Is olive oil actually made from olives, or is it just a name?
The Short Answer
Yes, olive oil is made from olives.
The Long Answer
Ah, olive oil. Growing up in an Italian household, this was incredibly common in most of my childhood dinners. We use olive oil for so much, and yet most people know very little about this versatile substance. I was surprised to find that many people question the validity of the olive oil name. A lot of people on the internet are asking the question, “is olive oil actually made from olives?”
I assume this is one of those “a guinea pig is neither Italian nor pork” kind of moments. Maybe something as obvious as having the word olive right there in the name makes some doubt the validity of its implied ingredients. But, sorry olive oil conspiracy theorists, olive oil is made from olives.
While this may not sound super appetizing, olive oil is made from liquid fat contained in olives. It is harvested from olive cells through a pressing process which separates the oil from the rest of the olive. This is done in a variety of ways, the oldest of which is with an olive press, which was first used by the Greeks nearly 5,000 years ago. It does exactly what you’d expect. It squishes olives!
Another method used for oil extraction in more modern times is decanter centrifugation. The olives are ground into a fine paste and placed within an industrial decanter, where the oil is separated through a powerful spinning process. As the machine spins, the different parts of the olive paste are separated, and the physical elements are pressed out of the machine, leaving only the liquid.
A lot of the topics we cover here have a subjective side. We ask your opinion on what you think about a topic. This one is pretty straightforward, and if you think olive oil isn’t made from olives… then I don’t really know what to tell you. But I want to hear what your favorite kind of olive oil is. What do you use it for? Sound off and let us know!