Have you ever dreamed of learning how olive oil is made? As part of an optional excursion on our Food & Wine tour of Tuscany and Umbria, you get to visit the city of Lucca and pay a visit to the Colle Verde farm. During you'll visit you'll learn about how they produce organic wine and extra virgin olive oil.
Lucca is just a half-hour outside of Florence and offers a charming, traditional look at Italian life. On tour you'll have a couple of hours to walk around and peek into the many shops and visit the city’s cathedral, where some beautiful organ music was playing.
Colle Verde makes a small amount of olive oil (about 20 liters per tree) but they’re lucky enough to own their own olive oil press. Cristina, the farm’s owner, shares how olive oil is made:
- Olives are harvested in November and must immediately be pressed in order to keep them from oxidizing and losing their flavor.
- The entire olive is pressed (pit included) before the paste and oil are separated.
- The oil is then bottled while the paste is used as fertilizer for the olive trees.
Did you know: The best way Italians eat olive oil is to make a mixture with a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper, then dip fresh vegetables into the oil. It’s a great way to taste the olive oil without taking anything away from the flavor.
Some interesting facts about olive oil production:
1. To be considered extra virgin olive oil, the acidity must be no greater than 0.1 percent. The color of the oil doesn’t matter at all.
2. The difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular oil, besides the proper acidity, is whether it’s cold pressed. True extra virgin olive oil should only be cold pressed; too much heat burns the olives and changes the flavor.
3. Light is olive oil’s worst enemy. When buying olive oil, look for a dark or colored bottle that will block out the light and keep the oil fresher for longer.
4. To determine whether an olive oil is really a product of Italy, the label should say what region the olive oil was produced in, rather than just “product of Italy.”
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