Monthly Archives: May 2015

  • recipe: Olive oil chocolate cupcakes

    For the cupcakes

    Ingredients:
    1 ½ cups all purpose flour
    ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup of warm water
    1 tbsp white vinegar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil

    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 175°C with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
    2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps.
    3. In another bowl, mix together the water, vinegar, vanilla extract and olive oil.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together.
    5. Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full.
    6. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
    7. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.
    8. Decorate as desired with sugar or cocoa-based butter-cream icing.

    For the icing

    Ingredients:
    1 cup salted butter
    ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa
    90g of melted then cooled semi-sweet chocolate
    ½ tsp instant coffee
    1-2 tbsp heavy cream
    3¼-3¾ cups icing sugar

    Method:
    1. Break the chocolate into squares and melt in the microwave, slowly and carefully until they are liquidly smooth. Set aside to cool.
    2. Whip the butter in your mixer until it’s light and fluffy.
    3. Add in the cocoa, beating until combined.
    4. When the chocolate is cool, add it to the butter. Make sure it’s cooled before adding!
    5. Add the instant coffee to one tablespoon of cream, then add to the butter mixture.
    6. Now you can put in the icing sugar one cup at a time, beating until combined.
    7. Adjust the thickness/texture by using another tablespoon of cream, adding it slowly until the texture you want is achieved.

    recipe source

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    For the cupcakes Ingredients: 1 ½ cups all purpose flour ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup of warm water 1 tbsp white vinegar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil Method: 1. Preheat oven... 
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  • Win a trip to Tuscany, Italy with Bertolli Olive Oil and Chef Fabio Viviani

    Today announced the launch of the Bertolli Olive Oil Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest in celebration of the brand’s 150th anniversary.

    The contest is the second in a series of exciting Bertolli activities this year in celebration of 150 years of delicious meals and memorable food moments made better by Bertolli.

    For this 150th anniversary celebration activation, Chef Fabio Viviani and Bertolli Olive Oil are asking food lovers across America to submit their favorite family or original recipe, using Bertolli Olive Oil and/or Bertolli Vinegar, to BertolliOliveOil.

    Tumblr.com for a chance to win the Grand Prize—a culinary trip of a lifetime for two to Tuscany, Italy!

    Bertolli Olive Oil recipe entries will be accepted in five categories: Appetizers, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups/Salads and Desserts.

    Recipe instructions and ingredients along with video or photo should be submitted to BertolliOliveOil.Tumblr.com no later than July 31, 2015 at 11:59pm PST.
    Creative cooks can find full contest rules at the Tumblr main page.

    Fantastico Prizes to Be Won!
    Chef Fabio Viviani will judge the top recipe submissions in each of the five categories based on creativity, presentation, ease of replication and clarity.

    Five recipe category winners will each receive a KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series Stand Mixer in Champagne Gold, a year’s supply of Bertolli Olive Oil and a signed copy of Fabio Viviani’s latest cookbook Fabio’s American Home Kitchen.

    One Grand Prize winner, selected from the five category winners, will also receive a dream trip for two to Tuscany with a helicopter ride over the Italian countryside, a hands-on cooking class, and a hunt for the perfect truffle!

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    Rating: +7 (from 13 votes)
    Today announced the launch of the Bertolli Olive Oil Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest in celebration of the brand’s 150th anniversary. The contest is the second in a series of exciting Bertolli activities this year in celebration of 150 years of delicious meals and memorable... 
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  • Recipe: Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

    Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

    INGREDIENTS
    •  ¼ cup Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
    •  8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    •  ¾ cup granulated sugar
    •  2 large eggs
    •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    •  ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    •  2 teaspoons espresso powder
    • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
    •  1 cup fresh raspberries
    •  ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
    •  coarse or flaked sea salt for finishing

    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    2. Line a 8x8inch brownie pan with parchment paper, allowing excess paper to hang over 2 sides of the pan, making the brownies easier to remove. Spray the pan and paper with nonstick cooking spray.

    3. In a medium, heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, warm the olive oil and bittersweet chocolate together over low heat, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

    4. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth and glossy. Add the flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt and whisk until the batter again becomes smooth and shiny.

    5.Scrape the batter into the prepared brownie pan and sprinkle with raspberries, pecans (if using), and a small amount of flaked sea salt. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cooked through but still gooey.

    6. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with another sprinkling of sea salt!

    recipe source

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    Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies INGREDIENTS •  ¼ cup Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil •  8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped •  ¾ cup granulated sugar •  2 large eggs •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract •  ¼ cup all-purpose flour •  2... 
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  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil In Diet Help Keep The Mind Sharp

    Adding more EVO (extra virgin olive oil) or nuts to a Mediterranean diet, one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains and low in red meat may help keep your mind sharper as you age, a new study suggests.

