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Archive for January, 2020

Our Olive Oil from the Algarve, Portugal

Locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Algarve, Portugal

Locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The olive oil we made came from a variety of olives. These olives grew  and ripened under the Algarve sun in southern Portugal.

The black varieties included Cornicabra and Galega gave us extra virgin oil of 0.7 degree.

Galega olives, Algarve , Portugal

Galega olives

The green varieties of olives produced extra virgin oil of 0.5 degree. These olives were more of a spherical type and some of them were huge with diameters exceeding 3 cm. I have yet to identify these varieties. Most of these trees were grafted by the Portuguese over 50 to 200 years ago.

For an explanation of the degree of olive oil see the previous article.

Cornicabra olives, Algarve Portugal

Cornicabra olives image credited to viveiros da bairrada

The healthy benefits are of Extra Virgin Oil are much vaunted .

The verified facts are:

  • Rich in anti-oxidants so a good nuero protector.

  • Unrefined olive oil is best as it is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins.

  • The antioxidants contained in Extra Virgin Oil oil do not break down on heating. This is great as as it means you can cook with extra Virgin Olive oil without loss of the antioxidants. This brings me to the myth of cold pressed olive oil. What temperature is this “cold” exactly? Because room temperature varies from 18ºC to about 24ºC depending on the individual. Unrefined Extra virgin Oil starts to congeal at temperatures below 16ºC so you would get very little oil pressing at these temperatures in the cold season of October to December. For this reason olive oil presses have to supply some heat during the extraction process. It does not affect the beneficial properties of the olive oil nor affect the oil’s excellent taste which should be peppery ans grassy. Some Extra virgin oils are slightly bitter.

  • Cooking with Extra Virgin Oil helps prevent the break down and loss of beneficial nutrients like vitamin C in vegetables.

  • A diet that includes regular amounts Extra Virgin Oil oil has been proved to reduced bone fractures and loss of bone in the elderly.

Facts not completely verified are:

  • Reduces the risk of Stroke and Heart Attack. This could be true as the Extra Virgin Oil would replace other fats in one´s diet responsible for cholesterol and restricted flow in the blood vessels.

“Where can I get some of this fine Extra Virgin Olive oil of yours?”

If you are in Hillingdon, West London or High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, we have a limited stock of this Portuguese unrefined Extra Virgin Olive Oil in 1 litre bottles. Email  jdsouza@lineone.net for details.

Sources:

11 Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil That You Can’t Ignore

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28143667 (refers to bone loss)

http://www.viveirosdabairrada.com

My route to producing some Olive Oil.

2014 April , I had just been on the property for a couple of months. These early days were filled with wonder of all the trees that were on the property. The size of the property was and still is 1 hectare.

Mature olive tree, Oliveira, Luz de Tavira

Mature Olive tree

With a tiny cottage which was incomplete. No floors for one. Amongst the trees were four mature olive trees. The tallest and these was 5 m or more. In addition to these, were over 100 wild olive trees which I hardly noticed at the time except for the ones that were in heavy bloom, like in the photo below.

Wild olive tree in bloom, oliveira, Luz de Tavira

Wild olive tree in bloom (2014)

Quite naturally, I tended to show off the four mature olive trees to visitors then as there wasn’t much else besides the wild terrain. All four of these mature olive trees were in dire need of pruning and clearance around the base area of the trees. They now are in a better state but there is definitely room for improvement.

Then I had no idea about all the different olive varieties and what was involved in producing olive oil. And today, I still haven’t identified the variety of these four large mature trees. They were grafted a very long time ago. I say this , because new branches that grow off their bases give a smaller black olive (Galega?) rather than the larger green ones.

2019, five years on. I mentioned black olives earlier. A good few of the wild olives trees produced round black olives in 2019 for the first time. The olives were of a decent size. Usually wild olive trees produce tiny oval olives that haven’t much weight. From this excellent guide , I think they maybe of the Galega variety.

Thus I have over the years been learning about olives and producing a little olive oil. I also conserve olives for the table but did not prepare any this year as it is a time consuming process.

As you can see, I have been planting about 40 very new olive trees on my property.

young olive tree, oliveria, Luz de Tavira

young olive tree

It will be some years before they produce anything but I have the patience. I am not sure what varieties they are. The guy with whom I did this joint venture said that they were Cobrançosa and Picual. I am doubtful about the ones purporting to be Cobrançosa as the leaves are short and wide rather than long and slim. From this very excellent Portuguese guide, I think they may be Arbequina. This variety is also popular is Spain where the cuttings came from. The Extra Virgin olive oil of the Arbequina is sauve and of excellent quality. So we will see. For table olives I have a four young Maçanilha and the green olives from the four mature trees are well suited to preserving in bottles.

Picual, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, azeite, azeitonas, olive oil

Could be Picual

I would love to have a micro olive oil press to experiment with all the different varieties. I don’t have this option at the cooperative press I use. Out of necessity we(my neighbours and I), have to mix all varieties together to exceed the minimum half tonne required per pressing.

Properties of olive oil.

Percentage Free oleic acid.

This is what gives an oil have it greasy property. The percentage of free olive oil is also represented as a degree between 0 to 1.

The The percentage of free oleic acid of Extra Virgin olive oil must be less than 80% or 0.8 degrees. The oxidation process of olive oil will increase as the oil is exposed to air and sunlight.

This is why it is important to store olive oil in a cool dark place and in air tight containers.

Standard olive oil has almost no taste or fragrance as it almost 100% free oleic acid and is like any other vegetable cooking oil.

One of the principal health benefits of Extra Virgin olive lies in the fact that it is rich in antioxidants.

Sources:

https://www.aceitedelasvaldesas.com/en/faq/preguntas-aceite-de-oliva/acidez-del-aceite-de-oliva/