One of the things I love the most about working in the food industry is finding out the stories behind the produce. In Australia we are so lucky to have so many passionate producers and farmers on our doorstep and I love discovering the stories behind them and the produce’s story from paddock to plate.
Squeaky Gate Growers Co. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of those brands with a unique story to tell and is currently the fastest growing Australian olive oil brand. An Australian owned and grown extra virgin olive oil range, Squeaky Gate follows the Australian olive harvest from grower to grower, along the way fostering a real sense of community and connection between the olive growers and Australian consumers. Squeaky Gate supports Australian olive oil farmers with an avenue to sell their high quality olive oil, and provides consumers with the ‘pick of the crop’ from Aussie farms.
Their range includes three different extra virgin olive oils so there’s an olive oil for all tastes, recipes and occasions. The Mild One is great for seafood, summer salads and baking, The All Rounder is best suited for pastas, white meat and salads, while The Strong One is perfect for richer and ‘heartier meals. The oils are available in assorted sizes from 375ml to 4 litres. The 750ml is also available with a 360° pop-up pourer, delivering a smooth, drip free pour from all angles.
I have always loved using olive oil for cooking and have been aware of its many health benefits, but I have to admit I didn’t know much about the complexity of olive oil production and its versatility. Here are some interesting facts I have discovered recently:
OLIVE OIL IS SEASONAL
Contrary to popular opinion, olives are only harvested once a year, in winter. In Australia olive oil is harvested in winter, while in the Australian summer, European olive oils are produced, around November.
OLIVE OIL CAN DETERIORATE
When it comes to olive oil, heat and light are not friends and can cause the olive oil to deteriorate. This makes correct storage essential! Avoid storing olive oil above your stovetop since it attracts a lot of heat. Olive oil is best stored in a cool, dark place, keeping it fresher for longer. It is best enjoyed fresh after opening and should keep up to three months.
OLIVE OIL IS A GREAT SUBSTITUTE FOR BUTTER IN COOKING AND BAKING
Whether you’re looking to bake a cake or dress a salad, olive oil is such a versatile ingredient in cooking. Do not think that you can not use Extra Virgin olive oils in cooking as this is simply not true and different flavour intensities and flavours can really enhance your meals.
OLIVE OIL IS FULL OF HEALTH BENEFITS
It’s naturally high in healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols which helps to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. It is also full of antioxidant vitamins A and E. These powerful antioxidants have many scientifically proven health benefits linked to improvements in inflammation, weight control, cholesterol, digestion and anti-ageing.
OLIVE OIL CAN BE USED TO PRESERVE FOOD
Olive oil is perfect for preserving the freshness of food. Just pour a touch of extra virgin olive oil on the surface before sealing the container.
OLIVE OIL IS A DIABETES DETERRENT
Some research has shown that consuming extra virgin olive oil may help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes since it helps regulate and balance insulin levels. Of course this must be in accordance with a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
OLIVE OIL CAN REDUCE THE RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Recent studies have found that the oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and overall cognitive decline.
THE REAL MEANING OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Extra virgin is the name given to the first extraction or cold pressing of the olives during production. The result is a rich, fruity and deep-flavoured oil – the delicious and natural juice of fresh olives; think of it like orange juice, EVOO is essentially the same thing – just the juice of the olive!
Here’s a fun recipe for olive oil cake (adapted from Donna Hay’s Madeira Cake) to get you started.
- ¾ CUP (180ML) SQUEAKY GATE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
- 2 EGGS
- 1 TABLESPOON FINELY GRATED ORANGE RIND
- ¼ CUP (60ML) ORANGE JUICE
- 1 CUP (280G) NATURAL GREEK-STYLE (THICK) YOGHURT
- 1½ CUPS (330G) CASTER (SUPERFINE) SUGAR
- 2 CUPS (300G) SELF-RAISING (SELF-RISING) FLOUR
- DRIED STORE-BOUGHT ORANGE SLICES, TO SERVE
- Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the oil, eggs, rind, juice, yoghurt and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Sift over the flour and stir until smooth.
- Pour into a lightly greased 10cm x 20cm loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper and cook for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool in the tin, then remove and place on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, place the sugar and boiling water in a small bowl and mix to combine. Spoon over the icing while the cake is still warm and set aside for 10 minutes to set. Top with the orange slices to serve. Serves 10–12.
Squeaky Gate Olive Oils are available nationally at Coles, Woolworths and other independent retailers.
For more information and olive oil recipe inspiration visit http://www.squeakygate.com.au.