    The Spanish researchers found that seniors following such diets had greater improvements in thinking and memory than people who were simply advised to eat a lower-fat diet.

    “You can delay the onset of age-related mental decline with a healthy diet rich in foods with a high antioxidant power, such as virgin olive oil and nuts,” said lead researcher Dr. Emilio Ros, director of the lipid clinic at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

    “Because the average age of participants was 67 when the trial began, one can say that it is never too late to change your diet to maintain or even improve brain function,” he said.

    This report was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

    Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said, “The general heart-healthy and brain-healthy effects of eating less beef and more chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables has been validated to the point that I now recommend this general Mediterranean diet to all my patients.”

    Both EVO and nuts have been associated with mental benefit in other studies, he added. “So, these findings are not so much a surprise as a reminder that there is more to the Mediterranean diet than meat, fruits and vegetables, and that calling out specific recommendations to include olive oil and nuts is probably worthwhile,” Dr. Gandy said.

    For the study, Dr. Ros and colleagues collected data on nearly 450 older adults between Ys 2003 and 2009. Their average age was 67. All of the participants were at high risk for heart disease, but had no reported problems with memory or thinking.

    Participants were randomly assigned to add a liter (about 33 oz) of extra virgin olive oil per week to their Mediterranean diet, or to supplement their Mediterranean diet with 30 grams (roughly 1 oz) per day of a mixture of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Others followed a low-fat diet.

    Mental changes over time were assessed with a battery of memory, attention and thinking tests. Complete data on almost 350 patients was available for analysis, the researchers said. The participants followed the diets for 4 years, on average, according to the study.

    In both groups following a Mediterranean diet, the researchers saw improvements in tests of memory and thinking compared to the group on the low-fat diet, the study showed.

    Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City, explained that “healthy fats from foods like nuts and olive oil play crucial roles in brain function and health.”

    The Big Q: How might a Mediterranean diet that includes extra olive oil or nuts help?

    The big A: One way might be by protecting the nerve cells in the brain, suggested Ms. Heller, who was not involved with the study.

    Every one of the nerve cells in the human brain is surrounded by an ultra-thin layer of fat and protein called the myelin sheath, she explained.

    The myelin sheath protects the nerve structure and helps nerve cell interaction. The brain gets its fats to make and maintain the myelin sheath from the foods people eat. The healthier the foods and fats, the healthier the brain, Ms. Heller said.

    Oleic acid is one of the most prevalent fats in the myelin sheath, she said. “Olive oil, almonds, pecans, macadamias, peanuts and avocados are all good sources of this fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for brain health and are found in fish, walnuts and soy foods.

    These healthy fats have been shown to improve mental function and brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

    Ms. Heller suggested cooking with olive oil, snacking on a handful of almonds instead of a bag of chips, and adding vegetables to pasta in place of meatballs.

    Eat healthy, Be healthy.

    article source

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    Adding more EVO (extra virgin olive oil) or nuts to a Mediterranean diet, one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains and low in red meat may help keep your mind sharper as you age, a new study suggests. The Spanish researchers found that seniors following such diets... 
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  • For the first time, the California State Fair honored olive oil producers

    The Olive Press of Sonoma won Best in Show for its Sevillano extra virgin olive oil and took home top honors at the California State Fair’s inaugural olive oil competition.

    The Olive Press Sevillano extra virgin olive oil won Best in Show in the commercial competition, added this year to the State Fair’s roster of agricultural contests. The Olive Press also won divisional awards for both the Sevillano and its citrus-infused Blood Orange olive oil plus four gold medals, three silvers and a bronze.

    “We are thrilled to win Best of Show at the inaugural California State Fair olive oil competition,” said Nancy Cline, owner of The Olive Press. “Our goal is to support the growth of the California olive oil industry, and being a part of more competitions in state, especially statewide fairs, is huge for the olive oil community.”

    So far in 2015, The Olive Press has won 62 medals for its oils.

    Results of the State Fair olive oil judging were released Tuesday. The Best of Show winners will be honored June 23 on the steps of the State Capitol. In addition, several of the winning oils will be part of the upcoming “Best of California” tasting event (details to be announced) as well as tastings at a new olive oil exhibit at the State Fair, which runs July 10-26 at Cal Expo.

    Judging was held May 7 in the clubhouse of Cal Expo’s main grandstand. The contest was open to commercial oils, using only olives grown, processed and packed in California.

    Among the flavored oils, Nick Sciabica & Sons of Modesto won the top prize for its jalapeño extra virgin olive oil. For a complete list of winners, click here.

