By Maria Liberati - Umbrian olives have been known as the best olives in Italy since ancient Roman times. Even today, Umbrian olives are notorious for making olive oil with an amazing potent flavor and digestive qualities and nutritional values to boot. The recipes for olive oil have been passed down through generations of Umbrian farmers, starting with the Ancient Romans and Etruscans. The region of Umbria is perched on a pyramid of hills 380 to 600 miles above sea level, which is surrounded by miles of olive groves. These olives come from the slopes of the Apennine mountains where the shoots are located, facing west.
Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by chilling the olives that are found in the foothills of Umbria and these are picked annually and entirely by hand. This process, known as pruning, involves the farmer climbing a ladder and picking the olives from the trees, working from the top down. The picking, transportation, washing and milling processes are all done so that they maintain the characteristics of the century-old olive oil.
Olive oil types are distinguished by their acidity level, and they are broken down into four categories. The extra virgin is the highest grade you can find and therefore the most popular, and has an acidity level of less than 1%. Virgin olive oil has a flavor that is more inconspicuous and a higher acidity, usually around 1.5 to 2%. Semi-fine is a blend of the two and has an acidity of 3% per 100 mL of oil. Finally, pure olive oil has a very modest flavor, color, and style and doesn’t overpower your dish.
Extra virgin olive oil, which is most prominent in Umbria, has an intense green color, a soft olive scent, and very rich, full flavors. It is best used for dipping uncooked breads in and flavoring soups, vegetables, salads, meat, and fish. To keep the product at its best, you should store it in a closed container in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. In some parts of Italy farmers even press small amounts of olives for the oil with fresh citrus fruit.
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Attribution: I, Alex Ex