The nutritional benefits of olive oilA Sicilian Lifestyle Blog
Our discovery to selecting the finest Sicilian olive oil
It all began 25 odd years ago with all of us sitting around the family table eating olives our Nonni had brought back to the West Midlands from a trip back home. I remember being so intrigued and looking at my Nonni asking “I don’t understand, how do the olives we are eating become liquid for our olive oil!?” with a smile on their faces, my Nonni told me the story of the “raccolta delle olive” the olive harvest.
From that day I was hooked, later on in life I would visit the “frantoio” olive mills in Sicily and taste olive oil like you would as if it were a wine tasting and began the journey of selecting our Strazzanti extra virgin olive oils. Starting with our monocultivar extra virgin olive oil made from 100% Sicilian native Moresca olives. Bright green in colour, with hints of fresh herbs, walnuts and tomatoes.
Whether in Tuscany, Puglia or Sicily, autumn/winter is the season for harvesting the mature olives which have been patiently waiting to be picked throughout the year. Olives for eating or “table olives” are picked usually towards the end of September, whereas olives which will be turned into silky extra virgin olive oil tend to be harvested late October into November.
Hand harvesting, or “Brucatura”, is the most traditional and kindest way of picking olives. By removing the fruit from the branches of the tree in the most gentle way to not disturb or damage the twigs and olives themselves, the “Brucatura” method creates a far more superior olive oil than those which are harvested using the method “Scuotitura”. Scuotere, meaning to shake in Italian, removes the olives from its trees by the use of commercial machines that attach themselves to the trunk of the tree and vigorously shake the olives off the branches, which can cause damage to the twigs and olives, resulting in commercial “less expensive” olive oil as the labour is cheaper than hand harvesting.
The processing of the new season of olive oil
Once the olives are carefully selected and picked by the olive harvester, they are pressed after a maximum of 12 hours. The olive mill itself is a very important part of the process to obtain the best high quality product. Cold pressed olives use a method that guarantees a high-quality extra virgin olive oil by ensuring the processing temperature never exceeds 27 ° C, however the yield can be low, even from large olive trees.
This is why it is important to keep your extra virgin olive oil in a cool, dark place as to not exceed the 27 ° C and why the best quality extra virgin olive oil should not be used for cooking (in our opinion) and only for dressing, in order to ensure the quality, flavours and nutrients of the olive oil are obtained by keeping it below 27 ° C.
Our olive oil harvest
Our Sicilian infused oils are reminiscent of the flavours of Sicily inspired by the cultural influences that were introduced to the land from all the various settlements.
Our new collection of extra virgin olive oils are created from the heart of Sicily, on the hills near Caltanissetta, just moments away from the towns where our grandparents were born and raised. At 600 meters above sea level, in an area which has always been suitable and devoted to growing olives, the best olives are selected to produce our superior quality olive oil.
The importance of the use by date of olive oil
Why is it important to respect the use by date of extra virgin olive oil? After 1 year the flavour will begin to diminish and its health-promoting polyphenols will no longer be at their peak, therefore the olive oil degrades in its health benefits. Polyphenols help to manage blood pressure levels, promote good circulation, reduce chronic inflammation which is a risk factor for heart disease. As mentioned above if not used or stored correctly the shelf life may be reduced so keep it in a cool, dark place.
Nutritional benefits of olive oil:
- healthy fat (bone support)
- anti-inflammatory compounds
- increased cognitive function
- stabilize blood sugar levels
- healthy digestive health