Editor: Kate Hollinger
Umbrian olives have been known as the best olives in Italy since ancient Roman times. Even today, Umbrian olives are notorious for making olive oil with an amazing potent flavor and digestive qualities and nutritional values to boot. The recipes for olive oil have been passed down through generations of Umbrian farmers, starting with the Romans and Etruscans. The region of Umbria is perched on a pyramid of hills 380 to 600 meters above sea level, which is surrounded by miles of olive groves. These olives come from the slopes of Apennine where the shoots are located, facing west.
Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by chilling the olives that are found in the foothills of Umbria and these are picked annually and entirely by hand. This process, known as pruning, involves the farmer climbing a ladder and picking the olives from the trees, working from the top down. The picking, transportation, washing and milling processes are all done so that they maintain the characteristics of the century-old olive oil.
Olive oil types are distinguished by their acidity level, and they are broken down into four categories. The extra virgin is the highest grade you can find and therefore the most popular, and has an acidity level of less than 1%. Virgin olive oil has a flavor that is more inconspicuous and a higher acidity, usually around 1.5 to 2%. Semi-fine is a blend of the two and has an acidity of 3% per 100 mL of oil. Finally, pure olive oil has a very modest flavor, color, and style and doesn’t overpower your dish.
Extra virgin olive oil, which is most prominent in Umbria, has an intense green color, a soft olive scent, and very rich, full flavors. It is best used for dipping uncooked breads in and flavoring soups, vegetables, salads, meat, and fish. To keep the product at its best, you should store it in a closed container in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. In some parts of Italy farmers even press small amounts of olives for the oil with fresh citrus fruit.
Experience Italy Cooking School & Tour– if you want to see first hand the olive oil making process in Umbria, join me September 23-Oct 6th for a 7 day ,6 night stay at the villa that houses The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm Cooking School in Italy. Join me for a hands on authentic Italian cooking classes, visits to local oilve oil mills and vineyards, local excursions and La Dolce Vita lifestyle at the villa nestled in the hills of Umbria. Participation is limited. Register with deposit by May 1st and receive a $200 discount. Go to Cooking School in Italy for photos, itinerary, prices and more or call Sue at 1-800-581-9020
Thanks to all who have come out to The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm Cooking School programs at Whole Foods Markets in your area for the month of Febraury. If there is a Whole Foods Market in your area, ask for the next The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm Cooking School Program and book signings. Go to http://www.marialiberati.com for upcoming dates
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,