    Olive oil ranks among the state’s oldest agricultural products, but is also among California’s fastest growing agricultural industries, thanks to America’s current appetite for olive oil. Half of all American cooks now consider olive oil a staple. Almost all olive oil produced in the United States is California grown.

    “It was an honor to work on this inaugural California State Fair olive oil competition,” said Alexandra Devarenne, the contest’s chief judge. “Mother Nature sent the California olive oil producers a difficult year, but they rose to the challenge. We tasted many outstanding extra virgin olive oils that showcased the skills of the farmer and the miller, resulting in complex and delicious California olive oils that will be a joy to use at the table.”

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    The Olive Press of Sonoma won Best in Show for its Sevillano extra virgin olive oil and took home top honors at the California State Fair’s inaugural olive oil competition. The Olive Press Sevillano extra virgin olive oil won Best in Show in the commercial competition, added... 
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  • Olive oil shortage is a pressing issue, say experts

    Lovers of olive oil could face the prospect of supplies of their favourite cooking oil being rationed, experts have warned.

    For poor harvests in Spain and Italy have fuelled warnings from olive oil industry experts of a massive shortfall in supplies reaching the market, the latest research shows.

    Trade magazine The Grocer reported that cooking oil prices are on a slippery slope. Data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that although volumes have risen a healthy 2.5 per cent over the past year, value is down 2.8 per cent due in part to the ongoing price war raging in grocery.

    But The Grocer says that while many categories are feeling its effect, the price war has come at a particularly difficult time for olive oil players.

    Retail prices have been squeezed due to hard promotional tactics and now costs are escalating as a result of poor harvests, leaving some in the industry to speculate about the likelihood of supply rationing in the future.

    • The cost of olive oil is increasing – will stocking up now save me money?
    • Is there really a prosecco shortage?

    Walter Zanre, UK managing director of Filippo Berio, told The Grocer: ” If there were to be another bad harvest next year I think we would have the prospect of rationing people in terms of supply.

    “In 15 years in this business this is the worst year I have seen. There is not enough oil to meet demand. Sourcing good quality extra virgin in the second half of the year will be very difficult.”

    Volume is up year on year with High Street shoppers putting more oil into their basket each trip.

    But the report shows that the oils category value decline is driven solely by Britain’s shoppers paying a lower price per litre as the big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – cut prices in response to competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl.

    Mr Zanre said: “The discounters are really having a big impact on olive oil. They are taking a larger share and the big four are reacting, so the natural result is deflation all round.”

    While the big four lost ground in the category, there was growth of 16.1 per cent for Lidl and 7.3 per cent for Aldi, who between them accounted for 9.6 per cent of category value sales.

    • Olive oil on salad may save your life
    • What To Eat Now: Olive oil from ‘stressed’ trees

    According to the International Olive Oil Council, there will be a shortfall of 783,000 tonnes this year when measured against the average global production of the past five years.

    Poor harvests in Spain and Italy, where a wet summer led to olive fly and fungal attack, are the main reasons for the fall.

    The Grocer says the implications for suppliers and their customers are potentially serious, Despite the prospect of limited supplies, restoring value will be tough for olive oil and the other two main oils —-sunflower and vegetable.

    While volumes of sunflower oil have increased by 6.6 per cent over the past year, those for vegetable and extra-virgin olive oils have fallen – suggesting that some consumers are trading down to cheaper varieties.

    The report says that value is being added by the strong growth of rapeseed and specialty oils such as coconut but these oils remain a small part of the category.

    For oils to recover overall, there will need to be a step change for olive, vegetable and sunflower.

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    Lovers of olive oil could face the prospect of supplies of their favourite cooking oil being rationed, experts have warned. For poor harvests in Spain and Italy have fuelled warnings from olive oil industry experts of a massive shortfall in supplies reaching the market, the... 
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  • Olive oil wholesale prices in Europe on 22 may 2015

    According to President and Chief panel ONAOO Marcello Scoccia, this week recorded pricing increase that affects all types and origins, stable but tending downward on the Italianorigin extra virgin. Remains stable the price of refined olive oils.

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    According to President and Chief panel ONAOO Marcello Scoccia, this week recorded pricing increase that affects all types and origins, stable but tending downward on the Italianorigin extra virgin. Remains stable the price of refined olive oils.Source VN:F [1.9.22_1171]please... 
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  • Over 97% of foods in EU contain pesticide residues within legal limits

    More than 97% of food samples evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contain pesticide residue levels that fall within legal limits, with just under 55% of samples free of detectable traces of these chemicals. The findings are part of EFSA’s 2013 annual report on pesticide residues in food, which includes the results for almost 81,000 food samples from 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.

