Nocellara, Frantoio, Taggiasca and the other Italian olive varieties

Categories : Olive Oil

A centuries-old Italian olive tree
Photo: A majestic, centuries-old olive tree that is over a hundred years old , can live up to 1000 years

Frantoio, Taggiasca, Nocellara are just the most famous Italian olive varieties. They are also called cultivars. A term that comes from Latin (varietas culta) and means "cultivated variety".

In Italy there are more than 538 varieties of olive trees that produce olives for oil. Most olives cannot be eaten raw. Some others do (and they are very good). These types of olives are called table olives.

Each variety of olive tree produces its own variety of olives, from which the oil paste is obtained through a special process called percolation.

The large number of Italian olive varieties is one of the reasons why extra virgin olive oil - the name for Italian extra virgin olive oil - is the best olive oil in the world is. In fact, in other countries such as Spain and Greece, which are important olive oil producers, there is no olive variety comparable to the Italian one.


The main Italian olive varieties

Le principali cultivar di olive italiane sono:

Leccino Center / Northern Italy Production of oil and table olives
Nocellara del Belice Sicily Production of oil and table olives
Taggiasca Liguria Production of oil and table olives
Casaliva Lombardy,Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto Production of oil
Coratina Puglia Production of oil
Pisciottana Campania Production of oil
Moraiolo Tuscany, Umbria Production of oil
Frantoio Tuscany, Umbria Production of oil
Itrana Lazio / Campania Production of oil and table olives
Carolea Calabria Production of oil
Moresca Sicily Production of oil

These different varieties of olives have unique characteristics that vary by location and region.

Italy is the country with the largest number of olive tree varieties in the world. More than 500 varieties of olives grow on our olive trees, which is about 42% of the world's olive varieties. In Spain and Greece, countries where a lot of olive oil is produced, there are significantly fewer olive varieties.

Italian olives of the varieties Coratina, Itrana e Leccino
Coratina, Itrana and Leccino are the most common types of olive oil in the production of extra virgin olive oil

Italian olives of the Taggiasca, Nocellara and Carolea varieties
Other Italian olive varieties: Nocellara (Sicilian Olive), Taggiasca (Ligurian olive), Carolea (Calabrian olive)

Moraiolo and Frantoio, the olives of Tuscan oil

The most famous olive varieties in Tuscany are Moraiolo and Frantoio. Frantoio Franci produces his extra virgin olive oil from different varieties of olives. Among them Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino. But also Olivastra seggianese, a Tuscan oil with a light and delicately fruity taste, the production of which was awarded by Flos Olei for the best method of extracting oil from olives.

Dievole, a producer well known for its wine production, produces its olive oils from Leccino, Moraiolo and Frantoio -Olives here. Of particular note is the monovarietal oil obtained from the Coratina olive variety, which has been awarded the Tuscan Olio d'Oro prize.

Italian olive variety Moraiolo
Moraiolo variety very common in central Italy (Lazio and Umbria)
Italian olive variety Frantoio
Variety Frantoio very common in central Italy (Tuscany)

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Nocellara del Belice and other olives from Sicily

The most famous olive variety in Sicily is the Nocellara del Belice, but there is also the Nocellara Etnea. Other high-quality varieties used to produce Sicilian oil are Biancolilla, Moresca and Ogliarola.

Sometimes, as in the case of Titone's excellent Sicilian PDO extra virgin olive oil, the oil is obtained from different varieties of Sicilian olives.

A special mention deserves the Tonda Iblea variety, from which the excellent extra virgin olive oil Primo DOP Monti Iblei comes from Frantoi Cutrera in south-eastern Sicily.

Cutrera also produces several Sicilian monovarietal oils: these include the excellent Nocellara del Belice monovarietal oil with an intense fruity flavor, a monovarietal Gran Cru Biancolilla and a delicate Sicilian oil with a slightly fruity flavor, the extra virgin Gran Cru Cerasuola.

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Olive varieties from Apulia: Coratina, Ogliarola, Leccese, Cellina

There are many varieties of olives in Puglia. Leccina and Coratina are probably the best known.

Puglia has a great tradition in oil production and the producers of Apulian oil are justifiably world famous. For example Muraglia, whose oil mill is in Andria, or Galantino, known not only for the production of an excellent Apulian extra virgin olive oil, but also for its wonderful bottles that are true works of art.

Or De Carlo, in the Bari area. The varietal extra virgin olive oil Coratina Tenuta Torre di Mossa was awarded the prize for the best monocultivar oil in the world.

It is also worth mentioning the monocultivar Coratina Bio Tenuta Arcamone, which has received many international awards and has been awarded 3 leaves by the prestigious Gambero Rosso wine and gastronomy guide. Lovers of the Coratina olive, a variety with an intense, fruity taste, should try the excellent Apulian oils from the Tre Colonne oil mill.

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The Garda olive variety: Casaliva

The oil production on Lake Garda, between Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Lombardy, is of the highest quality. The typical Italian olive variety of these regions is the Casaliva, but there are also Frantoio and Leccino olives.

One of the best known oil producers is Agraria Riva del Garda, whose 46° Parallelo extra virgin olive oil is also available in the monovarietal Casaliva version.

