Sicilian Olive Cultivars – Frantoi Cutrera
Sicily was long in the shadows in terms of its Olive Oil production but since the 1980s, dramatic changes in the quality levels have taken place and now it has a rightful home amongst the best olive producing regions in the World. Whilst most olives are grown on the West of the Island, our attention was drawn to the South East to the Monti Iblei, south of Mt. Etna, where the soil is calcareous and ancient having emerged from the Mediterranean sea two million years ago. Constant movement of the land in these parts has created incredibly rocky terrain, which makes an amazing home to the indigenous cultivars of Sicily.
Siclian Olive Oil is highly fragrant, typically scented with tomato leaf as well as aromatic herbs such as oregano and it is less peppery than central Italian oil. The Cutrera family grows a number of indigenous cultivars, which they harvest when green to preserve the greatest flavour and health benefits. Here are some basic flavour profiles you might expect to find from the four Olive Oils we love from Cutrera:
This cultivar features a fabulous scent of tomato leaf and freshly mown grass. A touch of artichoke and rosemary mid-palate make it a benchmark choice for bruschetta.
The Cerasuola olive features fresh tomato and red pepper flavours. As the olives for this particular oil are grown at lower altitude and on south-facing groves, the oil is softer and more supple making it a brilliant choice for children and a great accompaniment to pasta, roast or grilled meat and vegetables.
The Nocellara Etnea cultivar at best is highly herbaceous with flavours of oregano, jerusalem sage and cut grass. It is fresh, bitter and truly delicious. Because of this it is brilliant with raw food, especially crudite, tartare or carpaccio of meat or fish.
These are wild olive trees that grow spontaneously and are harvested (with difficulty!) right at the beginning of October, green and full of polyphenols. Fresh and intense with an aroma of cut grass, green almond and chicory. Bitter and spicy a little goes a long way.