When it comes to eating ... most would agree that the Italians know how to blend fantastic flavours to make delicious traditional dishes. From crusty bread and olive oil to thin, crispy pizzas, and from creamy desserts to good old mozzarella, there really is something to suit every appetite and taste.
The History of Olive Oil
Olives are a classic starter in all Italian restaurants, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and of course the basis of olive oil which is so widely used in Italian cooking (and beyond!) Historians believe that olive trees actually first grew in Ancient Greece and then spread throughout the Mediterranean region as the Greeks explored and travelled further from home. The pressing of olives dates back to around 3000 BC and still continues in full force today!
Olive oil has so many fantastic uses, from dipping crusty bread to cooking, drizzling on salads and even used for the preservation of food! Historically, in regions where olive trees grew, people were heavily reliant on olive oil as part of their food preservation processes, allowing them to keep meat, fish and vegetables fresh to be consumed out of season when food supply was much more scarce.
Preserving food 'sott' olio ( 'under the oil') is a fantastic alternative to using vinegar for a change! Oil is a natural preservative and prevents spoilage by isolating food from the air by forming a seal which delays deterioration and mould formation. Peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, lemons and goats cheese are just a few foods perfect for olive oil preservation.
Whilst delicious in its original form, olive oil also provides a fantastic basic foundation to add flavours to, as the following recipe demonstrates. It is really easy to create, and makes an ideal homemade gift for all occasions!
Delicious Lemon And Fennel Oil (Good Housekeeping)
- 500ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large lemons
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
1. Put 500ml extra virgin olive oil, the pared rind of both lemons and 1 tsp. lightly crushed fennel seeds into a non-metallic bowl. Cover with cling film and store in a cool dark place to infuse for a week.
2. Strain through a sieve lined with kitchen paper into a jug and then pour into sterilised bottles. Add additional fennel seeds and lemon peel to decorate.
- Store in a cool, dark place. Oil will keep for up to 3 months.
- Stay safe when preserving with olive oil. As with any culinary process, there are certain risks which you should be aware of. The main but rare concern with canning is botulism, but as long as you take the necessary precautions, you can remain a happy, healthy preserver! Take into account how long you plan to store the food for (and where), and follow simple steps to cleanliness. Before you start canning in olive oil, refer to the safety guidelines outlined by our friends at www.oliveoilsource.com
At Wares, we stock a wide range of oil bottles, all of which are very popular with our customers; from restaurateurs and artisan producers to individuals making flavoured oils for gifts. Most of our oil bottles are available in a range of sizes and colours, and with a choice of standard or oil-pourer caps making them very versatile.