While many tend to think olive oil was made famous by the miracle that occurred on Chanukah, history tells us that olive oil dates back a lot further than the time of neis Chanukah.
As plants native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, olive trees have one of the longest food histories among all known foods. In addition, olive oil was not exclusively used as a food, but also as a medicine, a lamp fuel, and in other ways.
While olives were originally found only in the Middle East, over time they have been grown in Greece, Italy, France and Turkey. In recent years olive trees also became widely cultivated enjoyed in cuisines worldwide from Australia and New Zealand to the United States. Today, nearly 50 countries produce olive oil commercially and over 3 million tons of olive oil are currently consumed each year.
Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives. Olive oil is available in a variety of grades, which reflect the degree to which it has been processed. Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most distinct flavor and strongest overall health benefits.
Extra virgin olive oils can naturally range in color from pale yellow to golden to light and dark shades of green. There is no guaranteed relationship between the quality of EVOO and its color—in other words, there are high-quality versions of EVOO in all color shades, and low-quality versions of EVOO in all color shades. Taste and aroma make far better ways of evaluating EVOO quality than color. If the EVOO you are looking at is dark green in color, it's often because olive leaves have been added to the olive crush prior to the pressing of the oil.
Since olive oil can become rancid from exposure to light and heat, there are some important purchasing criteria you should follow to ensure buying a better quality product. Look for olive oils that are sold in dark tinted bottles and make sure to store the oil away from any contact with heat.
Because EVOO is monounsaturated oil it tends to decrease the chance of oxidation, meaning it will not break down with time. On the other hand, EVOO includes much more actual fruit particles making it burn more quickly than lighter olive oil. So enjoy your EVOO in salads and dressings but don’t use it for cooking. Adding it to baked goods is another great way of boosting flavor and enjoying its health benefits.
These light and tasty crackers go well with your favorite dips and they are a lot better for you than chips.
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rolling
Cornmeal for the pans
Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. The dough should be just a bit sticky to work with.
Shape the dough into a large ball. Cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and set aside. Cover with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare 2 pizza stones if you have, by dusting with cornmeal. Alternately, line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Working with one piece at a time, shape and stretch each ball into a flat strip, using a rolling pin to flatten it as thin as possible. Cut into strips or squares using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel. Place crackers on the pizza stone or prepared pan. Repeat with all the dough balls. Prick each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, and place in the oven. Bake until deeply golden, about 10-12 minutes and remove from oven. Cool and serve or store airtight for a few days.