Where Olive Oil Comes From: A Brief History of Olive Oil, Types of Olive Oil and More!
Posted by Michael Paz on
Suppose you’re like the many individuals across the globe who have a bottle of olive oil stocked in their pantry. If so, you know olive oil is a perfectly delicious and versatile culinary ingredient for salad dressings, marinades, bread dipping, and much more.
But did you know that olive has been a staple food for dozens of cultures for over a thousand years? And have you ever wondered where olive oil comes from?
In this blog, our professional olive oil producers and distributors at Texana Brands will discuss:
- What olive oil is
- How olive oil is made
- Where olive oil comes from
- A brief history of olive oil
- Types of olive oil
Table of Contents:
- What is Olive Oil
- How is Olive Oil Made?
- Where Does Olive Oil Come From?
- Olive Oil: A Brief History
- Early Olive Oil Appearances
- Olive Oil and The Ancient Greeks
- Olive Oil, the Roman Empire, and The Middle Ages
- Olive Oil in the Early Modern Era and Modern Times
- What Olive Oil Types Are There?
What People Ask:
What was olive oil used for originally?
Early historical records indicate that olive oil was first produced for fueling lamps. Shortly after, olive oil was cultivated for cooking and medicinal purposes.
Where did olive oil originate?
Many historians believe that olive oil first originated in the Mediterranean Basin or somewhere in The Middle East. Early historical records point to ancient olive oil use in Iran, Turkistan, Greece, Italy, and Egypt.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a liquid, healthy dietary fat extracted from pressing fresh, whole olives. Whole olives are pressed, typically by a machine, and the oil is collected and stored away from air and light exposure.
How is Olive Oil Made?
While making olive oil varies depending on the producer, there are some common steps needed to complete the process. Below are four steps olive oil must undergo to be ready for distribution and eventually have a spot in your pantry.
- Olive tree growing: While olive trees are typically grown in the Mediterranean, at Texana Brands, we grow our olive trees on our 150-acre orchard. Our growers carefully cultivate the olive trees to allow our Arbequina olives to ripen to perfection before harvesting.
- Olive harvesting: When the freshly ripened olives are ready, our Texana Brand growers begin harvesting. The harvesting process is essential for getting the olives prepared for pressing and olive oil extraction.
- Olive processing: Typically, olive oil producers crush the olives into a paste, decant the paste, and process the paste to extract the olive oil. At Texana Brands, we remove the oil from fresh whole olives using cold-pressed processes.
- Olive oil storage: Once the fresh olive oil is collected, producers store the oil in stainless steel tanks or other approved containers. The storage process is vital for keeping as much oxygen and light out as possible. The olive oil is bottled in dark bottles to help reduce light and air exposure. This helps keep the oil fresh and retain its robust flavor.
Where Does Olive Oil Come From?
Many historians agree that olive oil may have originated in Iran and Turkistan based on some archeological evidence. However, some scholars believe that cultivating olive trees and producing olive oil may have been common in various cultures all over the world.
Some historians believe that olive oil became common in many cultures across various continents at the same time. There is historical evidence to back up this claim indicating that olive oil use was every day in ancient Greece, Israel, Egypt, and North African cultures.
Olive Oil: A Brief History
Olive oil has stood the test of time, from its fascinating origins in ancient times to its widespread uses in today’s modern society. Continue reading below to learn more about the history of this versatile and flavorful dietary fat.
Early Olive Oil Appearances
Whether olive oil originated in Greece, the Middle East, or several places simultaneously, this culinary ingredient was used for foods, ointments, and even religious ceremonies.
The earliest traceable Mediterranean economies cultivated and traded olives and olive oil. Cultures such as the ancient Greeks and Israelis prospered from their olive and olive oil trading.
Olive Oil and The Ancient Greeks
In ancient Greek society, olives and olive oil use expanded beyond food. Olive oil and olive trees represented victory, peace, wisdom, and health to the Greeks. Olive tree branches and wreaths were common for decoration like artwork and jewelry. Olive harvesting and olive oil production were essential to the ancient Greek economy.
Countless historical records indicate that the ancient Greeks commonly used olive oil for:
- Lighting (oil lamps)
- Medicinal purposes (treating infections, burns, and wounds)
- Health benefits
Olive Oil, the Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages
Leading by the Greeks' examples, the ancient Romans grew olive trees, harvested olives, and produced and sold olive oil. They even began cultivating olives and olive oil across the vast Roman Empire, establishing producers in Italy, Spain, and other regions.
When the Roman Empire fell, the Eastern Roman Empire, now known as Turkey, continued the practice of olive cultivation and olive oil production. Over time, religious communities took up olive oil production and spread the tradition to Western Europe and well into the Middle Ages.
Olive Oil in the Early Modern Era and Modern Times
Europeans began venturing across the ocean to the New World by the 16th century and brought the practice of olive oil cultivation with them. Olive harvesting and oil production became common in Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and California in the decades that followed.
Today, olive tree cultivation and olive oil production continue to be an essential part of many cultures and economies. Many of today’s olive trees flourish across the world, including in Texas!
What Types of Olive Oil Are There?
Today, olive oil comes in many varieties, each produced for different purposes. The differences between olive oil types include extraction methods quality, chemical analysis, organoleptic analysis (sensory), and whether procedures combine olive oil with other oils.
There are five primary types of olive oil. They are:
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Refined Olive Oil
- Pure Olive Oil
- Olive Pomace Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has proven health benefits and is a widely recognized healthy dietary fat. EVOO is versatile and flavorful, making it a perfect ingredient for cooking. At Texana Brands, we’re committed to producing and distributing the highest-quality extra-virgin olive oil and all natural infused olive oils possible for all of your culinary needs.
Olive oil has provided diverse culinary, medicinal, and health benefits throughout society. There’s no denying that olive oil continues to provide a favored and flavorful addition to any dish.
Are you looking to add some top-quality extra virgin olive oil to your pantry?
You can find signature Texana Brands olive oil products ready for purchase here. Click here to learn more about our available extra-virgin and infused olive oil products.