` Hojiblanca - Olive Oil Times

Hojiblanca

Oct. 26, 2012
Olivarama

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Of uncer­tain ori­gins, the Hojiblanca vari­etal is the third most impor­tant in the Spanish groves. Proof of this lies in the almost 18 mil­lion olive trees cur­rently grow­ing through­out the heart of Andalusia. These trees are capa­ble of adapt­ing to extreme soils and cli­mates, in which other vari­etals can­not always guar­an­tee their own survival.

Cornelius could not believe his ears when he finally dis­cov­ered the con­tents of that writ. Cesar had issued an order oblig­ing all land-own­ers in Baetica to increase their oil pro­duc­tion in order to sat­isfy the grow­ing needs of the metropolis.

It was not the first time this anony­mous sub­ject of Rome had heard tell of the much-feared impe­r­ial decrees. In fact, just a few years ear­lier his neigh­bours from Ipagrum (nowa­days known as Aguilar de la Frontera) had been obliged to pull up their Coccolobis vines, an autochtho­nous cul­ti­var from the region. Yet, none of the pre­vi­ous man­dates had affected him so directly.

His estate, located around 14 miles to the south of Igabrum (cur­rently Cabra), perched on hilly and some­what cal­care­ous lands. There, only a few olive trees grew, that only sprouted fruits a cou­ple of times per lus­trum. So how could he obey the orders received?

After giv­ing the mat­ter a great deal of thought, he remem­bered that olive branch that he had planted in a rocky area a while back. The can­vas trader who vis­ited him every year on his route from Saguntum (now Sagunto) had given it to him. This olive tree was dif­fer­ent to all the rest. It was not so spo­radic and its roots took hold in the wild ter­rains that oth­ers had failed to conquer.

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Cornelius decided to make a num­ber of clip­pings and plant them very, very care­fully around the orig­i­nal olive tree. With time, the new plan­ta­tion suc­ceeded in fill­ing the amphorae Rome demanded with oil. This olive grove awoke the admi­ra­tion of many farm­ers, although sub­se­quent wars ended up ostra­ciz­ing it.

With time how­ever, this for­got­ten crop was for­tu­nately redis­cov­ered by new colonies which, admired for their gen­er­ous pro­duc­tion and the enor­mous refine­ment of their oils, decided to spread it through­out the area and export it to neigh­bour­ing regions.


As ver­sa­tile as its many names

And so, the his­tory of the Hojiblanca began in this curi­ous and ran­dom way. A vari­etal which up until decades ago was known as Arola and Ojiblanco. Regardless of the name it receives, this olive tree type devel­ops in per­fect har­mony with its sur­round­ings, in this case mainly the south of Cordoba and to the north of Malaga, although it is also present in the provinces of Granada and Seville. Its habi­tat is, in short, the very heart of Andalusia, where the tough win­ters and the resis­tant cal­care­ous soils put it sur­vival to the test.

Also his­tor­i­cally known as Casta de Lucena or Casta de Cabra, this is the third most planted vari­etal in Spain, as is made clear by the approx­i­mately 18 mil­lion olive trees cur­rently in existence.

Its oils are con­sid­ered the fun­da­men­tal essence of three Designations of Origin. They are their rai­son d’être. This is the case of the Córdoba-based PDO Baena and the PDO Priego de Córdoba, where the Hojiblancos coex­ist along­side the admirable Picudos. For their part, in the province of Seville, the PDO Estepa has suc­ceeded in mas­ter­fully com­bin­ing it with the recently intro­duced Arbequina.

To wan­der through the cul­ti­va­tion areas is to walk through white vil­lages brim­ming with his­tory, beauty and tra­di­tions. Surrounded by moun­tains and slopes cov­ered in olive woods, among which there are some mag­nif­i­cent exam­ples capa­ble of car­ry­ing loads weigh­ing up to 800 kg of olives in the most gen­er­ous years.

Yet to be discovered

The Hojiblanca is a pres­ti­gious vari­etal. So much so, that today a major com­mer­cial brand of olive oil uses its name, and its fruit is being more and more fre­quently con­sumed as a table olive in Spain thanks, among other things, to its accept­able qual­ity and easy har­vest­ing. They are fruits that ripen very slowly and delay the har­vest, a fact that leads to cer­tain amount of vecería”, or alter­na­tion of high and low yield years, par­tic­u­larly among the old­est cul­ti­vars. Perhaps this is why the oils are so prized in both the sin­gle-vari­etal ver­sion and when com­bined with oth­ers to make a coupage.

Hojiblanca is a vari­etal that all con­sumers should be famil­iar with. Above all because it is most likely that the oils habit­u­ally used in the kitchen are made of this olive type and that these same fruits con­sti­tute the most recur­rent aperitifs.

Main char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Hojiblanca vari­etal extra virgins

CHEMICAL PARAMETERS
Value
Polyphenols 200 ppm(*) Low
Vitamin E 362 ppm(*) High
Stability 50 hours Medium-Low

(*) parts per million

SENSORIAL ATTRIBUTES

Value
Bitterness Medium
Spiciness Medium (Variable)
Sweetness Low

OTHER SENSORIAL NOTES

Value
Green grass Occasionally
Apple Present
Green leaf Pronounced
Mint Occasionally
Artichoke Present
Fresh grass Occasionally
Olivarama arti­cles also appear in Olivarama mag­a­zine and are not edited by Olive Oil Times.

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