Olives grown in Italy are Twenty-five percent of in the worlds. As of 2004, over 350 varieties of olive trees are cultivated throughout the country.
Southern Italian olives yield far more oil than do northern ones. A tree in the south will produce about 20 litres of oil. The average oil yield per tree in Tuscany is only 1 litre.
Olives in Tuscany are harvested younger than they would be in the south, to avoid the frosts that would kill the olives. This gives the olives a lower oil yield, but a more assertive flavour. Tuscan oil is deemed to be the best, perhaps owing to the peppery taste that comes from the oil from Moraiolo Olives, harvested early, that is blended in. Classic blends of Tuscan olive oil use 4 olives: Frantoio, Correggiolo, Moraiolo, and Leccino.
Olive oil from Liguria and Veneto is generally the mildest of all Italian oils.
Olives are native to the Mediterranean region. The history of this fruit goes back almost as far as Western Civilization, its development being one of man’s first accomplishments. Evidence from archaeological digs proves that olives were grown in Crete in 2500 B.C. From there, the popularity of the olive spread to Greece, Rome and other Mediterranean districts.
The olive tree is an evergreen that can grow as high as 50 feet. Proper pruning methods can keep the trees around 29 feet. Trees have a graceful, swaying appearance that can be rather appealing. Gnarled branches and the green-gray color of the foliage give the olive tree a distinctively unique appearance.
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