Campania and its age-old tradition in the olive growing – from blog

By Fausto Borella

The thriving land in Campania has an age-old olive production and with great potential.
The spread of the olive is attributed to Phoenicians and Greeks, to be then increased by the Roman Empire, as it is shown in the frescoes in the villas, the finds of charred olive in the excavations in Pompeii or the large terracotta amphorae used for oil and wine storage.
The olive trees are spread in the region for about 70,000 hectares, with more than 2 million tonnes of olives and about 600 working mills.
The main characteristic of the local olive-growing is the extreme complexity of local cultivars present in the territory. It is thanks to this multiplicity of varieties – together with the favourable climate – that you can get products that are different from one another and of high quality. Among the most common varieties, it is possible to recognize Ravece and Ogliarola in Irpinia, Sessana and Caiazzana in Caserta, Raciopella and Ortolana in Benevento, Minucciola in Naples and Pisciottana and Rotondella in Salerno.
The PDOs which the Campania region boasts are Penisola Sorrentina, Cilento, Colline Salernitane, Terre Aurunche and Colline dell’Ufita, to which other denominations will be added as they are now in approval phase.
The harvest time is drawing near. The suggestion is to collect the fruit during veraison, that is the moment when the oil turns its colour from deep green to a final colouring which varies, depending on the cultivar, from purple red to black. The olives will not have to be picked before veraison in order to obtain the maximum oil production, since – during this phase – oil accumulates in the pulp with a high rate of volatile components and polyphenols. Result: an excellent oil of top health value.
Polyphenols have an antioxidant effect to leave unchanged the organoleptic characteristics of the produced oil. Now everybody knows the relationship existing between polyphenols and bitter and spicy sensation. From an olive such as Ravece you will get an oil with these characteristics that – if well produced and preserved – will preserve for a long time. Why do not enhance a salad with such an oil, avoiding any type of spicing, already naturally present in our seasoning? Or perfect on a typical dish from Campania, the minestra maritata (or Wedding Soup), in which meat and vegetables ingredients couple in the soup.