Having said something last week about the probability of the revival of oil-anointing, it will be of some interest to many to know something more about olive oil, than what was contained in the article to which we refer. Olive oil has been long distinguished for its excellent qualities, and it has been used from time immemorial, both as an article of diet and of usefulness as applied to many necessary purposes, by the inhabitants of various countries. The olive tree grows wild and in luxurient grandeur in the Holy Land, and its fruit and the oil derived from it were and are used by all the dwellers in Syria and Ju-dea. The olives of the Greecian Isles have long been famous, and a great quantity of oil is exported from that portion of the world every year. Italy is also famous for its olives and its oil; throughout all the district of La Terra d'Otranta, scarcely anything else is cultivated. The port of Gallipoli in that country from which this oil is exported in great quantities to Germany, France, and England, has given its name to the oil, which is known to many only as Gallipoli oil, and not that produced from the olive The olive tree bears when two years old, but not fully for six years afterwards, when it becomes a source of wealth to its owner. It lives to a great age, three, four, and seven hundred years, and bears abundantly during all that time. There is a celebrated tree in Pescio, in Italy, which is 700 years old, and bears two and three hundred weight of oil yearly. When the fruit is fully ripe, it is gathered mostly by hand and crushed in a mill consisting mostly of a single stone turned in a circular bed. When the pulp is sufficiently crushed it is placed in sacks and heaped on the platform of a press. This pulp is submitted at first to a very low pressure in the press, and the oil so obtained is beautiful and sweet and is of the first quality for table use, and known as ' salad oil.' After the fine oil is extracted, there yet remains a considerable quantity mixed with vegetable albumen.— The bags of pulp are therefore lifted up and into each is poured a small quantity of boiling water. This causes the pulp to swell, the albumen coagulates, and the more fluid oil flows freely. A certain quantity, however, remains in the refuse, which is subject to further treatment, and is principally used for making soap. As soon as the first run of fine oil is obtained, it is conveyed in skins to reservoirs, for future good keeping. The town of Gallipoli being built on a rocky island, is famous for its caverns, where the oil is placed and where it soon clarifies and can be preserved without becoming viscid. The oil is kept for seven years in these caverns, without becoming rancid, and when it has to be shipped, it is carried down in skins, run into casks, and sometimes the oil is sent off in the skins. The fine oil called Florence oil, is brought from Leghorn in bottles, and is of the very first quality. Olive oil is employed for making the castile soap, and it is also much used in the arts of dyeing Turkey-red on cotton, and for oiling wool. Owing to the great quantity of oil sold in our country as olive oil, it is our opinion that there is much deception employed by the sellers of it—that much oil is sold for the pure olive, which is not olive oil at all. We believe that the olive could be cultivated with profit in our southern States, and we hope that some of our planters may be induced to enter upon its culture.
This article was originally published with the title "Olive Oil" in Scientific American 8, 38, 304 (June 1853)