understanding spanish olive oil

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There are a hundred different varieties of olive trees across the South Caucasus region, the Mediterranean, and the rest of the world. Some are very similar in terms of taste, smell, and appearance, and some are close to identical with just slightly different names. They also have different textures as well as growing characteristics and preferences. Olives vary in size, oil content, taste, chemical characteristics, ripening time, and many other factors.

There are over 200 varieties of olives grown in Spain, the main varieties of olives include Arbequina, Hojiblanca, Cornicabra, and Picual. But there is also a wider variety of olives that are popular in their respective regions which are also sought after from Manzanilla Cacereña, Lechín de Granada, Verdial from Badajoz, Castellana, Picudo, Royal, and many more.

Each olive cultivar has its own unique chemical and taste characteristic. However, it’s important to know that oils made from the same cultivar can also be quite different, this depends on the cultivation, harvesting, and processing variations. Olive oil made from a single variety is called monovarietal or single variety oil, and then there is coupage olive oil, which is crafted using oils from two or more varieties. At Azada, we use a single variety, which comes from the native variety of Catalonia, and is known as the smallest olive grown in Spain, the Arbequina.

Here are some facts about just a few of the most common varieties used in oil. When buying olive oil it is worth checking whether it is extra-virgin olive oil or not and to also take note of which kind of olive it is made from, because this is what gives the olive oil its unique flavour. There is a world of difference between the delicate, subtle Arbequina olives to the stronger-flavoured Picual variety.

Arbequina

This variety is a small olive and is native to Catalonia (Tarragona and Lleida) and Alto Aragon. It produces a very smooth and sweet oil, with green, yellowish hues. It is a fruity olive oil with aromas of green apple and almond, which are mild and delicate.

It works wonders with any type of salad, grilled, steamed and fried vegetables, as well as desserts. Try it and see…

We have a wonderful range of flavoured olive oils using the Mediterranean’s finest ingredients from basil, lemons and oranges to red chilli. But if you fancy an oil with optimum ripeness, enjoy our extra virgin olive oil made from 100% olive juice, which is the highest quality amove olive oil. It has excellent flavour and aroma, providing a feast for the senses. Discover more here

Hojiblanca

Its variety is grown in the provinces of Málaga, Córdoba, Granada and Seville. Its name is taken from the white colour of the leaves. It is characterised by its taste and aroma of freshly mowed grass and artichoke. Its first taste on the palate is sweet, fruity, and slightly tart with a smooth, lingering taste of almond on the palate. Hojiblanca olive oil adds life to any salad, pickle, carpaccio dishes and gazpacho.

Cornicabra

Also known as the ‘little horn’, because of its curved shape, this olive oil comes from the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real. It yields greenish-yellow oils with strong aromas of fresh herbs, ripe fruit (apples), and bitter almonds. It is well-balanced with a hint of sweetness and a herbal olive taste on the palate which goes well with any roast dishes. If you like this olive, its extra virgin variety is highly aromatic. 

Picual

It is the most popular variety of olive in Spain and the world. Half the world’s olive oil is made from this particular variety. It originates from Jaén, Córdoba and Granada, although its growth has spread to other areas such as Castilla-La Mancha and Badajoz. Its name comes from the fruit’s pointed tip shape. This olive oil has a great personality, it’s full-bodied with a light peppery taste. It can withstand high temperatures making it an ideal variety for preserving raw or cooked foods and perfect for Asian dishes.

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