We’ve all heard about the superb health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and that olive oil is not only one of the delicious ingredients but also a vital element of Andalusian cuisine. Luckily, if you live in Andalucia or are considering putting down roots when you find your perfect luxury property for sale, this is the perfect place to discover more and indulge your love of olive oil.
In fact, Spain has the perfect habitat and climate, making it the world’s largest producer with the widest variety of olives. However, it is the small Andalusia town of Jaén which is internationally recognised the ‘world capital of olive oil’.
How olive oil is made
Often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, this precious oil is harvested from olive trees, several times throughout the year. The flavour will depend upon the time of the harvest. In the springtime the olives are plumper and more purplish in colour, whereas in the winter, they are greener and have a more peppery, slightly bitter taste. The olive oil produced from the later harvest is usually smoother, fruitier and has a more golden hue.
Yet, it isn’t all down to the harvest, the way the olives are processed is crucial to the flavour. They will be crushed at an olive mill (flesh and stones) to create the ‘mash’. The mash is then pressed or whizzed around to separate the oil and depending upon which method is used it will either be left to stand or spun a second time to get rid of any impurities. It must then mature, usually between 3 to 6 months.
How do you know which olive oil to buy?
Olive can enhance the flavour of any type of meal including fried fish… now you know why the Andalusian fried fish platters are so tasty! It brings all types of food alive from traditional Andalusian Gazpacho soup to salads and sauces. But with so many different options in the supermarket, with options from Italy and Greece alongside the Spanish oils, it is difficult to know which to buy.
Choosing a delicious Spanish olive oil
If you aren’t yet an aficionado who recognises the individual tastes and nuances of Spanish olive oils, you can start by experimenting to see which of the different aromas, colours and tastes suit your palette. To do this, the most important information you need to look for Extra Virgin and to make sure it is Spanish olive oil.
Extra Virgin is the highest grade, it has no defects and acidity of less than 0.8. Whereas olive oil with some minimal defects and slightly higher acidity is classed as Virgin olive oil. The classifications are provided by the IOOC (International Olive Oil Council), a worldwide standard for grading olive oils, covering the type of olive, acidity level, origin and time of harvest (spring or winter).
Just remember, the labels often try to blind you with science by stating ‘first cold pressing’, which means nothing as heat is only required in the production of refined oils, which you wouldn’t want to consume.
Discovering Andalusian Olive Oil
The good news is… you don’t need to take our word for it. It is possible to visit some of the best olive mills and taste the freshly pressed nectar for yourself. Here are three of the top presses in the region which offer tourism:
Oro Bailén, Jaén
Possibly the most beautiful landscape, in the foothills of the Sierra Morena enjoying the perfect conditions for superbly healthy olive groves. The Oro Bailén Reserva Familiar Picual olive oil is ranked as the third best in the world, and visited are often treated to a glimpse of Iberian Linx, deers and wolves. Surely this is worth a visit?
For more information olive tourism visit their website: https://www.orobailen.com/
Finca La Torre, Malaga
Ecological and sustainable producers who also consistently different award-winning Extra Virgin olive oil. Olive trees have been in this region for over 2,000 years.
Hacienda El Palo, Jaén
The multi award-winning Bravoleum olive oil is the considered one of the best in the world, offering a taste sensation ranging from intense green and fruity olives, all the way through to almonds.
If you would like more information about Andalusian lifestyle or assistance finding the best luxury homes for sale on the Costa del Sol, contact Myriam.