Oct 242011

When we hear of polyphenols it is usually in relation to what they do that is good for us. Polyphenols are found in plants and are powerful anti-oxidants that put the smack-down on free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that, due to their instability, damage cells. My husband, the scientist and engineer, could give you a more thorough explanation, but Olive Crazy is the writer in the house.

So, when olives are crushed and the first batch of unprocessed extra virgin olive oil is milled out, the resulting oil is high in the good-for-you polyphenols. The polyphenols eliminate the extra electron in free radicals, saving you for pursuits like living to a healthy and ripe old age so you can enjoy your grandchildren.

But Olive Crazy, you say, your title says that polyphenols are bad too – what do you mean?

Polyphenols are bad when they are heavily present in olive waste used as fertilizer. The polyphenols can reach toxic levels and harm the soil and plant growth that the fertilizer is intended to help.

Thanks to the University of Sevilla (Spain) School of Agricultural Engineering, a study was conducted on the use of alperujo as a fertilizer in organic farming. The alperujo is a byproduct of a two-phase centrifugation olive oil milling process.  It is all the olive waste that is left over, solid and liquid, after all the olive oil has been extracted.

The alperujo can be used to generate energy and is being used to do so at two power plants in Cordoba, Spain. It can also be used as mulch after careful composting. The composting process reaches high temperatures which destroys pathogens and weed seeds, breaks down the polyphenols, and converts the organic waste into a stable humus, ready to use in the place of chemical fertilizers.

This technology has been around for a few years, but despite the potential cost savings and environmental advantages the processing technology is not widely available and research money isn’t either. The Spanish government is busy paying for the storage of past harvests which, by the time the oils are bottled, will have fewer of the healthy polyphenols than our bodies need, but that’s another story.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Oct 232011

Every day I read lots of material about the olive, some from books and others from the internet. Each week I share with you the articles, recipes, research documents, and other information I find on the internet. Most of it is very interesting and some of it inspires me to write an article or two of my own. None of these links are in any way my opinion or are endorsed by me. I am sharing.

Olive Links of the Week

Turkey’s olive oil exports expected to reach $5 bln by 2023
Today’s Zaman
New incentives through Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture are increasing olive and olive oil production.

Recipe: Pan seared sea scallops
This flavorful recipe is courtesy of Chef Parind Vora from Restaurant Braise of Austin, Texas.

International Olive Council Market Newsletter September 2011
International Olive Council
The Market Newsletter provides provisional olive oil data among IOC member producers for the 2010/2011 crop years.

Cutting off the branch you’re sitting on
Israel planning to open olive oil market to competition and local olive oil producers are upset.

Study Recommends Olive Oil Byproduct as Organic Fertilizer
The Olive Oil Times
More information on alperujo.

Tostones con Mojo
Fox 10 TV’s Studio Ten
A vibrant recipe from Momma’s Mojo Cafe & Deli in Mobile, Alabama.

Recipes: Obsessed with olives
Some lovely recipes from Helen Melser, an olive tea drinker from Masterton En Zed. The olives in cheese pastry will go great with beer – mmmmmm.

Paradiso Olive Oils & Vinegars Brings Heavenly Tastes to Redmond
Redmond Patch
Kevin and Shirley Carder open their own (not a franchise) olive oil and condiments store in Redmond, California.

Beyond extra virgin: New standard aims to guarantee quality in olive oil
The Washington Post Lifestyle Section
A great article that “busts” some olive oil “secrets”.

A harvest of tears: Palestinian agriculture continues to suffer as a result of ruthless Israeli policies
Middle East Monitor
Solidarity and the olive harvest in Palestine.

FIORE’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest – Highest Antioxidants Available
Village Soup
The planetary southside’s olive oils get play in Ireland.

Italian comfort food prepared by Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge
Arizona ABC 15
It’s gnocchi my friends. Either you love it (Mr. Olive Crazy) or you tolerate it (Olive Crazy).

