If you’re missing Italy, bringing some Italian oil into your life is an easy way to experience Italy at home, since Italian oil is exported all over the world. Did you know olive oils are blended like wines to create the ideal taste for various dishes? That Italian oil in your cupboard was not likely created at random! In Italy you can even go oil tasting where special cups are used to sample the fresh pressed oils. Today, in two minutes two Italy, we’re going to have a look at 5 of the most common olives in Italy!
Grown all across Italy, but believed to have originated in Tuscany, Leccino is one of the most popular olive varieties in the world. As an oil, these olives produce an extremely mild flavor and golden color. The finished oil is often blended with other oils to create a more robust flavor. If you’ve had Tuscan oil, you’ve almost certainly sampled Leccino, as it is extremely popular in this region.
Second to Leccino, Frantoio olives are some of the most common in Italy, especially in Tuscany. These olives are fruity and leave a stronger aftertaste than the mild Leccino olives. The oil is an intense green, with a buttery finish. Frequently Frantoio and other light oils are blended together, which creates something soft, pleasant, and easy to cook with oil.
Moraiolo is another olive that originated in Tuscany, these olive trees grow in central Italy, throughout Tuscany and Umbria. When the olives are picked they are a vivid black-violet color. After pressing, the Moraiolo oil is bitter and spicy and is wonderful for adding extra flavor to blends. Moraiolo is most often found mixed with other oil types from the same region including, Frantoio and Leccino, which creates a delicious, flavorful and multidimensional product.
Nocellara olives, hailing from Sicily, are large green olives that have a mild flavor. The oil is characterized by a fruity taste, lightly spicy and with a slight aftertaste of almonds and tomatoes.
Lastly, Coratina olives are found in the south of Italy, mainly in Puglia and Basilicata. These olives are green, fruity and the oil they produce has an intense green color. The oil is spicy and a touch bitter
These are just a few of the countless varieties of Italian olives. As I described, each of them has a taste profile and thus a purpose to bring out the flavors of your dish. Next time you’re at the store, have a look and see if you recognize any of these popular olives, and think about pairing your olive oils to your meal – it’s a matter of taste really, so why not explore and see what you prefer! Buon appetito!