Friday, June 08, 2007

Cultivars - Frantoio Olives

The various types of olives trees are called cultivars. I think it is interesting that not many olive oils mention what fruit from which plants goes into making oil. Mono-cultivar oils exist but they are quite rare. Most olive oils are made up of a mix of different olives. For example, Amelia Oil is composed of frantoio, leccino, rajo and moraiolo. This is what gives our oil complexity and balance.

Usually the type of cultivar depends on the climate and geographic location of the ulivetto. Typical Umbrian cultivars include: leccino, frantoio, dolce agogia, moraiaolo, rajo and San Felice.

Frantoio (featured in the photo above) is one of the most common cultivars in all of Umbria. It is well suited to hills but adapts easily to different terrain. Frantoio olives give Umbrian oil much of its fruity taste. The olives are quite small but give a substantial yield of oil. Interestingly, all olives start off life green and end up black. The frantoio olives I picked in Amelia were usually just starting to change coulour.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to write more about cultivars and olive trees. Stay tuned.

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