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Spanish Olive Oil History
Spain is the largest producer of olive oil, or "liquid gold", in the world. The history Spanish Olive Oil is deeply linked to the history of Spain. While the cultivation of olive trees began in Greece, olive trees were introduced to Spain by the Phoenicians by approximately 1050 BC. The oldest reference to olive trees in Spain places them in Andalucía during the 1st Century BC. The Romans expanded and refined the cultivation of the olive tree, and relied on Spain to be the major supplier of olive oil to their empire by reportedly importing over 6 billion liters of olive oil over a 250 year period. The Moors sustained olive tree cultivation during their occupation of Spain and continued to refine techniques of olive oil production. Spain continues to be the largest producer of olive oil in the world, producing over one million tons annually from the over two hundred million olive trees spread throughout the country.
Spanish Olive Oil Production
While olive trees are present in almost every region of Spain, Andalusia is the center of Spain's olive oil production with over eighty-five percent of Spain's olive oil production occurring there. The province of Jaen in Andalusia is considered the "world's capital of olive oil". Olive trees can be seen for miles and miles on the landscapes of this southern region of Spain. Most Spanish Olive Oil originates from the Picual variety as it represents approximately 50% of Spain's olive oil production. Other popular Spanish varieties are Picuo, Hojiblanca, Arbequina, Lechin, Cornicabra, Verdial and Empeltre. A single variety tends to dominate each production region of the country.
Spain currently has over 30 Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oils. This designation ensures quality of Spanish Olive Oil by requiring that these olive oils be produced using specific production methods in certain regions using certain varieties of olives.
Due to Spain's wide range of climates and microclimates along with the large variety of olives used in production, Spain's olive oils offer a diverse assortment of flavor and aromas. Some Spanish Olive Oils are sweet and smooth while other Spanish Olive Oils are bitter and pungent. Many Spanish Olive Oils have a fruity and nutty green olive flavor.
Spanish Olive Oil Health Benefits
Spanish Olive Oil is an important component of the Mediterranean Diet which encourages the consumptions of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil as the main source of fat. Spanish Olive Oil contains monounsaturated fat which helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Evidence suggests that more monounsaturated fats included in the diet are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Enjoy Spanish Olive Oil drizzled over seafood, grilled vegetables, in salads, salad dressing, soups, or with a piece of crusty bread. igourmet offers authentic Spanish Olive Oil from Unio, Lagrima, Onix, L'Estornell, Arbosana and more! Available in organic, unfiltered, and PDO varieties, igourmet offers the most complete line of Spanish Olive Oils on the web. When searching for gourmet food online, look no further than igourmet.com.
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