    The 29 reporting countries carry out two monitoring programmes for the report: a national programme designed by each country, and an EU-coordinated programme under which all food control authorities monitor the same “basket” of food products. A combined total of 80,967 samples of a wide variety of processed and unprocessed food products were tested for the presence of 685 pesticides. The main findings are:

    – 97.4% of the samples analysed fell within legal limits;
    – 54.6% were free of detectable residues;
    – 1.5% clearly exceeded the legal limits, taking into account the measurement uncertainty, thus triggering legal or administrative sanctions against the food business operators responsible;
    – residues of more than one pesticide (multiple residues) were found in 27.3% of samples.

    The majority of samples (68.2%) were taken from food originating in Europe, with 27.7% coming from food imported from third countries. The percentage of samples from third countries exceeding legal limits was higher (5.7%) than for EU countries (1.4%). However, exceedance rates for imported food have fallen by nearly two percentage points (from 7.5%) since 2012.

    For the EU co-ordinated programme, the reporting states tested 11,582 samples from 12 food products – apples, head cabbage, leek, lettuce, peaches, rye, oats, strawberries, tomatoes, cow’s milk, swine meat and wine. The results showed that 99.1% of the samples contained residue levels within permissible limits and almost 53% contained no measurable residues.

    Compared with the results for 2010, when the same food products – excluding wine – were tested, the percentage of samples exceeding the legal limits has fallen for all food products tested.

    EFSA used the data from the EU co-ordinated programme to assess whether current dietary exposure to pesticide residues presented a risk to human health in the long term (chronic) or short term (acute). The Authority concluded that the presence of pesticide residues in food was unlikely to have a long-term effect on consumer health. For short-term exposure, the risk of European citizens being exposed to harmful levels of residues via their diet was rated as low.

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    More than 97% of food samples evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contain pesticide residue levels that fall within legal limits, with just under 55% of samples free of detectable traces of these chemicals. The findings are part of EFSA’s 2013 annual report... 
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  • Allied Market Research forecasts the global flavours market

    A new report by Allied Market Research forecasts the global flavours market to reach $15.2bn by 2020 at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2015 to 2020. In 2014 the natural flavours segment took over the lead to hold the majority of share in terms of value. Strong demand for organic processed food and beverages remained the major growth thrust for the natural flavours market segment. The growth outlook for natural flavours remains strong, but synthetic flavours may witness negative growth.

    Demand for organic and healthy food products, changing consumer preferences, introduction of new and enhanced flavours, and demand growth of processed food products has been instrumental in the growth of flavours market. Further, expanding purchasing powers, changes in eating habits, hectic work schedules and improper diets would supplement the market growth. To the contrary, factors such as stringent food safety regulations and few adverse effects on human health would pose a major challenge for the market growth. However, natural flavours have been able to address such concerns and would be growing further on this account.

    North America currently is the largest consumer of natural flavours. However, by 2020, Asia-Pacific will catch up and marginally lead the natural flavours market segment. In addition, the developing and advance developing nations would render the faster growth for the natural flavours market. Nevertheless, North America and Europe will continue to hold over half of the revenue share for natural flavours segment till 2020. Despite overall negative growth in synthetic flavours market, the outlook will remain slightly positive in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Asia-Pacific will remain the largest market for synthetic flavours by 2020.

    The flavoured beverage product segment is the largest in terms of revenue, closely followed by the bakery and confectionery, and savoury and snacks flavour segments.

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    A new report by Allied Market Research forecasts the global flavours market to reach $15.2bn by 2020 at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2015 to 2020. In 2014 the natural flavours segment took over the lead to hold the majority of share in terms of value. Strong demand for organic processed... 
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  • How much salt to conserve table olives?

    A recent online article in Mumbai reported on containers of olives being held up at customs at ports around the country due to irregularities concerning the amount of salt in the brine solution being used to preserve the olives. The article cited national and Codex standards.

    The Codex Standard for Table Olives was revised in 2013 to harmonise provisions with the corresponding International Olive Council (IOC) Standard for Table Olives. The two standards can be considered as the international standards that should be used as references for international trade in table olives and olive products in general.

    For treated olives the minimum sodium chloride (salt) content is 5.0% in both standards and for other types of olives it is even higher (Natural olives 6%; Dehydrated and/or shrivelled olives 8%). The minimum salt content for pasteurised treated and natural olives is however governed by GMP (good manufacturing practices) as the olives are pasteurised to contain microbial growth/contamination and so the salt content in the brine should be less in comparison with other types of table olives.

    In such cases, trade partners therefore decide bilaterally the most suitable physico-chemical characteristics of the packing brine.