Reactions Underscore “Super Premium’s” Long Road Ahead
The Olive Oil Times
Why is it that I always agree and disagree with this writer all in the same article? He’s a spin-master.

Farm to table movement comes to Camden library
Village Soup Herald Gazette
Mainers are eatin’ good.

Israeli settler destruction of 1000s of trees hits Palestinian olive harvest
Malta Today
Palestinian olive harvest down, more to starve, Oxfam weighs in.

Key Ingredient: Olive oil
Washington Post All We Can Eat
I’m in this for the olive oil biscuits – oh yeah!

Five things to do with…fennel
Sydney Morning Herald
I have never cooked with fennel. I guess it’s time to give it a try.

Balloonists seek attorney fees from JCM Farming olive farm
My Desert
You lost your business, you lost your job, now you want attorney’s fees? I bet ole JCM doesn’t agree.

Pumpkin Hummus
CBS Minnesota
I am coming to the conclusion that if you can squish it you can make it into hummus.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jun 122011

The answer is – when it’s heated too high. Summer grilling is upon us, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) slathered meats and vegetables are being tossed onto grills. As the heat goes higher and you try to put a nice char on your food, all those beautifully nutritious anti-oxidants in EVOO turn into free-radicals.

But, how does that happen? And, what is a free-radical anyway?

All cooking oils have what is known as a smoke point. It is the temperature at which a cooking oil starts to break down into glycerol and free fatty acids and produces smoke. Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s smoke point is listed in several sources as ranging from 320F/160C to 400F/204C. This means that by the time you’ve got your grill good and hot your EVOO covered or marinated food won’t retain the healthful benefits or flavor of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil you just used.

A free radical is any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell. Yes, that doesn’t sound too bad but apparently the accumulation of those unpaired electrons cause oxidative damage to us or in simpler terms makes us age more rapidly, both inside and out.

Now, I like grilled foods, I like charred meats and vegetables, and I like olive oil. I have found a happy compromise. If I must use a cooking oil for grilling or high heat, I use grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point, about 485F/252C. It also has little flavor and I finish my newly grilled food with the EVOO of my choosing – all the benefits and few of the carcinogens. Mmmmmm!

May the sun shine through your branches.


Apr 092011

About three times a week I work out with a trainer to correct the barbeque and biscuit damage done to my body by my political campaign diet. My trainer’s name is Travis. This week, Travis asked me what I do. After I ran him through the ins and outs of my lobbying career, I told him about Olive Crazy. He wrinkled his nose and said he didn’t like olives. I asked why, and he said, because they are too bitter. I was a bit surprised but thought about a research brief I read from the UC Davis Olive Center examining consumer olive oil preferences.

Here is the link to the Research Brief of the study published in the March 2011 edition of “Food Quality and Preference”. The study, conducted by UC Davis sensory scientists, Claudia Delgado and Jean-Xavier Guinard, was of 110 Northern California consumers about their preferences for 22 commercial extra virgin olive oils. Half of the test oils were from California and the other half were imported.

Travis and my Mom are poster children for this study, except they are not from California. Mom with her love of rancid olive oil (see Help, My Olive Oil Tastes Awful) and Travis for thinking olives and olive oil are too bitter.

Here are some of the study findings: Olive oil that is high grade, with no imperfections, is actually more bitter and 74 percent of the well-educated Californians that made up this study did not like the “good stuff”. The authors did make some observations that these same folks enjoy bitter and pungent beers and coffees and perhaps with some prodding could be persuaded to enjoy extra virgin olive oil as well. What would that prodding be? It is nothing revolutionary, just good old phrases like “extra virgin olive oil is really good for you and your family. It is healthy and loaded with anti-oxidants”. Perhaps this is the Pavlovian approach to marketing evoo. There is a link at the bottom of the link I provided which directs you to purchase the entire study. I didn’t buy it, but if you are really interested and are hoping to market your crop then maybe you should check it out.