Finally, another Garda DOP extra virgin olive oil from the same mill. An award-winning Casaliva monocultivar of truly exceptional quality: Uliva 1111.

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Taggiasca: Ligurian olive oil is obtained from this olive

The variety of olives most commonly used for the production of Ligurian olive oil is Taggiasca. Taggiasca olives are very high quality oil and table olives. Would you like to taste a Ligurian oil obtained from this variety? Today we recommend not one, but two.

The first is Cassini's single-variety Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil. It is lightly fruity, has an acidity of 0.29%, is rich in polyphenols and is yellow in color with green reflections. The olives are harvested using the hand-picking method in a continuous two-phase cycle.

The other is the Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil DOP Riviera Ligure by Anfosso. It is an oil with a lightly fruity flavor obtained with a continuous cycle mill from Taggiasca olives harvested by hand.

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Is there a better variety of olives for making oil?

The variety of Italian olives for oil production is very large. But is there a better variety of olive for oil production?

From a taste point of view, the question is undoubtedly subjective. A different oil is obtained from each variety, which differs in taste and aroma.

An olive oil made from Leccino olives tastes very different from an extra virgin olive oil made from Nocella del Belice or Taggiasca olives.

In fact, there are olive varieties with a better yield, i.e. from which more extra virgin olive oil can be obtained than other varieties. In reality, in terms of oil production, the olive yield depends mainly on the weather conditions: precipitation and temperature have a significant impact on the yield.

For example, when the season is hot and dry, the olive yield is lower.

Another aspect to consider is the harvest time: the yield of the olives is better when they are ripe.

The varieties with the highest yield for the production of extra virgin olive oil are:

  • Leccino
  • Leccio del Corno
  • Carolea

The olive tree varieties play a very important role in the characteristics of the fruit and therefore its size, pulp-to-stone ratio and degree of ripeness.

The ingredients are also quite different in the different types of olives. An olive tree produces on average 30 to 60 kg of olives per year. About 7 kg of olives are needed to produce one liter of extra virgin olive oil.

The demand for extra virgin olive oils with high organoleptic and nutritional qualities has led to a reassessment of the importance of our cultivars: the cultivation of different types of olive trees is now rightly considered an element that qualifies the production of extra virgin olive oil.

☝ So there is no better variety of Italian olives for oil production. It is the great variety of Italian varieties of pressed olives that makes Italian oil the best olive oil in the world.

Green olives or black olives? A question of maturity

The basic color of the olives is green and it depends on the presence of chlorophyll. How do olives turn black? Olives turn black as they ripen.

The ripening process of the olives is called veraison or color change.
Olive ripening process in Italy, color change
The photo shows the ripening period. As the olives mature, the green color of the olives darkens, fading from purple to black.

Olive harvest in Italy

The timing of the olive harvest is crucial for the quality of a good extra virgin olive oil. The olives must be harvested at the beginning of the maturation. Then when ripening begins and the color of the olive changes from green to purple. It is harvested at the end of the year in October and November. Sometimes olives for oil are harvested in December.

There are many ways to harvest olives:

  • The harvest by hand - also called "brucatura" - is done with a manual harvesting device (Abbacchiator). This small tool, which resembles a comb at the end of the handle, helps to separate the olives from the tree.
  • With olive shakers that enclose the tree and shake it mechanically. The olives for the oil fall from the tree and are collected in special cloths.
  • With machines with counter-rotating rollers that quickly drop all the fruit from the olive trees. They are used in large row crops.
Hand-picked olives in Italy
Hand-picked olives, peeling with shakers, um best to preserve the olives and to guarantee a high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Monocultivar: single-variety extra virgin olive oil

Monocultivar olive oil is made from just one type of olive. That is why it is also called pure olive oil. For example, an extra virgin olive oil of the Taggiasca variety is made only from the famous Taggiasca olive variety. Of course you can buy Olive oil from Italy in our online shop both the original Taggiasca olives and Buy the monocultivare Taggiasca olive oil.

A monocultivar olive oil Coratina, on the other hand, is made only from olives of the Coratina variety. There is nothing like tasting a few drops of monocultivar oil on a slice of bread to discover the authentic taste of the main Italian olive varieties.

Table olives

Some varieties of olives have the property of dual use: they can be used both for the production of olive oil and as table olives.

One of the most famous varieties suitable for dual use is certainly the 'Itrana' olive, also known as 'Oliva di Gaeta'.

Italian specialties with olives

Italian specialties in olive oil
Some specialties in oil: tomatoes and zucchini. The preservation in oil preserves its nutritional and organoleptic properties.

Olive oil is also used to preserve products that are pickled in oil. Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for preserving many vegetables such as: B. cherry tomatoes, dried or semi-dried tomatoes and artichokes. But also for tuna, anchovies and bottarga.

☝ In order not to mask the taste of the product preserved in oil, we recommend the

Use of an extra virgin olive oil with a light fruity taste.

Olives are also used in the production of Italian culinary specialities, the most famous of which are olive paste, pesto and olive cream are.

There are many varieties of pesto made with extra virgin olive oil, the most famous being the Pesto Genovese.

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