Extra virgin olive oil, referred to as the liquid gold is that super healthy ingredient that makes all Italian dishes taste so good. Read on and find out why you should grab a bottle now.
I have three olive trees at home that keep on growing and shedding ripe olives everywhere. We never picked the fruit and our fault was that we barely trimmed the branches to keep them from growing too tall. Now they serve only as shade-providers and my most indispensable source of props when I take food photos. The leaves, olives and branches are quite unbeatable as beautiful and natural-looking decors.
Olives thrive well in the Mediterranean climate and for that reason, Italy has dedicated a lot of its land to olive trees in almost all of its regions. There are hundreds of cultivars of olives that exist around the world and in Italy, more than 500 cultivars are being cultivated in different regions. Each cultivar has unique characteristics that make extra virgin olive oil unique from each other too. Some can be fruity, bitter, greenish, yellowish, delicate, nutty, peppery, mild or stronger than the others. For that reason, like wine, they have to be paired well with the kind of food you are eating. I like pairing delicate to medium oil with mild-tasting food and the stronger ones with persistent character to the kinds of food with more decisive flavors too.
In my kitchen, like in most, if not all Italian homes, I keep two kinds of extra virgin olive oil. One is for cooking that is commercially available in regular supermarkets and another one is dedicated for using raw on salads, pasta or whatever kind of food which I get straight from the olive mills or from specialty shops.
Kids in Italy start early in learning about extra virgin olive oil. Starting from kindergarten, one of their out-of-school trips is to go to olive oil mills and learn about the fruit, harvesting and pressing the olives. One of their mid-morning snacks required by the schools is bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and amazingly, kids love them!
How do they go about everything? In a nutshell, they lay a large net under the tree where the olives can fall on, shake the tree using a tractor or some harvest them manually, gather the olives in big containers that go straight to the pressing machines, cleaned then pressed to extract the oil.
This post is quite different from my usual because I am also embedding a story I created for Mode that speaks about extra virgin olive oil. Scroll down and check it out. I hope you'll like it!