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Italian extra virgin olive oil: find out how it is produced and its nutritional values

Olio extravergine di oliva italiano: scopri come viene prodotto e i suoi valori nutrizionali
Table of Contents

Extra virgin olive oil is a natural product obtained from the pressing of olives, without the use of chemical or heat treatments that alter their quality. It is the highest quality type of olive oil, characterized by a free acidity, expressed in oleic acid, which does not exceed 0.8%.

This oil is prized for its fruity flavor and aromatic notes, which can vary depending on the variety of olive used, the soil, the climate, and the method of harvesting and production.

In addition to its use in cooking as a raw condiment or for light cooking, extra virgin olive oil is renowned for its health benefits: it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid, and contains natural antioxidants such as vitamin E and polyphenols.

These compounds help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and have anti-inflammatory properties. Extra virgin olive oil is therefore a fundamental element not only in gastronomy, but also in a healthy lifestyle.

The olive harvest

The olive harvest is a crucial moment in the extra virgin olive oil production process, an annual event that marks the rhythm of agricultural life in many Italian regions. Traditionally, the harvest begins in late autumn and can continue until January, depending on the olive variety and weather conditions.

Olive growers wait for the perfect moment when the olives reach the right degree of ripeness, a delicate balance between quantity and quality of the oil that will result.

Harvesting techniques vary: some farms prefer manual picking, an ancient method that consists of picking the olives directly from the tree with your hands or with the help of special combs.

This method is gentle and preserves the integrity of the fruit, but it is also more laborious and expensive. Other farms use mechanical methods, such as vibro-wands or shaking machines, which allow the olives to be harvested more quickly. However, it is crucial that the harvest is done carefully to avoid damaging both the olives and the trees.

Once harvested, the olives are quickly transported to the mill to be processed. It is essential that this happens quickly to prevent the start of fermentation processes that could compromise the quality of the oil.

The freshness of the olives is one of the secrets to obtaining a high-quality extra virgin olive oil, rich in aromas and with a low level of acidity.

Olive harvesting is not just an agricultural practice, but a real art that has been handed down from generation to generation, a cultural heritage that helps to define the identity of the Italian landscape.

Milling

The milling of olives is a fundamental step in the production of extra virgin olive oil, a process that transforms the harvested fruit into a precious and aromatic liquid. After harvesting, the olives are transported to the mill, where the stages of their transformation begin.

The first operation is defoliation and washing, to remove leaves and impurities that could compromise the quality of the oil. Subsequently, the actual milling takes place, which takes place through millstones, often made of granite, which crush the olives.

This process breaks down the cells of the olives, making it easier to separate the oil from the pulp and pit. Technology has modernized this process, but the principle remains that of natural pressing, without the addition of chemical additives, to ensure a pure and high-quality final product.

The choice of milling technique is crucial, as it affects the flavor, aroma , and nutritional properties of the oil.

Different methods can enhance or modify the organoleptic characteristics of the oil, making each production unique and linked to the territory of origin. Milling is not just a technical process, but a ritual that embodies the tradition and culture of the place, a moment in which the passion of olive growers is transformed into a product that encapsulates the essence of the Italian land.

Italian extra virgin olive oil

Italian extra virgin olive oil

Italian extra virgin olive oil represents a world-renowned excellence, the result of a thousand-year-old tradition that blends with modern production techniques.

The quality of Italian oil is guaranteed by the meticulous care of olive growers, who select the best varieties of olives and grow them in ideal conditions, often in hilly terrain that offers the right mix of sun and ventilation.

The Italian regions, from north to south, offer a diversity of flavors and aromas that are reflected in the unique characteristics of each oil produced.

The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are quality marks that attest to the authenticity and origin of the oil, ensuring that each bottle is an ambassador of the territory from which it comes.

Italian extra virgin olive oil is known for its fruity flavor, spiciness , and bitter notes, which vary according to the olive variety and the time of harvest. This oil is also a health ally, rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, which contribute to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

The art of milling and the attention to conservation are aspects that Italian olive growers take care of with passion, aware that every detail can influence the final quality of the oil. Italian extra virgin olive oil is not just a culinary ingredient, but a real cultural heritage, which carries within itself the flavors and knowledge of a country that has made food excellence one of its distinctive traits.

Benefits of extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a true treasure of the Mediterranean diet, known for its many health benefits. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid, it helps keep LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol levels lower, while increasing HDL cholesterol (the “good” one).

This balance promotes cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition, extra virgin olive oil is an important source of antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols, which protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

Regular use of extra virgin olive oil can also improve the digestion and promote theNutrient absorption such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Not only that, but extra virgin olive oil is also prized for its properties moisturizing and protective for the skin, making it a valuable ingredient in cosmetics as well.

Choosing extra virgin olive oil therefore means not only enjoying a product with a unique and rich flavor, but also making a conscious choice for the well-being of your body.

Nutritional values

Extra virgin olive oil is an extremely nutritious food, famous for its health-promoting nutritional value profile. A serving of 100 grams of extra virgin olive oil contains about 884 calories, derived mainly from fat. However, it is important to point out that these are monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid, which are considered a heart-healthy choice.

Extra virgin olive oil contains no cholesterol and offers a modest amount of vitamin E and vitamin K, both of which are known for their antioxidant properties. In addition, it contains various antioxidants and phenolic compounds such as oleocanthal and oleuropein, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as promote cardiovascular and neuroprotective health.

A distinctive aspect of extra virgin olive oil is its ability to resist oxidation, thanks to the presence of polyphenols, which increase its stability and help preserve its benefits even when used for cooking.

Despite being an energy-dense food, extra virgin olive oil is recommended as part of a balanced diet, as its consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing several chronic diseases, especially those related to inflammation and the cardiovascular system.

Chianti DOP olive oil

Chianti DOP oil is a product of excellence that embodies the richness and tradition of Tuscan agriculture. This extra virgin olive oil is obtained following the strict regulations of the Chianti Classico Protected Designation of Origin, which guarantees its authenticity and origin from the renowned Chianti Classico area, located south of Florence.

Characterized by an olfactory bouquet that opens with herbaceous notes, recalling the smell of fresh vegetables, the taste is balanced, elegant and harmonious. The fresh notes blend with a pleasant bitterness and a pronounced spicy note at the end, making it an ideal oil to accompany classic dishes of Tuscan cuisine, such as Florentine steak and cabbage and legume soups.

But that’s not all, Chianti DOP oil is so versatile that it can also enhance the taste of a chocolate cake. Winner of prestigious awards such as the Gold Award at the NYIOCC and the Ercole Olivario, it is an oil that brings to the table the unmistakable flavor of the tradition of a wonderful land.