The History Of Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It is known in history that the Duke of Medinaceli discovered an incredible tasting Olive Oil and came back with the seedling plants to the Iberian peninsula, where he was Lord of Arbequa. Arbequa, which today is Arbeca, is located northwest of the coastal city of Tarragona, near the city of Lleida in Catalonia, Spain.
Arbequina olive trees rooted throughout the region, but the large olive oceans which flow through the Southern hills of Andalucia were filled with Picual trees and this became the primary variety of Spain.
With the revival in artisan Olive Oil popularity in the 20th century, Arbequina olives and their oil went through a period of trying to redefine themselves -- so much so that this tree now breeds most New World olive groves: California, South America, Australia, South Africa, and more.
The tree is solid, hardy, and reaches maturity to develop fruit at a younger age than other varieties. The fruit is small and offers a good amount of oil yield of up to even 25%! This yield is available early in the harvest period.
While most varieties need to mature longer on the trees in order to create a higher yield, after sacrificing essential nutrients, Arbequina can be harvested earlier and retain it's high yield, nutrient rich oil with the perfect flavor characteristics.
This early oil is clean, fresh, and herbal with notes of apple, sweet almond, and artichoke undertones. It is fruity without much bitterness and slight pungency. It's fragile flavor profile make it the ideal everyday Olive Oil. This variety of oil should be consumed everyday mainly because its perfect flavor gives it a much shorter shelf life than other Olive Oils.
These olives contain fewer polyphenols than other varieties, as a result, yielding an oil with a small amount of bitterness and less of a defense against oxidation. In addition, it also shows to have a higher content of linoleic acid, a shorter chain omega-6 fatty acid, which simply because it is shorter will break down faster in the oil than average and long chain fatty acids.
The tree's tiny and hardy characteristics make it the ideal variety for high density and extreme high density planting. These New World plantings now give everyone two annual harvests: October/November in the Northern Hemisphere and May/June in the Southern Hemisphere.
Arbequinas wonderful fruity flavor make it the ideal olive oil for tipping over creamy vanilla bean ice cream, with just a sprinkle of sea salt to finish it off.
- Alexis Barros