While people are arguing about the arrival of the olive oil, I am here to tell you that it came from Greece. From there it spread into the Mediterranean countries and Croatia.
With today’s technology, it is possible to give a rough estimate of the age of an olive tree. In Croatia a 1600 year old tree has been planted by the Romans, on the island of Brijuni, which has an ideal climate for olive tree growing. Among the Roman ruins, there is a mill. It is very well preserved and you can recognize the primitive ways of olive oil production.
The Mediterranean region supplies 95% of the world’s olive oil production, with Greece, Italy and Spain being the heavy weights. Croatia is a very small producer, for domestic use only. According to a European Union law, an oil can claim to be of a specific origin, with only 0.2% of that specific origin oil in it. Croatian olive oil is 100% virgin.
In Croatia, which is a small country, everybody wants to be a very good agriculturalist and has a passion for producing the highest quality of olive oil.
Starting in the mid-October, in Istria, a region in Croatia, the harvest time is one of the most beautiful and fun times of the year. Getting in the field by 5:30 am with packed simple lunches, wine, water and the needed tools, for an adventurous, magical and productive day.
Other than using machines, the Croatians pick the olives by pulling the branches with rakes, until the olives fall in nets, placed under the tree. Another way is hanging a basket from the waist, hand pick the olives and place them in it. Cutting branches off the olive tree and hand pick the olives is another way. This way also helps increasing the following years harvest.
Lunch time is a celebration in the field. Late afternoon, after a long day’s work, everybody goes home tired, but satisfied from the accomplishment.
Dalmatia, another region in Croatia, is filled with olive trees, but the olive oil is not the best. Istrians are after quality, Dalmatians are after quantity. Olive oil production takes place the day of the harvest or the day after.
The best quality of olive oil is produced from the “Olea BB” variety, which is the best worldwide and lives permanently and only in Istria. Ascolana, Frantoio and Leccino, with spicy, rich and buttery flavors, Cipressino and Rojulja are bitter and spicy, Buza is fruity and aromatic, and all are also of high quality olive oil producers.