Spanish Olive Oil, Interesting Facts


Millenarium Olive Tree

Millennial Olive Tree – Casabermeja

Because we are still in the middle of olive harvesting, and because I couldn’t sleep last night, here are some interesting facts about Spanish Olive Oil:

         Spain is the largest olive oil producer in the world.    

Forget Italy! With around 300 million olive trees, Spain produces on average about 40 – 44% of the world’s olive oil each year which is twice as much as Italy and four times as much as Greece. Spanish Olive Oil production works out to be 1.2 million tonnes annually.

Jaén province tops the list for olive oil production in Spain.

70% of all Spanish Olive Oil, comes from this small Andalusian province, with its infinite sea of olive groves spread across the countryside. Jaén produces more olive oil than all of Italy combined. Did you know that every commercial olive tree in Andalusia has its own GPS co-ordinates?! Regional officials use it to carefully monitor the trees to ensure correctness for EU subsidies.

Italian olive oil may not be quite as Italian as many people believe

With so much olive oil being produced in Spain, it’s only natural that a big part of it is exported. What’s interesting is that many countries bottle olive oil in their own country and brand it as if it were local, including Italy! Next time you get a bottle of Italian olive oil, look closely at the label to see exactly where the oil is coming from!

 Phoenicians introduced the Olive Tree in Spain some 3.000 years ago.

Olive cultivation and olive oil processing are inextricably linked to the history of Spain. The Phoenicians, people inhabiting ancient Phoenicia, modern day Lebanon, are said to have introduced the olive tree to Iberian Peninsula in 1050 B.C.

 Ancient Romans loved Spanish Olive Oil too.

Spanish oil amphorae have been found in all Roman provinces, although most were destined to Rome itself. In Rome, Mount Testaccio, is a testament to the size of the trade. This artificial hill made up of 40 million amphorae discarded during the first 250 years of the Common Era. Archaeological evidence found in the excavations at Monte Testaccio indicates that over this period, ancient Rome imported some six billion five hundred million liters of olive oil, of which 85% was produced in Andalusia.

How many kilos of olives for one liter of olive oil?

Between four and eleven kilos of olives are needed to make one liter of oil. This is done by first grinding whole olives and then pressing the resultant mulch or ‘pomice’. Each olive releases a only few droplets of oil. This mix of pulp, stone, water and oil is then spun centrifugally, bringing to the surface “aceite flor”, which is then further decanted and filtered to get rid of the impurities and the water.

Spanish Olive Oil has Protected Denominations Of Origin.

Spanish Olive oil is very similar to wine, and is certainly treated with the same, if not more, reverence. Similar to wine, olive oils have quality seals provided by the different “Denominación de Origen” (D.O.). There are in total 20 “D.O.” all around the country with 12 of them only in Andalusia.

 Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best!

             Don’t bother buying and using other types of olive oil, Extra virgin olive oil is the top among all olive oils. No chemicals or heat is used in its elaboration, hence the term ‘cold pressed’ seen on the extra virgin olive oil bottles (which means it’s a lot of hard work!). Smell and taste must be unblemished, with a maximum level of acidity of 0.8%.
There are three subcategories:
               Mono varietal: made from only one olive variety or “cultivar”
Coupage: made from two or more varieties
D.O.: “Designation of origin” made from the olives that are specific from one region, where it’s produced and bottled.

         How many years does an olive tree live?

The average lifespan of an olive tree is 500 years, but many live to be even more. The oldest olive tree in Spain is believed to be 1701 years old and is situated in Ulldecona – Catalonia. With minimal care, olive trees can live and produce fruit for well over a thousand years, and this has been demonstrated in the Middle East in places like the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

If you have 10 minute to spare, here is a interesting video about Spanish Olive Oil

Deep Roots


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