GOOD FOOD: OLIVE OIL
During our third transnational project meeting we visited the «Ecomuseum» in Vodnjan-Dignano where we attended a presentation on olive oil.
In our region, the production of olive oil started 2,500 years ago, or more precisely, during the Roman Empire.
The Romans highly appreciated the Istrian olive oil and considered it one of the best. There were five different categories of olive oil, all of very high quality.
The best olive oil was the oleum ex albis ulivis, which can be compared to today's extra virgin oil. It had a very special scent and was of the highest value.
Then there were the oleum viride, which was made from green olives, the oleum maturum, made from mature olives but of lower quality, the oleum cibarium, which was used to feed the slaves and the oleum lampante, not fit for human consumption.
We learned that after the Romans, Istria was ruled by Venice for 400-500 years. In that period the production of olive oil was an important economic resource.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, and Yugoslavia ruled for many years but they didn’t keep up the production of olive oil as it wasn’t appreciated enough.
Today the quality of the Istrian olive oil is very high. The number of olive oil producers has greatly increased and they are on the top of the list of the finest quality olive producers. In 2016 Istria was voted the best olive oil region in the world by the international guide Flos Oil.
The quality of the Istrian olive oil depends primarily on the temperatures in the area as well as on the region's geographical position. The olive oil needs cold temperatures in winter.
Another important factor is the soil. Istria's red soil gives contains many minerals which give a special aroma to the oil. In addition to this, to grow up well, every olive tree needs a very large piece of land around.
Modern machines have played an important role in the production of oil.
When the oil is ready it is kept in bottles or pots up to 18 months.
Today there are three categories of olive oil: the extra virgin, the virgin, and the lampante.
Olive oil in Istria is produced in the traditional way. Its production is not as huge and intensive as, for instance, in Spain or Portugal.