Monday, 7 December 2015

Olive oil in the Maltese islands

From amber yellow to emerald green, olive oil comes in many shades and hues. Sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’, it has been a staple in our diets for time immemorial – around 400 generations, to be exact.

The History

Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, the olive tree has played a crucial role in our diets and nourishment for around 10,000 years. It is believed, in fact, that we've picked olives from trees since the early Neolithic period, and that we started extracting this fruit’s oil some 8,000 years ago. Everyone from the Grecians to the Israelites to the Romans and the Minoans cultivated and consumed olives, and all of these milked them for their delicious and wholesome juices.

This age old tradition that pre-dates written history has survived the test of time, and nowadays, olive oil is a favourite among all the people of the world, be they Mediterranean or not. So much so, that the global production of olive oil is of over 3,200,000 tonnes per year; and it is assumed that close to 100 per cent of that is consumed each year as well.

Fun Facts About Olive Oil
  • Olive oil’s renowned health properties and aromas are due to their plant-based antioxidants called ‘polyphenols’. These are believed to be both anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging.
  • We all know that some red wines get better with age, but olive oil is a product best consumed as fresh as possible. For this reason, you should always check its harvest date.
  • It should be stored in cool, dark places with the lid firmly in place as light, heat and oxygen can destroy its chemical compound. In fact, the fridge is one of the best places to preserve its taste, colour and nutritive elements. It may solidify, but, once taken out, it will go back to being a liquid within a few minutes.
  • The notion that extra virgin olive oil (evoo) should never be heated or used for cooking is not supported by research. However one should not use EVOO for frying. During our EVOO experiences we examine this fact in more detail and discuss from where this myth originated.
  • While unfiltered olive oil may look less appetising – muddy, even – it is actually much tastier and much more nutritious than its filtered counterpart.
  • No two harvests are the same, so no two batches of olive oil can ever taste the same.
  • A certain degree of bitterness is required to ensure that the olive oil is genuine.
  • In tasting sessions, different people may taste the same olive oil differently; that is why the aroma is given more importance.
  • Proper, unfiltered olive oil contains natural fats, meaning it has a high-calorific value – but, don’t worry, they’re good fats!

Extra virgin olive oil can be easily coupled to other local ingredients

Merill & Olive Oil
Olive oil was one of the first products we discovered at Merill. This was no coincidence, however, as two of the first people we teamed up with were Charlie and Ray Vella, the hard-working farmers and owners of tan-Nixxiegha Olive Grove.

Over the years, we have made it our mission to support the farmers in our rural network, particularly those whose work is eco-friendly, thanks to the EU LEADER funded Project. This training consists of pest control and management, olive oil appreciation, and health and safety regulations when working around trees, among many others.

As part of our on-going work, we also support researchers who are rediscovering old Maltese varieties and studying their unique properties; and we help create awareness about the benefits of choosing local and unaltered food products. 

What We Offer

Should you wish to organise an Olive Oil Tasting session to find out what real, unfiltered olive oil tastes like, feel free to get in touch with us.

We have:

  • Professional Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Tasting – As one of newest ventures, this offers small groups the chance to sit down to a glorious olive oil tasting session that will challenge everything you think you know about the taste and smell of good olive oil.
  • Bottled Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - Bottled liquid goodness that’s of a guaranteed quality and origin.

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For more information on Merill or our Olive Oil Tasting sessions, why not drop us a line at or call us on +356 9944 3118? 

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