An education in Ornello’s olive oil. It has been a few weeks that Theresa from The Farm at Rockledge Gardens and I returned from our epic journey to Italy. A portion of our trip was dedicated to our Adopt An Olive Tree project and meeting the olive farmers and custodians of all those wonderful trees!Those of you who have adopted one of our olive trees, will already be familiar with Ornello, since you have received a bottle of his award winning oil. Well, he has recently sent us 2 more different varieties of his wonderful olive nectar. They vary in colour and flavour so we asked Ornello why this was and he has given us some interesting information regarding the way that olives are grown and why each of the 4 oils we have available, are so different. What follows is an education in Ornello’s olive oil from Ornello himself:
“The extra virgin olive oil production in the municipality of Vallecorsa, Italy, is renowned all over Italy for growing olives. The ancient olive groves of the area are of special value and contribute to the morphology of the landscape, which is a vast area strongly characterized by stone wall terraces.
The olive oil of the area is obtained from a single “cultivar” (a single variety of olive), Carboncella. Typical of the areas of Lower Lazio, Carboncella adapts well to limestone soils found in and around the territory of Vallecorsa. The olive oil produced from the Carboncella olive is good, harmonious, fruity, bitter and pungent, so the flavour is characterised by a very intense fruit with a bitter almond aftertaste. The colour of the oil fades from green to golden yellow as the olives develop. The Carboncella olive has a very high in polyphenols and chlorophyll. Polyphenols are phytochemicals; compounds found abundantly in natural plant food sources, and have antioxidant properties.
The olive harvesting period generally occurs during the first days of November, although the trend is to keep a close eye on the crop in order to anticipate the best time for harvesting. For example, in 2015 the first harvest began on October 24, a second harvest was carried out on November 1st, a third on November 13th and a fourth on November 20th. Each harvest is typically carried out over one day, at most two days. The olives are then pressed within 24 – 36 hours from the time of harvest. Harvesting our olives is exclusively made by hand and olives are raked from the trees to fall onto non-toxic, antispine polyethylene sheets.
Each period of collection affects the quality of the olive oil. A green oil will indicate an early harvest. A golden colour will indicate a harvest made during the more advanced periods. However, the acidity of an oil is the first indication of its ‘goodness’. To be called ‘extra virgin’ the acidity should not exceed 0.8%. Our oil produced in 2015 did not exceed 0.3 – 0.4 % which means that it has achieved a particularly high standard and is clearly below the parameters required by European law.”
We hope this has helped you with understanding firstly how olive oil is produced and secondly, how to increase your chances of selected a high quality, extra virgin olive oil. We recommend with all of the oil that we bring you, to avoid cooking with it. It’s perfect just as it is, drizzle it over your pasta and salad dishes – enjoy!
With many thanks to all the growers of Vallecorsa.
We will be catching up with the olive picking in November and can’t wait! If you would like to join us in Italy, find out more at ItalianHolidays.Vacations.