All about olive oil : from bible history until today shopping

 Purim sameach!!

If you want to skip history then go to the second article below :TODAY I WILL RESEND etc

Resent: Olive oil........... that they bring unto thee pure olive oil וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית‎

Over the years I sent you many articles about olive oil.
Because of this week parshat T'tzave [see just below] I am resending some of the articles.
Of course you may find  material which is repeated because the articles were sent/written on different dates.

Exodus Chapter 27 שְׁמוֹת 

כ  וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית--לַמָּאוֹר:  לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר, תָּמִיד.    20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.

Some interesting facts about olive-trees/ olive-oil from this week's

parasha: tetsawe

.......There are actually nine grades of olive oil: see below the piece of text from yalkut ME'AM LO'EZ[translated by rabbi ARYE KAPLAN z"l] ....for those studying mishnayot: see menahot chapter 8 ,mishna 4

God told Moses, "Let [the Israelites] bring you clear illuminating oil, made from hand-crushed olives. . ." God had commanded Moses to make the menorah as a lamp. Now God is telling Moses what kind of oil to use and when the menorah should be lit. The previous portion spoke of "oil for the lamp" (Exodus 25:6), but now the Torah specifies that the oil had to be "clear, hand-crushed olive oil."

The first thing that this teaches is that only olive oil could be used in the menorah, not any other kind. One reason for this is because olive oil burns with a very clear bright light, more so than any other type of oil. It also is drawn up in the wick better than other oils.

It is for this reason that it is best to kindle the Sabbath lamp with olive oil.

It is therefore taught that if one sees olive oil in a dream, he should anticipate wisdom. This refers to the light of the Torah, which the greatest of all lights. The Torah specifies that the oil for the menorah must be hand-crushed (katit) in a mortar until the first the first drops of clear oil are extracted, rather than be ground and pressed.

There are actually nine grades of olive oil. The only difference is in how they are made. Three times a year olives are harvested from the tree. They are not harvested all at once since different olives ripen at different times. There are some olives that ripen very quickly.

These are the ones at the top of the tree, which receive the most sunlight. These olives are harvested first, and three grades of oil are produced from them.

At first the olives are crushed and placed in a perforated basket so that the oil runs through the perforations. This oil is perfectly clear without any sediment. This is the "first oil."

The olives are then removed from the basket and placed in the oil press where the "second oil" is pressed from them.

Finally, they are removed from the press and placed in a mortar. The oil that is removed at this stage is the "third oil." Of all these grades of oil, only the first oil from the olives at the top of the tree is suitable for the menorah. The oil that is extracted in the press or mortar cannot be used.

When the Torah specifies "hand-pressed" oil, it is speaking of the first oil. Such oil runs out of the olives on its own and therefore is completely free of sediment. However, if the oil is pressed  it is impossible that the oil be without sediment.

The second harvest is taken from the olives that are in the middle of tree. These olives do not receive as much sunlight as those at the of the tree. After these are harvested, they are spread out on rooftops for the sun to heat them, and then the same three grades of oil mentioned earlier are extracted. Oil from such olives can also be  used, but here too only the first oil, but not the second or third oil.

Although these three grades of oil are made in the same manner as he first three, they do not produce as much light as the oil from the first harvest. The olives from the first harvest ripen on the tree while those from the second harvest must be ripened on the roof.

The third harvest is taken from the olives on the bottom of the tree where the sun hardly reaches at all. These olives cannot ripen on the tree and therefore after they are harvested they are placed in a vat to age. They are kept there until they ferment, and then they are placed in the sun to dry. Once this process is finished, a similar three grades of oil can be extracted from the olives.

From this, also, only the first oil which runs out by itself, can be used for the menorah, and not the second or third oil. Therefore, of the nine grades of oil only the first, the fourth, and the seventh can be used for the menorah since these are considered "hand-pressed." The other grades cannot be used for the menorah, but they may be used for meal offerings. (Leviticus 2:1 ff) The Torah therefore says that the oil must be "hand-pressed for the lamp." Only for the lamp must the oil be hand-pressed, but for meal offerings any olive oil is usable even if it is extracted by pressing or crushing.

Although the first oil of all three harvests can be used for the menorah and all nine grades can be used for meal offerings, there are still differences among them.




TODAY I WILL RESEND YOU an old ARTICLE with some PRACTICAL HINTS  ABOUT OLIVE OIL. [ contains some repetitions from the article above]

The most important facts are that the oil is pressed the same day the olives are harvested and that the process is a proper one and that the oil is straight away bottled in  dark glass bottles.

They can be bought in bulk [cheaper] and if so it would be wise to transfer the oil then to smaller dark bottles [or bottles covered by a "black covering, like a piece of cloth]which are filled totally to the top ,so that there is hardly any air in the bottle, to prevent oxidation]

Olive oil contains many important compounds.