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    A recent online article in Mumbai reported on containers of olives being held up at customs at ports around the country due to irregularities concerning the amount of salt in the brine solution being used to preserve the olives. The article cited national and Codex standards. The... 
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  • Tunis olive oil exports reached 186 thousand tons by end April 2015

    Olive oil exports have reached 186 thousand tonnes (including 8.1 thousand tons packaged) from November 2014 to the end of April 2015 with a value of 1,139 million Tunisian dinars (1€ = 2 TD) against exports of 26 thousand tons in the same period last year.

    According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, the olive oil exports, which started in November 2014, are ongoing.

    Regarding the general situation of olive groves and its impact on the prospects for production in the 2014-2015 season, the same source said the season was rainy in winter and spring in different production areas and on uneven periods which had a positive impact on the health situation of olive groves and advanced the maturity of trees.

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    Olive oil exports have reached 186 thousand tonnes (including 8.1 thousand tons packaged) from November 2014 to the end of April 2015 with a value of 1,139 million Tunisian dinars (1€ = 2 TD) against exports of 26 thousand tons in the same period last year. According to data... 
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  • Twist Open & Pour Olive Oil...Twist Close & Store!

    The first ever Olive Oil, Liquor, Wine, pourer which you twists the cap to pour, twist to close. No Fruit flies, no evaporation. Bartenders no longer have to cover up their open liquor bottles. Pouro prevents fruit flies in open liquor bottles;

    A MUST for every Bar/Nightclub, or anyone serving Liquor. Our Olive Oil Pouro are a huge success as we are selling to hundreds of Olive oil distributors and manufactures as the Pouro pours the Olive oil without spilling or mess!

    Pouro is a perfect marketing Tool for All liquor manufactures who want to increase their on premises sales as we can add their brand name to the cap of the Pouro for advertising in the bars.
    Bartenders cannot get enough pouro and if you provide pouro with your brand name they will use those in all their bottles which will help promote your product.

    For retail sales by adding a custom engraved/printed Pourer with your brand name will hugely increase your retail sales; Customers go right for the bottle with the printed pouro to buy your product first just to get the Pourer.

    Pouro comes in 12 pcs and 144 pcs bar bags and for Retailers wanting to carry Pouro we have a special 3 pcs retail package that will fly off the shelf. For larger orders they come in 1200 pcs cases.

    Contact the staff at Advanced pouring solutions if you are a Bar/Nightclub, Liquor manufacture, olive oil manufacture wanting to stop fruit flies in your bar of Retail Pouro or if you wish to brand your name on the Pouro to increase.

    Contact European distributor for Pouro:
    Klaus P. Kruse
    Karl Kruse GmbH & Co KG
    Bruchweg 109
    41564 Kaarst, Germany
    Office: 02131 981410
    Fax: 02131 981413
    http://www.kruse.de

    Din EN ISO 9001:2008 certified company

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    The first ever Olive Oil, Liquor, Wine, pourer which you twists the cap to pour, twist to close. No Fruit flies, no evaporation. Bartenders no longer have to cover up their open liquor bottles. Pouro prevents fruit flies in open liquor bottles; A MUST for every Bar/Nightclub,... 
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  • Walk by Martin Hesp in southern Italy to taste delicious extra virgin olive oils

    At more than 2,500 years old, the gnarled tree in the photograph is the oldest living thing serving mankind anywhere in the world. It was regarded as venerable when the Romans were picking olives from its branches long before Jesus Christ was born.

    It still bears a modest crop today and there will be a fraction of its fruit in the bottle of extra virgin olive oil I now have in my kitchen.

    Climate change may one day mean that we will be able to grow and produce one of the finest cooking ingredients known to mankind. Indeed, there are those in warmer parts of the region who do now grow a handful of olives but, as far as I know, no one local has started making, bottling and selling commercial quantities of the fabulous oil. Yes, we could restrict our cooking fats to local butter and British rapeseed oil, but anyone who loves first-class West Country foods like our vegetables and fish will sooner or later reach for a slurp of the health-giving, life-reaffirming juice of the olive. So, if we keen cooks have to use it, why not set out to find the best? That is what my friend Concezio, of Discovery Puglia (www.discoverypuglia.com), asked the other day when he invited me to join a trip to Puglia in south-east Italy, where they claim to make the finest extra virgin olive oil in the world. No doubt producers in other areas might argue with this, but they would be hard-pushed to claim that they’ve been at the olive oil production game for longer than the Apulians.

    The farmer who sold the bottle of extra virgin to me had some of his trees carbon-dated by scientists, so he knows how astonishingly old they are, but he told me he always knew the grove was planted in Roman times.

