Olive oil is a staple of the Italian diet and is found in every Italian kitchen. Whether it’s being used to help cook a pasta dish or pieces of bread are being dipped into it, olive oil has become a part of almost every element of Italian cuisine.
During your stay at our luxury holiday villas Tuscany, you’ll be able to see first-hand just how big of a part olive oil plays in the Italian lifestyle. Not only will you be able to cook with and taste authentic Italian olive oil, but you can also see how the olives are grown and how the oil is made at the many olive groves found across the Italian countryside.
Before you experience Italy’s amazing olive oil for yourself, find out more about this essential ingredient with our collection of interesting facts.
The fresher the olive oil, the better it tastes.
As opposed to Italian wine, which improves over time, many of the health benefits associated with olive oil are only found in freshly produced batches. This means fresh oil is best used for things such as salad dressing, while oil that is more than a year old can still be used for cooking.
Extra virgin olive oil is the best olive oil you can get.
It comes from the first pressing of the olives and means that no chemicals have been added to help extract the oil, creating a much cleaner taste than other presses of olive oil. It is highly recommended for dishes where the oil is prominent, such as salads and for dipping.
Four litres of olive oil can be produced from just one tree in a single year.
A mature olive tree can produce anywhere between 15kg and 20kg of olives in a year. Olive trees can also live for hundreds of years and are some of the oldest known trees in the world, meaning they can produce a lot of olive oil in their lifetime.
Olive oil has many health benefits.
As it is high in oleic acid, it can help to reduce blood pressure, while it is also high in antioxidants such as Vitamin E, oleuropein and carotenoids. Studies have also shown that extra virgin olive oil has properties that can help fight off illnesses associated with poor health, such as strokes and heart disease.
Like with wines, olive oils are given different grades and labels based on their taste, production methods, composition and place of origin.
Some of these are widely known, such as virgin oil. However, there is also refined oil – produced using more common, chemical methods – and olive pomace oil, which is created primarily from the olive pulp left behind after the first press. Pomace oil has a much more neutral flavour which is less desirable, however it contains the same health benefits as regular oil and a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for heavy-duty cooking in places like restaurants.
Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil, producing around 15% of the world’s olive oil every year.
Spain is the only country in the world to produce more olive oil than Italy.
The olive tree was first brought to Italy from Greece in around 1000BC.
The Greeks introduced the tree during their rule over the island of Sicily, in Southern Italy. It has been a key element of the country’s diet ever since!
It is technically a juice!
Although the product is referred to as an oil, olive oil is, in fact, a juice, as it is made from crushed olives, just like orange juice is made from crushed oranges.
Olive oil should be bought and stored in a dark-coloured bottle, as it helps to block out light, which can damage your olive oil.
The light destroys the olive oil through oxidation, changing the structure of the compounds within the oil.
An olive tree won’t instantly bear fruit.
It can take as long as eight years for an olive tree to mature and bear fruit. Experts suggest that trees can take as long as 15 years before they produce excellent oil. However, once they reach this stage olive trees can produce quality goods for around 65 years!
Hopefully these facts will inspire you to take a culture-filled trip to Italy. Still need convincing? Why not take a look at the reasons we fell in love with Tuscany?