Regardless of the marketing gimmickry, I think Americans will come to enjoy all the humanly consumable grades of olive oil. Just give us some product, some exposure, some truths, and we’ll do the rest.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Mar 232011

This article is for men and women. I want to make sure the guys don’t get left out. Beauty treatments are for all, and olive oil makes everyone look good and feel great too.

Olive oil has been used for millennia to beautify, cleanse, and treat the human body from cradle to grave. Newborns had their first baths in olive oil; women mixed colored clays with olive oil to adorn themselves; men oiled their bodies, steamed themselves, and then scraped the impurities from their skins; and the dead were mummified with many ingredients including olive oil.

Recently we have seen an increase in olive oil as a base in health and beauty products. Today I’m going to focus not on those products but on using olive oil right out of the bottle or can. Some of the treatments use additional products like sugar and essential oils, but no fancy stuff. You should be able to get most items at your local grocery and drugstore. For each treatment I will suggest which grade of olive oil to use. Extra virgin olive oil has a stronger scent and unless you are using it in a treatment that will be removed before you venture out of your house smelling like dinner, I suggest virgin or olive oil for any application you will be “wearing” in public. Also, if you are going to make a habit of these treatments, buy separate bottles of oil for kitchen and bath, or decant some of your kitchen stash into a glass bottle to keep in the bathroom.

Olive Oil Treatments

  1. Makeup remover. Extra virgin olive oil is good for this one. Put enough oil to remove all makeup in a small glass bowl or teacup. Run hot water into the basin and set bowl or cup in hot water. Let oil warm up a bit. Don’t let it get hot though. Using clean fingers dip in oil and massage areas of face covered by foundation or blush, dip a cotton ball in oil and gently remove eye makeup, if there is still some mascara around the eye use an olive oil soaked cotton swab. Now this next part is up to you, either wipe off the rest of your face with cotton pads or skip straight to washing your face as you would normally. Repeat if there is any makeup remaining. Blot dry with clean towel.
  2. Extra dry skin treatment. Before going to bed soak affected area in warm water, lightly dry, and apply extra virgin olive oil. Cover up with non-constricting cotton clothes, gloves, and socks. In the morning cleanse using non-drying products, and apply a thin layer of virgin or olive oil. Try out different types to see which one has an odor you can make it through the day wearing (smelling).
  3. Dry and ashy skin treatment. Use virgin or olive oil on damp skin and massage well. If you prefer, select an essential oil of your choosing and add a few drops to olive oil you have decanted into a glass bottle for this purpose. You know what you like and in what scent strength. Experiment until you create your own special blend. If it’s great, find a market and sell it.
  4. Shaving lubricant. Warm any type olive oil you prefer including one that you’ve added essential oils to and massage into area you will be shaving. If you have coarse hair or are shaving your beard, use a warm, wet cloth to soften hairs before adding warm oil. Shave and rinse with warm water. There is really no need to wash off the olive oil – massage it into your skin and blot with a clean towel.
  5. Hair mask. Whether your scalp is dry, normal or oily your hair needs some love and an olive oil mask is just that. Definitely use extra virgin olive oil. Warm the oil in the sink or in the microwave. Do not let the oil get hot. Begin applying to the tips of your hair and work up to the roots. Finish by massaging oil into your scalp. Cover with a plastic shower cap to keep the warmth in and after no less than ten minutes (I prefer at least an hour so the abundant anti-oxidants in the extra virgin olive oil do their work too) shampoo, condition, and style as normal.
  6. Hair conditioner. Here is a great video on making your own conditioner. It is one of my favorites since it also makes me laugh. Follow the link to Homemade Olive Oil Conditioner.
  7. Lip scrub. In a small glass or tea cup mix 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Apply mix to soft toothbrush, scrub lips, rinse, and blot dry. Go kiss someone.
  8. Lip conditioner. Put one drop on a clean finger. Rub on your lips. It lasts longer than lip gloss.

I must say I love these treatments. I use all of them and with great results.

May the sun shine through your branches.