So, what do you really mean by virginity?

Olive Oil by Vicci from moonstarsandpaper

I heard something so amazing on Fresh Air the other day that I just couldn’t resist writing about it.  Terry Gross talked to Tom Mueller about his new book, Extra Virginity. Don’t worry, this is a food blog: he wrote about olive oil!

Terry asked him why olive oil was so much more interesting than other vegetable oils, why it was worthy of taste tests, fancy imports, and high prices. Mueller explained for vegetable oils, the oil is extracted from the corn kernel or soy bean, the seeds, with a chemical solvent, and then processed again to remove the solvent so that the oil is edible.  Not exactly natural.  On the other hand, olive oil is fruit juice.  That’s right, FRUIT JUICE. Olives are the small, fleshy fruit of the olive tree, and when you press them, they ooze out their juices…olive oil.  I can’t believe I never thought about it that way. Mind. Totally. Blown.

Olives on the tree, from soil-net library

This is seriously high calorie juice! Now I get why olive oil is so varied in quality and flavor, why it has such subtle, but important variations that you never notice in your canola oil. Mueller goes on to talk about the misconceptions and deceptions in olive oil labeling and marketing. Pretty fascinating stuff. You can find the interview from Fresh Air here.



One thought on “So, what do you really mean by virginity?

  1. I heard this story as well! I loved his distinctions between butter and olive oil as well. And what’s always amazed me about this “fruit” is how varied the “juice” can be, even from within the same crop. Reminds me of grapes and wine, actually. (And fun to consider in contrast with, say, orange juice, where you pick a bunch of oranges and your juice pretty much always tastes the same, right?) Great post!

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