios Boskou

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About This Book

A staple food for thousands of years for the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region, olive oil is now becoming popular among consumers all over the world. Olive oil differs from other vegetable oils because it is used in its natural form and has unique flavor and other characteristics. More and more research suggests its healthful benefits including reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Olive Oil is a compact and readable text on the most important aspects of chemistry, technology, quality, analysis and biological importance of olive oil. The topics selected have been developing rapidly in recent years, and will provide the reader with a background to address more specific problems that may arise in the future. Readers can expect more contributors and chapters in the 2nd edition, as well as a glossary.

  • Includes the chemistry and properties of olive oils
  • Contains details on the healthful properties of olive oil minor components
  • Extensive informaton on the analysis and authentication of olive oils
  • Features an overview on the economics of olive oil in the world market

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The Culture of the Olive Tree (Mediterranean World)

Aikaterini Polymerou-Kamilakis, PhD, [email protected], Director of the Hellenic Folklore Research Centre, Academy of Athens, Ipitou 3, Athens Greece, 105 57, Tel. 210. 33 18 042. FAX 210 33 313 418
The olive tree is a familiar feature of the Mediterranean landscape. It may have originated in Syria, Asia Minor, Ethiopia, Egypt, or India. Since ancient times, it has contributed, in practical and symbolic terms, to the economy, health and haute cuisine of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean. Crete, the Peloponnese, the coastal regions of Greece, the islands of the Eastern Aegean, such as Lesbos, Samos and Thasos, and the Ionian islands all possess olive groves. Likewise the olive is found widely in Cyprus, the coasts of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the south of Spain, France, Italy, and the coast of North Africa. Spanish migrants spread the olive to Mexico, Argentina, and Uruguay in Latin America, and Italians took it to Australia. The significance of the olive tree rests upon the existence of these groves, or has done so over recent centuries. The culture of the olive tree has three aspects: the landscape itself, diet (consisting mainly of the use of oil), and the symbolic importance of the tree and its fruit. All these aspects have been the subject of intense discussion over recent decades. The culture of the olive tree is manifested in many different ways, in material objects, in the arts, and in various customs. It is also manifested in religious behavior, magical rituals, medical prescriptions, and cosmetics. Above all, the culture of the olive tree is manifested in a symbolism that transcends time and place.

Myths and the History of the Olive Tree

The great significance that the olive tree has had for the life and the economy of the ancient world in the eastern Mediterranean area is evident in the appearance of the olive tree in the myths of the people who lived there. In Hebrew mythology a dove brings an olive branch to Noah after the Great Flood, indicating that life has returned to earth. In the Old Testament, oil is often mentioned along with wheat and wine as one of the basic products in the land of Israel (Valavanis, 2004). Moses dreamt of the Promised Land as “the land of olives and olive oil” (2004). The dedication of the altar and various objects required for worship was performed with holy oil “and Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them” (Leviticus, 8.10-12). According to Greek tradition, the bringing of the wreath to Olympia from the distant mythical Hyperborean countries was the initiative and deed of the demigod Heracles (Faklaris and Stamatopoulos, 2004). The ancient Egyptians crowned their dead with olive branches. The Phoenicians were possibly the first to produce olive oil.
The olive originated in the countries of south Asia and was carried by birds to the Mediterranean via the Middle East. The most ancient oleaster traces in Greece are fossilized leaves found in the caldera on the island of Santorini dating back some 50,000 – 60,000 years (Valavanis, 2004) (Fig. 1.1).

Fig. 1.1 Fossilized olive leaves recovered from the Caldera walls of Santorini, 6000 years old. From the book “Ode to the olive tree”, Hellenic Folklore Research Center of the Academy of Athens, General Secretariat for Olympic Games, Athens 2004.
There is no evidence for the use of olive products by the inhabitants of the prehistoric Aegean. Nevertheless, it seems possible that at least since the Neolithic Age, namely since 8,000 B.C., the oleaster fruit would occasionally be collected, along with other wild edible fruit, to supplement the daily diet. Palynology, the relatively new science of the study of pollen, has revealed the presence of oleaster pollen towards the end of the Neolithic Age, about 3,200–3,100 B.C. in Kopais, Thessaly, and Crete.
The principles of cultivation of the olive were apparen...

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