Olives are widely grown with more than 50 cultivars to choose from. South Africa is no different and some top quality oils are produced right here in the country. At Leeurivier we focus on three cultivars, Frantoio, Leccino and Mission olives.
This is a cultivar developed in California by the Spanish missions. This is a widely used cultivar in South Africa and the trees can reach a height of about 12m. The fruit is typically small but the flesh-to-pit ratio is very low.
The Frantoio, an Itallian cultivar is self pollinating with a high, constant productivity. It is also well suited as a cross pollinator for other cultivars. The olive is highly rated for its tasty oil with a high antioxidant content that increases the shelf-life of the oil.
One of the older cultivars in Italy, the tree grows well in cooler climates. The oil yield is not particularly high, but it has a low removal force which makes it well suited for mechanical harvesting.
Olives has been part of the human diet for thousands of years and until a few decades ago, the average consumer only knew about a few varieties. Some were green, others black, some were pitted ant another stuffed with pimentos, but that was it. Olives are immensely diverse and versatile, plopped into Martinis, ground into tapenades or spreads, eaten out of hand or added to sauces and stews. The salty, sour, sweet pungent flavors makes them a very complex fruit and an essential tool in the cooks arsenal!
Classification of Olive oil
Extra Virgin olive oil is completely natural and unrefined. The oil must have a fruity character and display no defects. A low free acidity is also a must (0.8%)
Virgin olive oil is a natural unrefined oil with minimal defects and a free acidity below 2%
All other olive oils can be assumed to be refined or be a blend that contains a portion of refined oil.
Method of Extraction
Cold Pressed means the milling temperatures were below 30 C. This prevents the destruction of the antioxidants and flavor compounds which are temperature sensitive.
Choosing an oil
The best choice for olive oil would be Cold Extracted Extra Virgin Olive oil. For the best culinary results, the flavor and aroma of the oil should compliment the food. Just remember, as with wines, the quality of the product is defined by its chemical and physical properties, as well as the taste and fragrance. With olive oil you should consider the specific cultivar or blend of cultivars used, ripeness of fruit, area of origin and climate, influence the aroma, flavor, color and mouth-feel of the oil.