Olive Oil and Food Preservation

From long ago, when the methods we have today for preserving foods did not exist, people sought other ways to preserve their vegetables, meat, fish and cheese. One of the most natural ways was to preserve them in olive oil. In this way, food

can be preserved for very long periods without losing n either its nutritional value nor its taste. It is well known that olive oil is a natural preservative, preventing air from coming into contact with the food and thus destroying it.

Basic principles of preservation: The food must be completely dry. The jars that are to be used must also be completely clean and dry. Use extra virgin olive oil and cover the food completely. You must never, however, fill the jar right up to the top.

Aromatic olive oils The decipherment of the Linear B tablets has given us much valuable information on the use of aromatic oils in religious rituals, as perfumes, in leather tanning and in the treatment of illnesses. The gods of Olympus smeared their bodies with aromatic olive oils to make their muscles supple, their skin soft and for health purposes. Olive oil is a wonderful disinfectant. There are many valuable references in old Greek sources to recipes using aromatic olive oils. Some were used to add more taste to the oil or to bolster its antioxidant qualities. The most common aromatic plants and herbs are oregano, coriander, fennel, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme and basil. We can also add spices, garlic and chilli peppers. Up until a few years ago it was still common for people to throw two sprigs of oregano into the olive oil jar to add taste. Many aromatic olive oils are sold commercially, but we can also make them ourselves. They are used with salads and roast meats and with fresh and toasted bread. A few drops of aromatic olive oil on your plate are enough to put you in a good mood! A word of warning! Aromatic oils can be easily damaged, in particular when the bottle or jar is opened. It is therefore best to remove the herbs once the olive oil has absorbed their aroma. The aromatic plants must not be washed so that they do not lose their aroma; they must be perfectly dry. The jar which will be used must also be dry and sterilised.

Olive oil and fennel In a bottle, add two glasses of extra virgin olive oil, 2-3 cloves and a sprig of fennel. Leave for two weeks in a cool, dark place.

Olive oil with basil Pour two cups of extra virgin olive oil into a bottle or jar and add a couple of sprigs of fresh basil. If you wish, you can also add two cloves of garlic. Store in a cool, dry place for two weeks.

Olive oil with chilli peppers Pour two cups of extra virgin olive oil into a bottle or jar and add three whole chilli peppers. Store in a cool, dry place for one week.

Olive oil with garlic Peel three cloves of garlic. Pour three cups of extra virgin olive oil into a bottle or jar. Add the garlic and seal tightly. If you wish, you can also add a little rosemary. This aromatic oil adds an extra touch to salads and roast meats. It is natural, healthy and very tasty. What can be more delicious than a slice of toasted bread with a drizzle of olive oil with garlic! The few extra calories will recompense us with energy!

Olive oil with rosemary Pour two cups of extra virgin olive oil into a bottle or jar and add a sprig of rosemary and two small peppers. Seal the bottle tightly. Store in a cool, dry place for two weeks and then remove the rosemary and the peppers from the oil, so that it will last longer.