Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Sabina DOP : Italian cooking classes Taste Trails Rome
We at Taste Trails Rome Italian cooking classes feel we are very fortunate to be based in an outstanding area of natural beauty , rolling hills and hill top villages all surrounded by thousands of olive trees , many planted centuries ago. and Sabina has had a reputation for fine extra virgin oils going back to before the Romans .
Extra virgin olive oil is made simply by crushing olives and extracting the juice. It is the only cooking oil that is made without the use of chemicals and industrial refining.
It’s simply the juice of fresh, healthy olives which contains, more than any other grade, the health-promoting nutrients that olive oil is famous for.
Just like different grape varieties used for wines, there are more than 1,000 olive varieties, each with its own unique taste characteristics.
Virgin means the oil was made by simply pressing olives. It didn't undergo any of the industrial processes used to make 'refined' oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and the lower grades of olive oil labeled 'Pure,' 'Light,' and simply 'Olive Oil.' Virgin olive oils that have no taste defects and pass strict tests in terms of chemistry can be labeled 'Extra Virgin.'
Virgin olive oils that have modest taste defects and meets somewhat less strict chemical parameters are labeled 'Virgin.' Unfortunately, you don't see 'Virgin' oils for sale because too often producers market 'Virgin' oils as 'Extra Virgin' to command higher prices. Until standards enforcement catches up with the practice, real first class 'Extra Virgin' will be hard to come by.
Sabina DOP is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) that applies to the fine extra virgin olive oil produced in the Sabina region.This area approximately covers the territory originally occupied by the ancient Sabines tribe in the Province of Rome and the Province of Rieti.
Sabina DOP Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the first PDO region to gain the protected status in Italy.
The harvesting season in Sabina starts around October. and sometimes in November. No machinery is involved in this step: olives are generally hand-picked. This is a time consuming task, but this is a ritual for farmers in Italy, and includes singing of traditional songs and of course wine, bread , cheeses and hams. Once farmers have picked the olives from the trees, olives are put in wooden boxes to be transferred to the olive mill, where they are cold pressed in a modern centrifugal machine. When cold pressed, olives retain all of their properties and give us the high-quality extra virgin olive oil that Sabina DOP is famous for.
In October the lanes of Sabina are buzzing with the little tractors of locals going back and forth from the olive groves to the olive mills. At weekends its all hands on deck as many people who have moved away come home to help with the harvest and keep the Sabina olive oil tradition alive. October here for the Italian cooking classes is still warm and the autumn colours in the countryside are breathtaking, it is a beautiful time of the year and this why we run the Italian cooking classes into November.
In the olive mill the smell of olive oil is intoxicating! Although processing techniques have changed over the decades, the core of tradition in Sabina is virtually the same as it was 70 years ago.
Sabina extra virgin olive oil when simply paired with the daily fresh bread from the 500 year old Fara Sabina Forno and gently rubbed with garlic cloves and salt is just heaven -You have been warned !
Chefs are beginning to explore the almost limitless possibilities by pairing extra virgin oils to enhance their culinary creations and there are Sommeliers and training courses springing up all around the world.
The tasting of olive oil just like wine is an art and a scientific process. Both methods are used to analyse olive oil, detect impurities and separate extra virgin olive oil from plain olive oil. Importantly the nose and palate of a trained expert is akin to a sommelier in wine. When olive oils are sampled it should be followed by something like a slide of apple to cleanse the palate.
Olive should always be judged using a dark opaque glass. This takes away any visual prejudice as color is irrelevant in a quality olive oil. Generally the tasting glass is a bulb shape to allow the oil to be warmed in the palms of the hand and to reach its optimum temperature of 29°c.
- Raja: these olives are also known as the sweet olive.
- Leccino: this kind of olives yield a fresh-flavoured oil.
- Pendolino these olives produce one of the most delicate olive oils.
- Frantoio: this variety produces a multi-scented olive oil.
- Carboncella is the typical olive in Sabina and Lazio.
- Carboncella olives are green, small, tasty and fruity.
With Taste Trails Rome Italian cooking classes and holidays you will on a daily basis be tasting fine extra virgin olive oils as both Giacomo and Franco produce Sabina oils.
Want to experience for yourself the olive harvest ? Well you can on our Italian cooking classes . We run the Italian cooking classes through out the year from March to November. You will be made very welcome .
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