    However, the really old tree at the Masseria Brancati farm – the one they call The Grand Old Man – is even older than the rest. Agronomists know this because most of the grove is laid out in the grid system the Romans invented – but the Grand Old Man is not.

    Farmer Corrado Rodio told me: “My family has been here for over 200 years and we’ve always been in olive oil production. We specialise in only making extra virgin. There are lots of different varieties of olives – in Italy we have over 500 – but in what we call the ‘monument’ olive grove there are two old varieties.

    “If a Roman centurion tasted my olive oil, it would be the same as he knew. But, we have two different ways of making oil – the old way with a mill and a press – and in a modern mill.

    “If we use the mill and the press the oil will be similar to the Romans’. But I prefer the modern mill because the oil is perfect.

    “I love everything that is old, but admit the modern way does make a nicer taste.”

    This is a theme you will hear time and again as you tour the olive farms located in an almost biblical-looking setting between the hills and the Adriatic Sea in the fertile part of central Puglia between Bari and Brindisi.

    The area is called Salento and much of it is known as the Monumental Olive Groves Natural Park.

    There is, obviously, much art and skill in actually growing the olives, or at least in nurturing the trees, but the harvesting and – even more important – extracting the oil, does call for modern technology.

    Which brings us to those words “extra virgin”. Even the lowest budget supermarkets sell bottles of stuff with these words on the label, but the industrially produced oils are entirely different to the marvel we’re talking about here. Many are produced from low quality oil that has been bought in from goodness knows where and which has been subjected to various chemical processes. What you get in a classic bottle of Apulian extra virgin is nothing but crushed olive, minus the water and solids.

    At Corrado’s farm we tasted the oil and he told me about the harvesting, which is done in late October: “There is a mechanical elevator that we use to harvest the olives directly from the branches – and for the extra virgin they have to be pressed the same day, within a couple of hours. We produce 6,000 to 7,000 litres of extra virgin olive a year. The olives have got to be a little bit green and a little bit black – in this way we produce much less, but the quality is better.”

    The hundreds of other farms and groves around his farm combine to create what could be described as a massive olive tree forest – one which, for the most part, is carefully tended so you can see the rich red earth between the trees.

    This work is more important now than ever because of a bacteria killing olive trees all around the Mediterranean area. Carried by a kind of ciccada, it flourishes in the warm, damp undergrowth that grows up if the groves are not tended properly. Touch olive-wood, it has yet to reach Northern Salento, but there is a race on as scientists attempt to find a deterrent or cure.

    In the meantime, the extra virgin industry around the town of Ostuni flourishes and you can tour the area enjoying tastings of the greenish liquid gold, rather like you would in a wine-growing region.

    Some of the oil will be delicate, some fruity, verging on sweet, and some a little bitter and peppery. Needless to say the Italians are brilliant at utilising each and marrying them with ideal partners or dishes.

    However, if we are going to all the expense of buying top quality extra virgin olive oil in this country the best way to use it is straight from the bottle, uncooked.

    Frying a slice of bacon in this stuff would be like using a Rolls Royce to round up sheep.

    Salads are the obvious target zone, but try pouring a little over a sizzling fillet of fish or a chicken breast.

    It goes particularly well with dishes that do not scream with flavour like, for instance, a fast-made fricassee of quality green or Puy lentils with onions and garlic that you are going to serve as a simple lunch or supper with spaghetti.

    Having completed the cooking of both, mix the lentils with the pasta and, only then, pour on a good few glugs of extra virgin seconds before serving.

    Using quality extra virgin olive oil like this can make an expensive bottle go a long way. And it will bring extra value to many of those amazing West Country ingredients that we love so much.

    Recipe: Focaccia
    My ancestors who ran a successful West Country bakery for decades would probably turn in their graves at the idea, but adding big glugs of extra virgin olive oil certainly works wonders and creates a Mediterranean-style loaf a lot more savoury than a traditional English white sliced.

    Puglia is regarded as the home of one of the most unctuous and oily breads of the lot – focaccia. Each area has a different idea when it comes to a recipe for this savoury masterpiece – the Bari focaccia contains tomatoes, the Altamura version has onions and olives, while the one made in Lecce is plain. But durum wheat flour, proper yeast, water, oil and salt are the basis from which most of these variations are developed.

    Ingredients for a 700g focaccia
    500g of durum wheat flour; one thimble-sized lump of proper baker’s yeast; 10tblspns of extra virgin olive oil; 1tspn salt; 1tspn sugar; 300ml of lukewarm water; 20 small tomatoes; oregano

    Method
    Put flour in a bowl, add the tablespoonfuls of oil, the yeast dissolved in half a glass of lukewarm water, the salt and sugar. Mix and knead, adding water little by little until you have a smooth dough. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for three hours.

