Saturday, 17 November 2007

Spanish olive oils: appreciating the details

A particular range of flavours and sensations are associated with oils obtained from a specific variety of olives. The senses, crucial to gathering all information required to experience an extra virgin olive oil, are the sight, smell, taste and touch. But knowing the qualities ascribed to each olive variety can pave the way.

There are over 1.500 olive varieties in the world, of which some 250 are cultivated in Spain. Let’s review the flavours commonly associated to the most popular ones.

  • Arbequina: it produces fresh and fruity oils, where the aroma of healthy olives is quite distinctive. They tend to retain subtle flavours that remind of almonds, apple or banana. Oils made with this type of olives are generally quite sweet and leave a slightly bitter taste in your mouth.
  • Cornicabra: it gives oils of strong fruity aromas that display some hints of apple and grass. The intense flavour of a ripe fruit and the perfect balance between bitterness and piquant are the main traits that share oils made with this variety.
  • Hojiblanca: it renders fragrant and fresh oils that remind of fresh herb and almonds. The taste is usually mild, although a discreet trace of bitterness and a hint of piquant can be perceived.
  • Lechín: oils obtained from this variety are intense and vigorous. The main aroma associated to these oils is that of healthy olives. They also may present a hint of fresh herb. Their taste is only slightly sweet and a very delicate trait of piquant can be distinguished.
  • Picual: the strong fruity aroma of green olives is the main trait of oils made from this variety. Some of them may present also a flavour reminiscent of fig tree and even of wood. These oils are astringent and have an intense but balanced piquant and bitter taste.

  • For a fine selection of Spanish extra virgin olive oils please visit our Spanish food online store.


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