The timeless magic of the annual olive harvest begins in Mallorca in earnest in September. Alongside fig and citrus trees, the ancient twisted trunks of the olive tree form the landscape of Mallorca. From hillside terraces on mountain slopes in Valldemossa and Deiá to large lowland olive estates, the island’s groves are burgeoning with fruits in autumn.
Small producers harvest by hand processing their olives through a local cooperative where the oil sales are shared with other farmers locally.
Four varieties of olives grow on the island, Mallorquine, Empeltre, Arbequina and Picual. Some are produced exclusively such as the Arbequina on the Aubocassa Estate near Manacor, and some are blended in a similar way to grapes by mixing two varieties like the Oli Solivellas which is a blend of the Arbequina and Picual olive.
There are several leading olive estates on the island, many of which are award winners who send oils around the world.
Olive cultivation expanded in the 16th century, centred around the Tramuntana mountains, and Port de Sóller became the main port of export for olives to France. ( The name Sóller is thought to derive from the Arabic “Suliar”, meaning gold, or liquid gold from the valley’s olives ! )
The oldest olive oil producer in Mallorca is Can Det in Sóller, which first appeared in records in the 16th century and apart from the addition of electricity, it still uses pretty much the same methods as 500 years ago!
Sóller has a second claim to fame in that studies have shown that the Olis de Sóller extra virgin oil made at Cooperativa Sant Bartomeu since 1899 is the only one of its kind to have curative properties containing high levels of anti-oxidants and mono-unsaturated fatty acids offering protection against heart disease.
But enough about the history and harvests, lets talk about consumption!
Olive oil is the central ingredient in the island’s diet and there is one particular traditional snack, Pa amb oli meaning “bread with olive oil” that you must try. Wholemeal country bread rubbed with a cut clove of garlic, rubbed with a ripe cut tomato and drizzled over with local salt and oil. The taste of Mallorca in a moment.
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