    Place the dough in a rectangular, oiled baking tin (20 x 30 cm) pressing it down with fingertips without flattening it too much.

    Leave it to rise for an hour more. Finally take the focaccia and place the halved tomatoes on top, pushing them into the dough. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and oregano and bake at 180°C for 30-35 minutes. For a more crusty focaccia, cook it at 200°C for the first ten minutes and then lower the heat to 180°C.

    Article by Martin Hesp source

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    At more than 2,500 years old, the gnarled tree in the photograph is the oldest living thing serving mankind anywhere in the world. It was regarded as venerable when the Romans were picking olives from its branches long before Jesus Christ was born. It still bears a modest crop... 
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  • The Taste of Olive Oil and Thyme in Syria

    It was a long night of tension and fear. We spent it in darkness, hiding with other residents of our neighbourhood as a storm of shelling and explosions raged around us.

    A woman sat wailing and screaming in the corner of the house. Her leg had been hit by shrapnel from a projectile that had landed close to our house. The men could do nothing to ease her pain. There was no way to take her to receive the medical care she needed because of the random shelling and the many snipers positioned on the rooftops around us.

    Umm Hussam, my mother in-law, was always prepared for such predicaments. She kept a first aid kit with her at all times. She approached the woman, calmed her down and began cleaning and stitching up her wound, even though she had never done such a procedure before. With luck, that poor woman would then be able to rest.

    Finally, morning came and the bombardment eased off enough to allow us to get out of the city and head for safety. But our mother-in-law refused to leave immediately, in spite of the dangers all around. Instead, she went to collect some food rations she had stockpiled at home to ensure her husband and children did not go hungry. She never once thought of herself and the risk she was putting herself at by standing in the kitchen, exposed to snipers watching for any movement.

    Although her children were pleading with her to leave the kitchen and get into the car, she reassured them that she would be fine. Umm Hussam only emerged once she had found enough food to sustain her extended family for at least ten days.

    At first, we did not realise the importance of what she had done. At that moment, we did not think the food was necessary. Carrying everything that Umm Hussam had brought for us, we rushed out of the house and made our way out of the city, until by the grace of God we found refuge.

    This house was safe, but it was nothing like our home. There were no internal doors, nothing to divide the men from the women or allow a family of a dozen adults and children some privacy or quiet.

    In one corner, I found a piece of blue fabric which turned out to be an old tent left behind by the owner of the house. My delight at finding somewhere more private to sleep was short-lived, as the landlady returned to retrieve the tent. It was not part of the furniture she had rented to us.

    By nightfall, we were all very hungry. There was no electricity and it was impossible for anyone to leave the house to find food. Only then did we realise the importance of the supplies that we left the house with. We finally understood how wise Umm Hussam had been. Our mother-in-law had risked her life to salvage things for difficult times like these.

    We went into the kitchen and prepared delicious olive oil and thyme sandwiches. The taste made me feel safe and happy. I realised then the importance of listening to our elders. I realised the importance of olive oil and thyme.

    Two months after we were displaced, Umm Hussam died. May your soul rest in peace, our mother-in-law Umm Hussam.

    This story was produced by the Damascus Bureau, IWPR’s news platform for Syrian journalists. source

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    It was a long night of tension and fear. We spent it in darkness, hiding with other residents of our neighbourhood as a storm of shelling and explosions raged around us. A woman sat wailing and screaming in the corner of the house. Her leg had been hit by shrapnel from a projectile... 
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  • So What Exactly Is the Mediterranean Diet?

    It sounds almost too good to be true: A diet that has been shown to increase longevity and help to stabilize blood sugars, reduce “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of several diseases—and that has enough variety and enough delicious foods that you’re actually happy to follow it.

    In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that “an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

    There’s no “official” Mediterranean Diet—the term refers to the traditional foods and dishes from the countries along the Mediterranean Sea, circling from Spain and southern Europe all the way across North Africa to Morocco. The cuisines of these countries focus on vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes (like chickpeas or lentils), and fish:

    Think fragrant vegetable and lamb stews from Morocco or Turkey, creamy hummus and flatbreads from Israel, Lebanese tabbouleh, Greek-style chicken roasted with rosemary and lemon stuffed in the cavity, pasta primavera or marinara, and paella laden with a variety of fish and shellfish.

    Foods are seasoned with aromatic spices, fresh herbs, and garlic rather than only with salt. Portions are often small, but many dishes may be served with the idea that they will be shared—think Spanish tapas, Italian antipasti, or the mezze platters of Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East.

    What Foods Are Forbidden?

