Spanish olive oil

Spain cultivates more than 60 varieties of olives grown in fertile soils across the country. These magical fruits are pressed into an extensive variety of high quality olive oils. Each variety possesses a unique flavour and colour that indicates the region where the oil was produced.Spanish olive oil is produced according to a very precise system of classification. Spain is the world’s largest producer and exporter of olive oil, so they really know olive oil!

Australian’s love the taste of Spanish olive oil and products like Extra Virgin olive oil are fast becoming household names. Did you know that within the categories of Extra Virgin, Pure and Light oils there is a range of different tasting varieties including Empeltre, Picual, Cornicabra and Hoijiblanca?

Delicatessens, speciality stores and now supermarkets are offering us the chance to take a culinary journey from Madrid to Andalusia by stocking some of the major Spanish olive varieties: Hojiblanca; Arbequina; and Picual. The chart below shows what subtle influence each variety can add to the flavour of foods, what regions it is grown and some suggested uses.

Variety: Hojiblanca

Regions: Seville, Malaga

Flavour: Bittersweet

Suggested use: Pastries and cakes

Variety: Arbequina

Regions: Catalonia

Flavour: Fruity/Herbaceous

Suggested use: Meat dishes

Variety: Picual

Regions: Jaen, Cordoba, Granada

Flavour: Peppery

Suggested use: Salads, vegetables

Eduardo Gonzalez, Commercial Office Embassy of Spain, says: “What this means for consumers is that a wonderful array of subtle flavour can be added to any recipe from Indian to Asian just be using Spanish olive oil in the cooking process.”

As a guide, fruity, pungent oils are best used in robust dishes with strong flavours, such as stews and casseroles, while milder oils complement dishes with lighter flavours, such as grilled fish and steamed chicken. Salads are a great way to showcase the keynote flavours of some of the more full flavoured Spanish olive oils.

Every food lover, enthusiastic amateur cook or indeed professional gourmet should have a selection of at least the three different Spanish olive oils in their kitchen so the flavour and aroma of every recipe can be enhanced. Just like you add spices from a spice rack, so too can you add flavour with flavoursome, healthy Spanish olive oils.