In the ancient times olive oil was known as the "golden liquid". Athlets used to massage their bodies with olve oil, which was used as a medicine and even a magical potion. Olive tree were symbol of abbondance and peace. It has been always an important ingridient of the Mediterranean cuisine. The first evidences of the the olive oil production date back to the 4000 BC and the most important written document which regulated the commerce of this precious product is the Hammurabi code (2.500 BC). The Romans planted olive trees in all territories of the empire and established that taxes had to paid with olive oil. They also classified olive oil according to the different types of pressing. After the falling of the Roman empire and untill the IX century the olive trees farms were abandoned because of the barbarian invasions. Lateron the plantations were reintroduced by the benedectin monks. In the XIV century Italy became the major olive oil producer in the world with the greatest variety of different olive trees species.
Today Italy boasts 360 cultivars and 41 PDO certified olive oils. Unforuately, there are many forgeries and frauds. I wish to share with you a short guide to distinguish the best and authentic olive oil:
Quality olive oil is expensive. Don't buy low cost olive oil and read carefully the lebel. PDO certified olive oil must show the special seal and indication of olives provenience, area of production, bottles produced and expiring date.
2. Extra virgin olive oil
It's the finest one. It has only 1% of acidity. Extra vergin olive oli comes from the first or second cold pressing at a temperature of maximum 27C which keeps the organoleptic characteristics.
3. Organic olive oil
It's the purest one since producers can't use pesticides. The production is limited.
Olive oil is a great and fundamental ingredient of the Mediterranean diet. It is versatile, it can be used raw or cooked, well digestible and recommended for low fats diets.
My favourite local olive oil is the Nobildrupa produced in Brisighella one of the most charmimg and best preserved medieval villages. It is produced from 100% Ghiacciola olives. These particular olives are the latest ones. The harvest usually starts at the end of November before the cold. This oil whose production is very limited, boasts a very low acidity, it is rich in vitamins and it's characterised by a slightly bitter flavour.
If you are visiting Italy in these days you have the great opportunity to see the olives harvest, the olives pressing and taste the new oil! Amazing!