    Although no foods are off-limits, certain foods appear less frequently or look different from their American counterparts. Countries along the Mediterranean are often mountainous or arid, so the terrain and climate aren’t suited to grazing cattle. As a result, beef and dairy foods from cow’s milk are rare. Rather than butter, for example, the primary fat is olive oil; yogurt and cheeses are traditionally made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. Authentic Italian-style pizzas have thin crusts, with a light dusting of cheese and minimal meat, rather than stuffed crusts, extra cheese, and several types of meat.

    A few tips to making the most of the Mediterranean diet:

    1 Watch portion sizes. If you love pasta, measure out a serving based on the Nutrition Facts label on the box. (In general, a one-pound box of dry pasta provides eight servings. If you cook for four people and your family usually eats one box at a meal, remember to double the information on the label.)

    2 Limit high-fat foods. Opt for clear sauces (based on broth or wine) or veggie-based ones like tomato sauce, rather than creamy Alfredo or carbonara. Nuts and olives are a large part of the Mediterranean diet, but they are high in fat and should be eaten in moderate amounts—about a handful a day is enough to reap their benefits.

    3 Think calcium. Because milk isn’t a big part of the Mediterranean diet, be sure to get adequate calcium from low-fat yogurt or leafy greens, or talk to your doctor about supplements.

    Article source

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    It sounds almost too good to be true: A diet that has been shown to increase longevity and help to stabilize blood sugars, reduce “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of several diseases—and that has enough variety and enough delicious... 
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  • 6 out of 11 Extra Virgin Olive Oil products mislabeled, says NCL report

    Results recently released by the US National Consumers League(NCL) have shown that six out of 11 olive oils tested failed to meet International Oil Council(IOC) standards of extra virgin quality.

    In January, the NCL purchased the eleven different varieties of olive oil, all labeled extra virgin, from four major Washington area retailers (Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Giant).

    The oils were then tested by Australian Oil Research Laboratories to see if they met the IOC’s extra virgin standards, and the results showed only five of the selected were true extra virgin.

    Olive oil is traditionally classified based on based on their chemistry, flavor profile, and presence of defects, with extra virgin, the highest classification possible, not having any defects.

    Several other sources have done research on mislabeled extra virgin olive oil in the past. In July of 2010, the UC Davis Olive Center released a report showing that 69 % of imported olive oils labeled as extra virgin failed the IOC sensory standards, and in September of 2012,

    Consumer Reports published results of its testing of extra virgin-labeled samples, showing that only 9 of 23 met the standards. Some states, such as California, have adopted stricter labeling and grading standards in response to these revelations.

    Sally Greenberg, executive director of the NCL, notes that in addition to mislabeling, degradation throughout the shipping and storage process could be responsible for the results. “When that happens, consumers are paying top dollar for that EVOO label without getting the enhanced health and taste benefits,” she explains.

    The NCL informed the six companies whose oils failed the tests about the results without publishing their names to “to give them an opportunity to address the situation that their oils are not reaching consumer shelves as represented.”

    Article by WholeFoods Magazine Staffsource

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    Results recently released by the US National Consumers League(NCL) have shown that six out of 11 olive oils tested failed to meet International Oil Council(IOC) standards of extra virgin quality. In January, the NCL purchased the eleven different varieties of olive oil, all labeled... 
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  • Erm'olea wins Gold Aristion Award

    Erm’olea wins Gold Gold Aristion Award as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (middle fruity) at 7th Aristion 2015 Internasional Olive Oil Competition which held in Greece one month ago.

    The purpose of the Aristion competition was the promotion of the diversity of varieties and of the high quality of olive oils produced with the aim of advancing the knowledge of their tasting differences.ErmOlea-gold-award-ariston-greece-s

    Erm’olea Extra Virgin Olive Oil cultivated in magical Ermionida-Kranidi of Greece and is  a P.D.O. (protected designation of origin) PRODUCT.

    Erm’olea produced by Poulis Anastasios under Certifications:
    – ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
    – IFS (International Featured Standards)
    – BRS (British Retail Consortium)
    – ΔΗΩ Control & certification organization for biological products

    Erm’olea produce:
    – Organic extra virgin olive oil
    – Premium extra virgin olive oil

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    Contact Erm’Olea
    Address:Kranidi, Argolis, Greece
    GPS:37.3805109, 23.160212300000012
    Telephone:(+30)27540 22 224, (+30)6973 313 343
    Email: info@ermolea.com
    Website:www.ermolea.com

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    Erm’olea wins Gold Gold Aristion Award as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (middle fruity) at 7th Aristion 2015 Internasional Olive Oil Competition which held in Greece one month ago. The purpose of the Aristion competition was the promotion of the diversity of varieties and of... 
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