Croatia’s application to register the name “Soltansko maslinovo ulje” (Solta olive oil) has been approved and entered into the register of EU products with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This news was officially announced in the EU’s Official Journal on October 21, 2016.
Solta is an Adriatic island located in the central Dalmatian archipelago which has a climate of mild winters and hot, dry summers. The olive oil here is produced with two indigenous olive varieties: Levantinka (also known as Soltanka) and Oblica, making up more than 95 percent of olive groves on the island – with Levantinka making up a slightly higher percentage (50 to 60 percent).
Traditional methods are used to maintain the olive trees and harvest their olives. The fruit is picked by hand or by using small hand rakes to rake the olives onto the ground which is covered with nets. Solta olive oil is said to have a fruity aroma, with a touch of banana, and a slight bitterness and sharpness.
In order to meet PDO requirements, all stages of the production, from cultivation, harvesting, processing, bottling and packaging must take place on the island of Solta, and its seven islets which include Polebrnjak, Saskinja, Balkun, Kamik, Sarac, Grmej and Stipanska.
PDO is the highest of the three designations under the EU product certification system for agricultural products and foodstuffs. A product with a PDO designation is one which is produced, processed and prepared in a certain geographical area.
The other two designations include PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) for products or foodstuffs with at least one stage of production, processing or preparation taking place in a certain geographical area; and TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) for products with a “traditional character” when it comes to either its composition or production.
Along with the islands of Korcula, Krk and Cres, this brings the total number of Croatian olive oils to receive PDO status at the EU level to four. An application from the peninsula of Istria is still awaiting approval.