Three important examined compounds are:

Oleic acid , squalene, linoleic acid

Various brands of olive oils contain different proportions of these compounds. In general: the higher the ratio of oleic acid to linoleic acid......... the better!

For example a ratio of 13 or higher [that means 13 times more oleic acid then linoleic acid , could be very good, a ratio of 10 a bit less so and a much lower ratio far less good, but if you think this is all you have to know........then sorry for the disappointment!!

Squalene may be extremely important as well and may be one of the major cancer protecting factors.

Alas, in Israel I have not seen a single company specifying any of these compounds on the bottle.

But I am sure we have excellent oil and any company specifying more on the bottle would be a straight recommendation.

Olive oil shemen zait

Olive oil is simply "good for everything"!Prevention and treatment of: hypertension, heart and blood vessel diseases, diabetes, all sorts of cancers [extremely beneficial in the prevention of breast cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer etc], asthma, arthritis etc

Rub the skin also with olive oil after a day on the beach or excessive sun exposure. On top of all that is mentioned above, new research suggests that extra-virgin olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal that does relieve [chronic] pain and this may be beneficial, specially with long term use of olive oil.

As a test: If the oil is high in oleocanthal it will cause a slight burning or stinging sensation in the throat. Nearly for sure the frequency of all form of cancer would drop dramatically ifolive oil was the only oil used in the diet, as well as all forms of cardiovascular problems. As known to you I advise as second healthy oil the use of sesame oil [for the moment buy in Israel only the brand of the company B and D ]which has different health benefits.

[new 2012: I recently saw another good sesame oil and may let you know more about that]

No other oils, certainly not canola.As we have too little space here to describe the mechanisms of the medical effects of olive oil [as far as they are known] let's concentrate on some practical facts useful for anybody.

Buy a high quality olive oil: don't save money in this case!The quality of the oil is dependent on very many factors.The olives on the upper branches of the tree are of a better quality [receiving more sun]If you want to read some more about olive oil tradition then read the piece of text from yalkut ME'AM LO'EZ [ parasha: tetzawe].For those studying mishnayot: see menahot chapter 8 ,mishna 4

Already in mishnaic times it was known that there are actually nine grades of olive oil. The only difference is in how they are made. Three times a year olives are harvested from the tree. They are not harvested all at once since different olives ripen at different times. There are some olives that ripen very quickly. These are the ones at the top of the tree, which receive the most sunlight. These olives are harvested first, and three grades of oil are pressed from them.The quality of the oil is dependent on many factors : the kind of olives, the higher[of the best quality] or lower ones on the tree, the handling of the olives, the climate, the "field", the pressing method, heat, light ,storage etc.Olive oil should be stored from the moment of production in totally dark bottles, because light destroys much good of the oil Buy always extra virgin oil [katit tahor]An excellent description would be: organic , [cold-pressed...see later], extra virgin olive oil, especially when all these characteristics are mentioned and bottled in dark bottles to the extent that the oil is not visible.[extra virgin should be mentioned on the bottle as the minimum requirement !!] Cold pressed: this is the way of pressing the oil. [In general the word cold pressed alone does mean little or nothing: the oil maybe still extracted with all kind of chemicals [so don't be fooled by this word]

Extra virgin oil is by definition cold pressed of course.This does not mean that olive oil, once prepared already, can't be used for cooking or frying purposes [heating it], an idea often spread by "nutrition-philosophers" without any basis to it.

The olives should be "cold pressed", but once they have released already the oil, it can be safely heated!!

In fact any Jew reading the Torah / Mishna should know better, where olive oil is described as being used for these purposes.Nothing in modern science even would contradict this.

"Pureolive oil"[shemen zayit zach etc] and these kinds of descriptions mean nothing and these oils maybe of very low quality [produced after many pressings]Using olive oil and at the same time other "rubbish oils" [not to mention margarine!] reduces tremendously the highly protective effects of olive oil

Olive oil contains many important compounds.Three important examined compounds are:Oleic acid , squalene, linoleic acid.

Various brands of olive oils contain different proportions of these compounds. In general: the higher the ratio of oleic acid to linoleic acid, the better!See above for the other details

Extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil contains also substantial quantities of lutein and carotene, also very important compounds for good vision.

How much oil to use daily??
 There is no answer to this question, from tradition one knows that it maybe a spoon or a few spoons a day.If one is not in the habit to use regularly olive oil, then it maybe a good idea to use /"drink" in the morning [or at other times] one or two spoons together with some salt/herbs[we advise to buy Herbamare and to use this instead of plain salt]This may be a very potent way of preventing many diseases.

For all of us it should be clear, that a good quality olive oil is a blessing "bli dai", even without all the scientific back up