When you taste Apulia extra virgin olive oil, you taste the terroir from whence it came. Terroir, simply defined as the soil, topography and climate of a growing region, plays into the nuances of an oil’s flavor profile, leaving traces and undertones ranging from grassy and floral to mineral and woodsy.
The soul of Apulia lies in its olive orchards. Blanketing rolling hills that recede to craggy coastlines and crystalline Mediterranean seascapes, Apulia olive trees represent millennia of more than just extra virgin olive oil production—they embody the lifeblood of a region.
Apulia has around 60 million olive trees. Among those, 5 million are actually monumental, representing the most antique agricultural arboreal existent landscape.
Apulia supplies around 40% of olive oil production in Italy, so it is the first region for quantity and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced per year.
Experts say that the olive oil from Apulia is some of the most palatable in the world, characterized by its digestibility and high vitamin content.
To know it close up seek out the ‘Terra d’Ulivi’ Olive Oil Route. It is an association recognized by the Regione Apulia whose aim is to valorize, in particular, the extra virgin DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) olive oil ‘Cima di Bitonto’ as well as the beauty and history of the area where the olives are cultivated.
Some of the main towns you have to visit are Molfetta, Giovinazzo, Bitonto, Terlizzi and Ruvo, as well as Palo del Colle, Bitetto, Grumo Appula, Toritto, Sannicandro, Sammichele di Bari, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Santeramo in Colle, Bitritto, Capurso, Cellamare and others.
Apulian extra virgin olive oil has a perfect balance, it is neither sweet nor bitter, neither astringent nor spicy. It tastes healthy olives harvested when ripe. These characteristics contributed to giving to the region Apulia the primacy of producer of extra virgin olive oil.
One of the typical characteristics of the Apulian olive oil is the color: it starts from the intense golden yellow to reach dark green. The color tends to lighten with time but the transparency and clarity remain unchanged.
The acidity of the oil is one of the first characteristics that is evaluated before bottling, the value must be below 1% to ensure its goodness and duration. Apulian extra virgin olive oil generally does not exceed 0.4% acidity.
Apulian extra virgin olive oil contains some substances and elements that help with the prevention of aging and degenerative diseases and that provide a fundamental contribution to our health, such as oleic acid, tocopherol, carotenes and vitamin E.
The olive harvest takes place between October and December, it is preferred to collect the fruits by hand in order to allow a selection by discarding the moldy ones thus avoiding compromising the finished product. We then move on to pressing or milling to extract the oil in its raw state. It follows a cold-pressing procedure, which means that the temperature at which the extraction takes place does not exceed 27°. This procedure allows preserving the organoleptic properties, guaranteeing all the benefits of daily use of the olive oil.
By working hand-in-hand with master craftsmen and remaining true to the ethos of small-batch, artisanal production, Apuglia offers some of the purest extra virgin olive oils in Southern Italy.
It is very important the production method:
- Picking: they use small fans to shake the olive branches just gently enough to knock olives to the ground. They gather them in large tubs and bring them in for cleaning.
- Cleaning: they pick off the stems and leaves, then wash the olives to remove any soil. No need to wash off pesticides, as they aren’t used.
- Grinding: The first step in breaking down the olive is to remove the flesh to release the oil – they do this with a mill, creating a paste.
- Separating: This is more commonly known as “pressing” – which is when the olive oil is entered into presses/centrifuges and separated from the paste. Then water is separated out, and what’s left is an olive oil bursting with flavor.
Some golden rules to recognize Apulian extra virgin olive oil:
– Read the label carefully:: you need to identify the type of pressing and look for the wording “cold pressing” which ensures its quality.
– Made in Italy, it is good to identify the collection and production area to be able to buy a real Apulian extra virgin olive oil.
– Opening a bottle of Apulian extra virgin olive oil means feeling an explosion of smells: the fruity aroma will remain unchanged until used at the table.
– Don’t trust the color: We always tend to associate a good extra virgin olive oil with the green color but this is not always an absolute index. It can happen that even after a few hours from pressing a good Apulian oil turns its color towards the gold color while keeping all its characteristics. Therefore it is good not to rely exclusively on color to make a choice.
– Itching: If we feel a tingling while tasting an Apulian extra virgin olive oil, we will have the guarantee that it is a valuable oil. The sensation will vary according to the type of olives used but it will be a common feature in good oil.
Extra Virgin Puglia Olive Oil, the foundation of the Mediterranean diet, is used basically in each and every recipe of Apulia, playing a prime role amongst all ingredients. Produced from massive secular olive trees, it gives flavor to typical antipasti, first and second dishes, side dishes and even desserts.