• Olives’ tree in the garden

    Olives’ tree in the garden

Extra virgin olive oil in the Abruzzese kitchen

Olive oil is widely used across the world in cooking, but is especially popular in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Spain and, of course, in Italy too.

The Abruzzo area has the ideal climatic conditions for the production of olives, and Villa Ducale is surrounded by 2 acres of succulent soil with 70 thriving olive plants used for the annual production of superior tasting first-cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil.

We have inherited plants from our parents and have been growing them ourselves for 15 years, and personally harvesting them between the end of October and November. Our expertise and knowledge in processing the olives allows us to create a superb extra-virgin olive oil and we have decided to share our passion and the taste of our product with our guests, allowing them to purchase a sample of oil while on vacation and get some more delivered if they want.

What are the benefits of using olive oil?

You will commonly find olive oil being used in many recipes of Mediterranean countries’ traditional culinary delights, but it can also be added to salads, soups and stews to add that extra flavour. Especially extra-virgin olive oil that has an intense flavour. But why is olive oil so popular, and what is the difference between the different varieties available, including virgin and extra-virgin?

The health benefits associated with olive oil are hard to ignore, and could be one of the reasons why olive oil is so popular and why many people choose to incorporate it into their diets. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that encourage ‘good’ cholesterol, as well as containing polyphenols – antioxidants that can help to lower blood pressure.

By adding additional ingredients like lemon, parsil or chilli, olive oil can be produced in different flavours, and the one you choose will depend on your own personal taste and the cooking purpose. The flavour will depend on various factors including the type of olives used, how ripe they are and the growing conditions. Tastes can range from the intense to a more subtle or fruity flavour.

How is olive oil produced?

There are two ways you can extract the oil: cold extraction and hot extraction. The difference lays in the thermal conditions used while grinding the olives, and the final result that may preserve the natural taste as well as the organoleptic properties in different measures. Whether the olive oil is obtained from one method or another cannot really be known unless specified on the label. If the product you are using is a commercial one, it would not be uncommon to see the words: “First cold pressed”, “Cold extracted.” But what is cold?

“First cold pressing” is a virgin or extra virgin olive oil obtained less than 27 degrees Celsius with a first mechanical pressing of the olive paste, with a system of traditional extraction with hydraulic presses.

Whereas the word “cold extraction” applied to a virgin or extra virgin olive oil means oil obtained from the centrifugation of the olive paste.
Both the methods “pressed or cold extraction” are therefore synonyms of the procedures used to obtain the oil, meaning there is no further processing or refining processes when producing virgin or extra-virgin olive oil.

There is another way for extracting oil: the hot-pressed method. This is another extraction process, more effective and capable of ensuring the maximum yield from the olives, though the quality of the product is not the best one as the “high” temperatures and – sometimes – the use of chemical solvents can alter the final taste.

What is the difference between virgin and extra-virgin olive oil?

The difference between virgin and extra-virgin olive oil is that extra-virgin has gone through additional laboratory and taste tests to ensure there are no defects. Extra-virgin olive oil is considered to be of a higher quality with a more superior taste. It is described as having a free acidity, or at maximum no more than 0.8% acidity.

If you are in the Abruzzo region enjoying your holidays at Villa Ducale and would like to purchase our extra-virgin olive oil for use once at home, please let us know as on request we can arrange an international delivery sending even a pallet if necessary.

In the meantime, discover with us some of the typical Abruzzese dishes where olive oil is used and that we hope you can enjoy during your stay.