Spanish Olive Oil – Olive Oil in Spain

Spain is a country rich in homegrown Spanish products such as wine, sherry, special cured ham and the famous Spanish olive oil. All of which are part of the daily staple for all Spaniards….breakfast, lunch and dinner or even the spanish tapas.

The delicious Spanish food is at the heart of all celebrations and family get-together and no ingredient is more fundamental to Spanish cooking than olive oil.

Olive oils in Spain are comparable in importance to good wine.

Spanish olive oil ranges from an inexpensive, everyday fat for frying to pricey elixirs reverentially drizzled on langoustines or swirled into soups.

It is little known that Spain, and not Italy, supplied the Roman Empire with the bulk of its oil in antiquity.

Spain produces 50% of the worlds olive oil

Spain has continued on this path and today produces 50 percent of the world’s olive oil.
Although most Spanish olive oil comes from the Andalusian provinces of Jaen and Cordoba, other regions, especially Catalonia, are playing catch-up with rich finely flavoured olive oils that can give Tuscany a run for the money.

Spain produces over 260 types of Spanish Olive Oil

The effect of a specific olive variety on the character of its oil is not unlike that of a particular grape on its wine.

Spain proudly cultivates more than 260 olive varieties.

The scope of flavours and fragrances of the different spanish olive oils reflect the diversity of the country´s varied terrain – rainy and mountainous in the North, dry prairie like areas of the central regions and rich terra cotta coloured soil in the South.

With so much variety in the family of spanish olive oil, it is impossible to declare that there is such a thing as generic, all purpose olive oil that is best used for everything.

Both chefs and home cooks these days choose their olive oil depending on how they plan to use it (frying, sauteing, drizzling, dressing a salad) and on the flavour they desire (fruity, peppery, smooth, stringent, delicate, robust).

Another thing to take into consideration is whether the oil is labeled as light or extra light which refers to the spanish olive oils color and mildness of flavour. These are usually neutral-flavoured, light textured oils made with an extremely fine filtration process.

A Taste of Spanish Olive Oil

Though it is impossible to keep track of them all – especially since so many spanish olive oil s are blends of different varieties of olives- here is an introduction to the best known olives and their oils.

Arbequina olive oil is from Catalonia and Aragon. This smooth oil is from the young, small and delicate arbequina olives. The oil is herbaceous and fruity, with hints of almonds and artichokes, and an attractive bitterness with a smooth texture, a rich fragrance, and a colour that ranges from gold to a muted green.

However, this young olive oil is not really suitable for cooking. It is best used on salads, as a final touch for grilled fish or cooked green vegetables, or for moistening toasted or grilled bread. The olive alone is Catalonia’s best-loved table olive.

olive oil is from Toledo and Ciudad Real in Castilla La Mancha. The oil from these ancient horn-shaped olives (cornicabra- goat horn) has a sweet-bitter pungent, well balanced, and velvety texture with a greenish-gold hue.

Oil from riper cornicabra olives is reminiscent of avocado, with which it deliciously accompanies. Use cornicabra oil straight from the bottle on gazpachos, in warm potatoe or bean salad, or for braised green vegetables, sautéed fish or chicken, or escabeches.

Empeltre olive oil is from Bajo Aragon, Tarragona and the Balearic Islands . Light, mild, faintly fruity, this pale-golden oil has hints of apples and almonds and just a faint hint of pepper.

Because of its sweetness, empeltre oil is great for blending with other varieties of olive oil. By itself, it´s delicious in salad dressings, in uncooked marinades, or drizzled over asparagus.

Like arbequina, this oil is delicate and unstable. It´s best used raw and not for cooking. Preserve this bottle in a cool dark place.

Hojiblanca olive oil is from Seville , Malaga , and Cordoba . Hojiblanca olives have been around since antiquity, producing oils that can range rather widely in flavour but generally tend to be pleasantly bittersweet, fruity, and lightly peppery, with a hint of almonds.

As it can withstand chilling, this stable oil is perfect for gazpachos. It´s also good for frying and sautéing.

Additionally, it is terrific for baking – both sweet and savoury. The olive is also a popular black table olive.

Picual olive oil is from the Andalusian provinces of Jaen , Cordoba and Granada .

Picuals comprise some 50 percent of all Spanish olives and are prized for their reliability and versatility.

Picual oil is rather robust, peppery, fresh tasting, and pleasantly bitter. Because it is so stable, this is excellent cooking oil, whether you are deep-frying, sautéing, braising vegetables or cooking potatoes.

It’s also delicious in vinagrettes made with sherry vinegar. Picual oil is often blended with other varieties, such as hojiblanca.

Picudo olive oil is from Cordoba, Jaen, Granada and Malaga. The pointed end of the fruit (picudo means prominent peak) generally makes a sweet, light, well-balanced oil with floral hints of apples and tropical fruit. Use it to drizzle on mild, delicate dishes, with buttery salad greens, and fruit gazpachos, and when baking sweets or frying fish. This is indeed a preferred one in those variety of Spanish olive oil.

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