Campania and its millennial tradition of olive cultivation

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The florid soil of Campania can boast a millennial production of olives that boasts great potential.
The spreading of olive tree plantations is attributed to the Phoenicians and Greeks, and later grew with the Roman empire as is witnessed by the frescoes in many villas, the traces of charred olives found in the excavations of Pompeii, or the large terracotta amphorae used to preserve oil and wine.
The plantations of olive trees are distributed in roughly 70,000 hectares, with over 2 million quintals of olives grown and about 600 productive olive mills.
The main characteristic of local olive-growing tradition is the extreme complexity of the cultivars. It is precisely thanks to this multiplicity of varieties, along with the favorable climate, that it is possible to obtain several different kinds of product always of high quality. Among the most widespread, one distinguishes the Ravece and Ogliarola in Irpinia, Sessana and Caizzana in the area of Caserta, Raciopella and Ortoloana in the area of Benevento, Minucciola in the area of Naples and Pisciottana and Rotondella in the area of Salerno.
The DOP (protected designation of origin) it boasts are the Sorrento Peninsula, Cilento, Hills of Salerno, the Terre Aurunche and the Hills of Ufita, which will be joined by others currently awaiting approval.
The time of year for olive harvesting is drawing near. Our suggestion is to pick the fruit at veraison or, in other words, when the olive ripens and changes from its intense green to its final color which, depending on the cultivar, varies from a purplish red to black. The olives are not to be harvested before veraison to reap the maximum production of oil, because it is precisely at this stage that the oil stores up in the pulp with a high content of volatile components and polyphenols. The result: an excellent and richly wholesome olive oil.
The polyphenols have an anti-oxidant function to keep the organoleptic qualities of the oil produced unaltered. The close relation between the content of polyphenols and the bittering and spicy tingling is a known fact. An olive like ravece yields a kind of oil oil with these very characteristics which, if carefully produced and preserved, will last long. Why not, then, make your salad savory with an oil like this one, without the need for any other type of spice, which is already naturally condensed in our seasoning? Or the perfect touch on a typical dish of Campania, the "minestra maritata" or "Italian wedding soup", in which the ingredients of meat and vegetables blend in the soup.

Fausto Borella

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