Several years ago when Cathy and I decided to ‘return to the land’ so to speak, it was a toss up between becoming wine makers or olive oil producers. After a bit of research wine seemed complicated – lots of ageing, blending and general tinkering. The tipsiness was appealing, but there were two key facts about olive oil that intrigued us.
Firstly, olive oil is the oldest unadulterated food in the world. So many things are chemically manipulated, heat treated or somehow processed. Even pure things like wine, which has admittedly been around for millennia like olive oil, has sulphites added to it. Extra virgin olive oil is the oil from the olive fruit. No more, no less.
Secondly, olive oil is the only oil that is extracted from a fruit. All the other oils we use are from seeds. The trouble with seeds is that their oil has to be chemically extracted using an industrial solvent. Then oil and solvent need to be separated in a refinery. All a bit yuck. With the olive, the fruit is crushed, then the oil simply separated from the water using only centrifugal (spinning) force. No chemicals and no funny business. Totally transparent.
And so we ended up making olive oil. I do still harbour a little fantasy about a bottle of wine with my name on it though...