- Information about Spanish Olives
- The Olive tree and its fruit the Olive
- How to obtain Olive Oil
- Oil Qualities and Oil Quality
- Classification of Olive Oils
- Interesting Facts
The olive tree belongs to the Oleaceae family and has a life span of around 300- 400 years. The precise origins of the olive tree are shrouded in doubt, Persia, Jordan, the Valleys of the Nile each have their advocates. The best that we can say with certainty is that cultivation began a very long time ago in the near East and spread slowly westward to Spain along the shores of the Mediterranean. All major civilisations of the Mediterranean have played a part in the dissemination of the olive throughout the region: Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. The first olive trees were traced in Spain in the time of the Phoenicians.
CULTIVATION OF OLIVES – HARVESTING AND PROCESSING
For the olive oil to travel from the tree to your table, it has to travel through various multi-faceted and laborious processes, which begin with the proper cultivation, such as the correct choice of trees, planting, watering, fertilisation, transportation, crushing and storage.
The olive has to undergo various procedures in order to become oil. However the immediate picking of the olives, the cleanliness during the gathering process, as well as the shortest possible time from the collection to the oil-press and the crushing process will offer the best results. In general, it has been proved that a delay in the crushing of the fruit after being picked will negatively affect the quality acidity and aroma of the oil.
Olives are the fruits of the olive tree which is indigenous to the Mediterranean countries but also cultivated nowadays in other areas, even in America and Australia . There are many different kinds of olives. Some are used for making oil, while others are for eating (these are usually large in size). There are also some varieties which are used for both oil and consumption.
The olive tree (El olivo) blossoms in spring and shortly afterwards the olive fruit starts to grow. They are a bright green colour to begin with and this lasts until the time when they ripen. This varies amongst the different types of olive but is usually towards the end of autumn.
The olive is a fruit with fleshy skin. Olive oil is the natural juice of the olive, a pure product which is obtained with machinery or by natural means. The oil of the olive is found in the fleshy part of the fruit. Olives reach their maximum oil content when they are fully ripe but the finest oil is obtained from the olives that are just beginning to ripen.
In Spain there are over 260 types of olives but the main varieties are:
Arbequina: Mainlyfound in the Catalonian region. It is recognized for its aromatic ripe fruitiness, low bitterness, pungency and stability.
Cornicabra: Found in La Mancha ( Central Spain ). Very fruity and aromatic with medium bitterness, pungency and stability.
Picual : Mostly found in Jaen ( Southern Spain ). When harvested early produces a nicely aromatic fruity oil that has medium bitterness and very high stability due to its high percentage of oleic acid.
Manzanilla: Found in Caceres (south-western Spain ). Fruity aromatic and herbaceous: medium bitterness and stability, strongly pungent.
Hojiblanca . MainlyFound in Malaga y Cordoba ( Southern Spain ). Fruity, aromatic, mildly pungent, low bitterness and stability.