So you think extra virgin olive oil is only good to season your salad? Chefs and pastry-chefs already prove that extra virgin can play a leading role among other, more classical ingredients in their original and elaborate recipes. But lately, companies and researchers all over the world are experimenting with new applications, exploiting the olive’s inner qualities such as taste, health benefits or as a power source.
In 2009, Italian designer Giulio Patrizi launched Eco Fast Furniture, a completely sustainable outdoor furniture range being made of totally recycled and recyclable material, Ecomat, derived from the waste of olive oil production. Created for the Mediterranean Design Competition the project received a special mention at the Istanbul Design Week for innovative use of materials. More lately, a research group leaded by Maurizio Servili at Perugia University in Italy has been working on possible uses of olive mill leftovers to make building and fuel material.
But olive oil’s exploitation can go even further.
As already reported on Olive Oil Times by Julie Butler, Wrangler, the world-famous American manufacturer specialized in denim clothing, launched moisturizing jeans with olive oil, along with the soothing and “anti-cellulite” ones, based on aloe vera and caffeine. The moisturizing effect is guaranteed by the olive oil component squalene, a powerful hydrator that has the same structure to a lipid found naturally in human skin so that it can easily penetrate the upper layers.
The French blog Passion Olive author Bastien Milhau collects stories and odd facts about extra virgin: like the olive liqueur traditionally made in the Gard – a southern France department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region – through the distillation of black olives in pure alcohol and sugar and brought back to life by a local craft distiller.
In Apulia – at Italy’s southern far end – we can find another traditional olive liqueur made by extra virgin olive oil producer Cazzetta following an ancient recipe by the Basilian monks. The old recipe was found in an ancient underground olive mill and is made using grappa and local Cellina di Nardò and Ogliarola Salentina olives.
A Spanish company recently launched Air-lift, a line of dental gums expressly conceived to fight bad breath, plaque and tartar thanks to a formula based on olive oil. A patented combination of extra virgin olive oil, xylitol and fluoride traps and flushes the VSC (Volatile Sulfur Compounds, responsible for bad breath) without altering the natural balance of the mouth.
In Southern Italy where olive groves are common, locals used to make teas to take all the flavor and benefits from the olive trees without wasting the precious fruits. The most tender leaves were hand-picked and slowly dried under the sun or in special ovens ensuring the maximum content of anti-oxidants and oleuropein is maintained.
This ancient usage has been rediscovered by the company Mirabilia whose olive groves, according to their website, “are situated on an ancient archaeological site – Cluviae – once home to the Sanniti tribes, who cultivated their olives on the very same wide Abruzzan plateau in Roman times.”