Olive oil


OLIVE OIL …  is excellent for your health, as good as it gets, and forms an integral part of the classic Mediterranean diet. Statistics have shown that Mediterranean populations such as Spain, Italy & Greece, have significantly lower rates of coronary heart disease.

Olive oil is rich in antioxydants, especially Vitamin E, and phenolic compounds which reduce the chance of cancer and heart disease.  The oil’s antioxydants help neutralize the damage caused by free radicals which attack cells and cause these devastating diseases.

huile-olive-provenceOlive oil compounds also increase enzymes that block the activation of carcinogens and improve their removal from the body, improving your resistance to cancer.

Olive oil’s health benefits probably come from more than 30 plant compounds in the oil. The antioxydant and anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds promote heart health and protect against cancer.

Extra-virgin olive oil should be used to replace fat intake from saturated fat sources and should be an important part of everybody’s diet: see an excellent and detailed article on the medical and nutritional benefits of olive oil at  nutra-smart.net/olive.htm.

“… The lowest rates of death from coronary heart disease are currently recorded in the countries where olive oil is virtually the only fat consumed.”  

Professor Francisco Grande Covián

Our Olive Oil and the AOC

Our reference number with the French authority which controls agricultural products, FranceAgrimer, is: 8367 O/O 2011.

If you would like some of our oil (subject to limited supplies), please send us an email, from the Contact page.

We have other points of sale in the UK and France, see our Links page localhost:8080/01olivesenprovence/en/links.php

Meantime, here is some info on how we produce the oil.

Bottles & treeWe planted our olive trees to conform to the stipulations of the French AOC regulations for the quality label of “AOC ‘L’Huile d’Olive de Provence“. See the site in AFIDOL, the French national organisation controlling olive growers (all in French, I’m afraid!).

The key issues in these decrets concern planting distances (30m2 per tree) and which varieties we are allowed to grow in this AOC region. Just as for wine, it is the ground and the varieties which give the taste.

We inherited, or found when we cleared the land, a number of very old trees, mostly the Belgentieroise variety, plus Pardiguier and Cayon, some with huge gnarled trunks over 400 years old, and others we haven’t identified.  Local people call these unnamed varieties sauvage (wild) which merely means they are probably very old types and no one can remeber what their names were!

In fact, all olive trees, the plant species Olea europaea, come from the Middle East, where the real wild trees originated. The first olive trees were probably brought to France on Phoenician ships which traded throughout the Mediterranean 3,000+ years ago.  But they were all named varieties once, and the hundreds of varieties we have now have been developed over the centuries, much as happens with varieties of wheat, apples, or oranges… but taking much more time.

In addition to the 100+ ancient olive trees we found, we planted other varieties: mostly Aglandau (France’s most popular olive tree), Cayon and Bouteillan, and then several varieties specifically local to the Var: Brun; Cayet Roux; Pardiguier; Rougeonne; Picholine and Petit Ribier.

All these have different qualities: for example, rate of growth, resistance to frost, rusticity, resistance to disease, production and taste.

And we mix the oil we get from these different varieties to achieve a quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil which in french is called “fruité vert“. This Oil has a fresh ‘green’ flavour with subtle hints of fresh apples and raw artichoke – ideal on salads, raw meat such as carpaccio or tartare, fish, pasta and rice dishes.

Once we install our own olive mill this year and we shall be able to experiment with single-variety olive oils, say from Bouteillan or Cayon, or to produce fruité mur oil with a darker, chocolate taste which will complement the truffles we are producing far better than the sharper fruité vert which goes so well with green salads and fish.

And all these variations in oil – perhaps including adding the essential oils of our lemons or oranges – would not be permitted by the somewhat narrow rules of the AOC but are covered by the organic accreditation we are going to have. The organic, or Bio, label applies logically to the whole farm, and so it will cover everything we produce.

Benefits of Olive Oil

An enormous body of research exists about the benefits of olive oil, neatly summarised by Professor Grande Covian in the quote above.huile-d-olive

See also good articles in the Madrid-based International Olive Council, “Olive Oil and Health”

Oil storage

Olive oil does not improve with age, like wine.  It is affected by temperature, light and air – oxidation – which reduces the flavour, so that ideally you should consume your olive oil inside two years.  Though there are those who keep their oil for much longer, but goodness knows what it tastes like!

If you use it quickly, say a lot in salad dressings, it’s fine in a glass bottle, where it looks good too.  But otherwise, keep your oil in a metal container with a good stopper, which is why we sell ours in black metal tins.  Research on olive oil storage.