The cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil are deeply rooted in Spain’s history and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) (or liquid gold as the Romans referred to it) is is an integral part of Spanish cooking and forms the basis of the Mediterranean diet.
In the UK, we have in the past tended to associate EVOO with Italy and Greece. In fact, Spain is actually the largest producer of olive oil in the world. It is estimated that Spain’s olive oil production nears 1.3 million tonnes annually and around 70% of that comes from the Andalucia region. But what exactly do we mean by EVOO?
EVOO is the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. It is the only cooking oil that is made without the use of chemicals and industrial refining. EVOO is made from pure, cold-pressed olives.
‘Cold-pressing’ refers to the temperature at which the olives are pressed and indicates that the oil has been produced in optimum conditions, preserving it’s superior aromas and flavours.
It is a common misconception that the darker the oil, the better the quality. Actually, the colour of the oil will often indicate the time of harvest. EVOO produced from those olives harvested earlier in the year tends to be darker green in colour and has a more intense, peppery, grassy flavour. EVOO produced from more mature fruit tends to be more golden in colour with a fruitier and smoother taste.
The time between the harvesting and the milling of the olives is an important factor in determining the quality of the EVOO ultimately produced. Once the fruit is harvested, it will begin to deteriorate. Factors such as heat and light will significantly impact how quickly this process occurs. To preserve the olives, they must be transported to the mill as soon as possible and in as little time as possible. Both of our producers, La Samiaja and Heroina harvest and mill on the same day, preserving the fruit and it’s qualities.
People often ask about unfiltered vs filtered EVOO. What’s the difference? Which tastes better? The truth is that they are just different. The most noticeable difference between an unfiltered and filtered EVOO is appearance. Unfiltered EVOO might appear slightly cloudy or more opaque. Most people would argue that whether you prefer filtered or unfiltered is really down to personal taste.
Choosing a bottle of EVOO is like choosing a bottle of wine in many respects and the above touches on a few aspects that you might want to consider when purchasing your next bottle of EVOO.