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15 Olive Fun Facts

Check out these fun facts all olive lovers should know:

  1. The olive is an evergreen tree – because it does not drop its leaves in winter it has the capacity to work throughout the year to produce the energy-rich goodies that go into making delicious olives and olive oil.
  2. Olive tree has leathery, elongated, sharp-pointed leaves. They are dark greyish green on the upper surface and whitish cream on the lower surface.
  3. The olive tree has small, creamy-white flowers arranged in clusters called panicles. Most of them will drop off within a few days without setting fruit. They were just there for the pollen.
  4. Olive tree can start to bloom about two or three years after planting, but the first commercial crop is usually harvested after 4 years.
  5. On average, an olive tree can live to a ripe old age with some specimens over a thousand years old still bearing very good crops.
  6. Olives cannot be eaten directly from the tree since they are extremely bitter and astringent. Harvested olives need to be processed with brine before they become edible. Natural processing takes place with the help of beneficial yeasts and bacteria much like cheese making.
  7. Colour of the fruit depends on the maturity of the fruit. All olives start out green and then turn darker maroon or black as they ripen. A few rare varieties do not colour but go whitish.
  8. Oil extraction below 30 degrees Celsius keeps the aroma and beneficial anti-oxidant levels intact.
  9. One liter of olive oil is produced from the pressing of between 6 and 7 kg of olives.
  10. On average, the world consumes approximately 2.5 million tons of olive oil each year.
  11. Baked goods will last longer when you substitute butter with olive oil. It is the vitamin E and biophenolics that improve shelf life.
  12. Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) provide a rich source of vitamins E, A, and K.
  13. Olive oil is naturally cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrate-free.
  14. There is evidence of olive oil extraction in the Middle East from before 4500 BC.
  15. Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age. A good quality olive oil should keep up to two years. Exposure to air, light, warm temperatures and moisture shorten the shelf life of olive oil.

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