In 2010 the Mediterranean diet was recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of humanity. Olive oil is one of the essential components, and it greatly contributes to the quality of this diet and the wellness it provides to Mediterranean communities. Olives are magical gifts of nature that grant us multiple benefits. Olive oil is not only great for our health, but it is incredibly delicious. It can be used as a cold appetizer, dressing salads, creating sauces or complementing meat and fish. The benefits of olive oil are bountiful, from amazing skincare to baby hacks, it is not only tasty but incredibly nourishing and packed with healthy benefits.
The olive tree has always been sacred in Mediterranean communities; a symbol of strength, peace, wisdom, and fertility. It is said that only olive oil from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia– Terra Magica to the Romans – graced the tables of the Caesars. It was also exported across the Roman Empire. And according to an ancient custom, maidens had to plant several olive trees before their wedding night for fertility. Grown in modest soil, the fruit of the olive tree has been prized as a true treasure. At certain times in history, olives were used as a currency for bartering, earning them a place in both Greek and Egyptian mythology.
After the Romans left, olive cultivation in Croatia wavered and ordinary sunflower oil from Slavonia from the 1950s onwards flooded the market. Only a few family olive groves remained. World-class production began resurging since the 90s, as Croatia began reviving its national industries and in turn, young producers jumped on the great opportunity to not only create a profitable business but to continue the formidable work and honor the heritage of their forefathers.
Despite its long tradition and having some of the finest extra virgin olive oils in the world, Croatia is often overlooked as an olive oil-producing country. The quantity of olive oil it produces represents only a small drop compared to Spain, the world's largest producer.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form of olive oil, which is what makes it so valuable. It retains its natural antioxidants and vitamins, which are often lost during processing, making it more healthful than regular olive oil.
However, much like wine tourism, olive oil tourism is quickly expanding in Croatia. With its beautiful coastlines, river valleys, untouched countryside, hilltop towns, and gently-rolling waves of olive groves and vineyards spawn all over the undulating terrain, Croatia has been making a name for itself with the exceptional quality of its olive oil. And each oil-producing region in Croatia is unique and has helped the fame of Croatia’s finest gifts to spread internationally. So where in Croatia is olive oil made? Keep reading to find out.
The Istrian Peninsula
Olive oil production in Istria dates back thousands of years. The oil from this region has long been known as high-quality, which is even mentioned by Roman gourmand Marcus Gavius Apicius in the I century, who is considered to be the writer of the first cookbook. And ever since time Istria was a modest province of the Roman empire, Istria has been famous for its wine production and its olive production. Both the wines of Istria, like red wine Teran and the olive oil of Istria were highly prized by the citizens of Rome and today you can still see evidence of the olive oil production of the time within the region.
The cities of Brijuni, Barbariga and Poreč have been traditionally known since ancient times as the main producers of olive oil and the amphorae used to transport them throughout the Mediterranean. Some of the best known indigenous olives are buža, istarska bjelica, oblica, crnica, rošinjola, buža puntoža, all of these olives have helped Istrian olive oil earn many prestigious accolades due to their exquisite taste, aroma and color.
Dubrovnik-Neretva: Croatia’s Crown Jewel
Dubrovnik and its surroundings are also known for their organic olive oils, many of which have received awards in international competitions. Although small in size, the island of Šipan hides numerous curiosities related to olives. In addition, the island has entered the Guinness book of records as the island with the most olive trees in relation to the surface and the number of inhabitants.
Don’t forget to add the olive grove of Lun on the island of Pag to your itinerary, with 80,000 olive trees on 400 hectares, out of which 1500 trees are of the Oblica variety, which makes them especially interesting, since they have been grafted with the very rare evergreen variety Olea oleaster, similar to the wild variety Mediterranean.
Each olive tree is unique. They grow in bare rock and are shaped by the wind, which has created the most amazing forms and made the trees into true works of art. The oldest olive tree in Lun is around 1600 years old or even 2000 years according to the latest studies, and there are several hundreds of trees estimated to be around 1000 years old.
The Beauty of Dalmatia
Selo Olive Oil is Dalmatian, and though steeped in tradition, our Dalmatian Olive Oil is produced with the latest techniques and equipment in order to best preserve the aroma, taste, and integrity of the natural oils found in olives, to ensure they will all be transferred to the pressed oil. Olives are harvested in autumn, just as they're starting to turn purple – this is essential to preserve their high polyphenol content, which contributes greatly to the quality of the oil we produce. Then the olives are pressed within 24 hours using modern mechanized mills in November and December. Knowing the timeline of the harvest and production can help you plan your own visit.
There's a whole world of amazing gastronomic experiences in store for any visitor to Dalmatia. Delicious seafood freshly made with the morning's catch, eaten as the sunset trickles rays of light across the Adriatic. Delightful slices of truffle spread onto fresh pasta dishes on a hill overlooking the undulating olive trees. Smoke-flavoured prosciutto served on a Split or Hvar terrace enjoyed with smiling friends. All of these dishes can be made with the exceptional extra virgin olive oil produced in Dalmatia, which is also organic.
What makes Dalmatian olive oil so unique is its delectable peppery flavor: a sign that it is high in polyphenols – chemical compounds full of healthy antioxidants. If you're a first-time buyer, what you really need to know is simply that you've stumbled upon one of the finest olive oil-growing regions in the world. Every gourmet chef wants drops of liquid Mediterranean gold in their kitchen. And since we make limited quantities of olive oil, only the lucky ones will succeed in winning their bottle of oil.
Place your order of Selo Olive Oil today to have a bottle of the finest Croatian extra virgin olive oil sent straight to your door so that you can enjoy what you’ve been missing: ultra premium olive oil from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.