What’s not to love about extra virgin olive oil? It’s super-healthy, delicious, and incredibly versatile. Living here on Mallorca, we always have at least four different brands of it in our kitchen. It seems unbelievable that in the UK, some 50 years ago, you’d probably find it for sale only in small bottles at chemist shops, for medicinal use.
Olive oil is also great for the skin, as was confirmed when I once had the pleasure of sitting next to Josep Oliver i Timoner at a lunch. He was the president of Oli de Mallorca from 2003 until last year, and I couldn’t help but notice – and comment – that the skin on his hands was smooth and barely lined. Was it from working with olives? He chuckled and confirmed that was the case.
10 facts about Mallorcan olive oil that you may not have known
- Olives were cultivated on Mallorca more than two millennia ago and 90% cent of the island’s olive trees are more than 500 years old.
- As long ago as the 19th century, olive oil from Mallorca was recognized for its high quality. In 1888 it won a prize at the Exposición Universal de Barcelona.
- Olive oil accounted for 80% of Mallorca’s exports in the 19th century.
- The Oli de Mallorca DO (Designation of Origin) was established in 2002 and its Regulatory Council guarantees the origin and quality of the designated oils. All are extra virgin, pure olive oil, and of a superior category, produced only by mechanical means and without the use of chemicals.
- The numbered label on the Oli de Mallorca bottle tops is the guarantee that it has passed the required quality controls. On the Gest Oli website you can type in the unique letters and numbers found on one of these bottle tops to find a host of information about that particular oil and its production. Doing this becomes addictive, if like me, you flirt a bit with a variety of Mallorca’s olive oils …
- There is such a thing as olive oil tourism (oleoturismo) on Mallorca: you can take an excursion along the official olive oil routes (rutas del aceite de Mallorca), stay in one of the several hotels that still have an old olive press, or eat in a restaurant using Oli de Mallorca oils in its cuisine.
- 216,683 litres of Oli de Mallorca oils were sold in 2015 – an increase of 12% over the previous year. Twenty-nine per cent of this was sold outside Mallorca: Germany, Japan, Norway, were the main importers.
- Mallorca has an annual autumn olive oil fair in the village of Caimari. Read about last year’s Fira de s’Oliva here.
- Each year the Oli de Mallorca DO Regulatory Council appoints an island chef as its ambassador. This year Macarena de Castro from the Michelin-starred restaurant Jardín in Puerto Alcúdia holds the title.
- You can use it in cocktails! Each summer Oli de Mallorca asks a well-known cocktail maker to create a signature cocktail with olive oil as an ingredient. Last week I attended the launch of the latest one, at cocktail & whisky bar Chapeau 1987 in Palma (under the same ownership as Ginbo). Matias Iriarte created a surprisingly delicious silky cocktail named Baix l’Olivera (Under the olive tree) – see recipe below.
Baix l’Olivera cocktail recipe
45ml of Gin Mare (infused with olive)
15ml of Cocchi Americano
30ml of mandarin and lime juice
20ml of syrup of Mediterranean herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
15ml of Oli de Mallorca
20 ml of egg white
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake energetically for one minute. Add ice cubes. Shake again to chill everything. Serve in a glass and sprinkle with a little dried olive powder. Drink!