Olive oil is synonymous with Spain and its cooking culture. It finds use in virtually every Spanish dish and imparts a vibrant flavour to food. As with all natural products, olive oil varies dependant on where and when the harvest takes place. For example, olives harvested early in the season will produce a stronger and more bitter oil. If they are harvested later in the year, the resulting oil will be smoother and have a more buttery texture.
Oil producers use various methods to advertise their products, so it is worth considering what you are buying when making a choice. The best grade is ‘ Extra Virgin’ Olive oil as this has not been refined or blended. There are strict regulations regarding oil production and it is worth noting that Virgin oils must be processed naturally without the use of solvents and cannot be mixed with other oils. For this reason, Virgin oils are the best choice.
There are many Spanish olive varieties available, with Manzanilla being the best known. Grown in Andalusia, it is a juicy green olive that is served pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. The Manzanilla is also commonly served with a Martini. There are other varieties which include Empeltre, Sevillano, Arbequina, Picual and the Hojiblanca. Each variety has its use and individual flavour so there are plenty of options when choosing the Olive oil that suits your palate and your needs.
Using Olive oil in your daily diet is the healthy option. As a naturally produced product, it contain no additives or preservatives and is free from cholesterols. The fact that it is so natural means that Olive oil is not only an excellent alternative to refined oils for cooking, it can be used for a variety of dressing and can be infused with many different vegetables and leaves to enhance further its flavour.
The Spanish love their Olives and produce some of the finest oils available. Take your time when choosing an oil and try a selection of varieties before making your decision. Always buy Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive oil as it is the purest and the best. When you buy your Spanish Olive oil, you are bringing some of the beautiful Spanish sun into your home.