The province’s 'liquid gold'

The province of Malaga, which currently has 100,000 hectares of olive groves, has excelled in recent years in the production of high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), which has been awarded various national and international prizes. Currently, some of that production is protected under the Antequera oil Designation of Origin.

There are different varieties, each one with its peculiarities. Among them the most relevant are the Hojiblanca Verdial  de Velez, la Nevadillo, la Lechín de Sevilla and la Manzanilla Aloreña.

The juice of the verdial de Velez, for example, is characterized by its fruity and sweet taste, which makes it suitable for salads or as a blending ingredient for some dishes. Within the region of Axarquia, it is especially abundant in both quantity and quality in the villages of Periana, Riogordo, La Viñuela or Alcaucín, among others. This variety, which must not be confused with others bearing similar name like the verdial of Badajoz or de Huevar, is unique because it’s the last one to be harvested in the province of Malaga.

Hojiblanca

For its part, Hojiblanca olive oil is one of the most important not only in the province of Malaga but also of Andalusia. In fact, it represents around 15 percent of total production of Andalusia. The extra virgin olive oil that is made with this variety should have, at an early harvest, a deep green colour and an outstanding golden hue. In a tasting this oil, which is especially abundant in the plain of Antequera, has a mild flavour with a fruity fresh grassy aroma, a slight bitterness from green fruit and other fruits, it feels slightly itchy in your throat and has a nutty aftertaste.

Among the most abundant in the province of Malaga, is the Manzanilla Aloreña variety, which is known for its use as table olives. In fact, it its protected name is due to that use. But also, it is also a very suitable type of olive to make a very unique extra virgin olive oil, which stands out for its particular sweetness, followed by a faint bitterness. Finally, the Lechín de Sevilla, with its characteristic whitish pulp, is known for being a fluid oil of vegetable flavours, with an average bitterness and a green almond aftertaste.

In addition to these olives, there are other secondary varieties like the Campiñesa, Koroneiki, Picuda, Vidueña, Nevadillo Blanco, Pico Limón, Cornicabra, Arbequina, Picual or Gordalilla among others in accordance with the province of Malaga’s varied topography. To all these we must add the Acebuchina or Oliva Silvestre (wild olive)

The varied topography of the province and its different climates has made it possible to delimit olive-growing regions with different types of olives. Thus, in the easternmost area in the Axarquía, the verdial de Velez and Nevadillo Blanco varieties predominate; in the Serrania de Ronda, however, the Lechín de Sevilla; the plain of Antequera the Hojiblanca variety; and the Valle del Guadalhorce and Sierra de las Nieves, the Manzanilla Aloreña.

The olive crop was introduced in the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians. Until then only the Acebuche existed in what is now Spain, i.e., a wild olive tree. It still survives in the province of Malaga. In fact, there are some producers in Monda and Casabermeja that produce Acebuchina oil. By having a smaller fruit it’s used less for oil than conventional olive oil. A unique product can be made with Acebuchina juice, which is what the inhabitants of the peninsula might have produced before the arrival of the Phoenicians.

extra virgin olive oil is now considered the jewel of the Mediterranean Diet. This ‘liquid gold’ is characterized for its numerous beneficial properties. Among these are its components, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, oleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acid -which is very healthy- or ‘Oleocanthal’, an anti-inflammatory element that has similar effects to ibuprofen. It also serves to prevent cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, increase levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and lose weight. For its part, the fruit of the wild olive (Acebuche) is characterized by even more healthy properties and low production.

in recent years the number of olive-growing companies has increased greatly in the province of Malaga. Many of the newly created have invested -from the beginning- in the development of green, early harvest oils, in order to offer high quality products and unbeatable organoleptic properties. Of course, the fact that the fruit is picked greener than usual, before it is turning colour, its average use is much lower than other oils. For that reason, they are more limited harvests launched at higher prices to the market compared to later oils.