4th 'Monna Oliva' Celebrates Best Italian Table Olives

Producers from Liguria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia reached exceptional levels of quality despite the poor season.

Jul. 11, 2017
By Ylenia Granitto

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The fourth edi­tion of the national com­pe­ti­tion for the best table olives Monna Oliva wound up with an event held on June 24 in Latina, in the heart of Agro Pontino (Lazio), where the best of about 90 par­tic­i­pants received recog­ni­tion for their skills in olive processing. 

Several pro­duc­ers from Liguria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia reached excep­tional lev­els of qual­ity despite the poor sea­son, accord­ing to the group of tasters which assessed the sam­ples under the super­vi­sion of panel leader Ivano Caprioli. 

Along the route of the des­ig­na­tions of ori­gin, the pre­vi­ous edi­tions of Monna Oliva were host in Castelvetrano (Sicily), Cerignola (Apulia), and Ascoli Piceno (Marche).

Some of the winners of 4th Monna Oliva

The lat­est venue of the itin­er­ant event was cho­sen to honor the recent recog­ni­tion of pro­tected denom­i­na­tion of ori­gin (PDO) obtained by the Oliva di Gaeta, whose denom­i­na­tion is now reserved exclu­sively for table olives of the vari­ety Itrana, also known as Gaetana, of the black type, which meet the require­ments laid down by the pro­duc­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Finally, Italian table olives included a new European star,” said the pres­i­dent of the Mediterranean Union of Oil Tasters (UMAO), Paola Fioravanti, who con­ceived the com­pe­ti­tion. Since December, the Oliva di Gaeta joined the PDOs Nocellara del Belice, Bella della Daunia and Ascolana del Piceno.” 

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Fioravanti explained that this olive comes from the cul­ti­var Itrana, which can be nat­u­rally sweet­ened both when the fruit is per­fectly mature in the ver­sion of the Oliva di Gaeta DOP, and when it is still green; in this case, the whole fruit can be nat­u­rally processed or cracked with salt and then seasoned. 

Those who care about the bio­di­ver­sity of Italian cul­ti­vars should pro­mote table olives and denom­i­na­tions of ori­gin as a valu­able sup­port to our pro­duc­ers,” Fioravanti con­sid­ered. The table olives sec­tor is still a mar­ket niche, but in recent years it devel­oped and gave rise to new oppor­tu­ni­ties, partly thanks to a change in people’s lifestyle and dietary habits,” she observed, point­ing out that, accord­ing to the International Olive Council, table con­sump­tion increased by 173 per­cent over the last 25 years. 

Other eco­nomic and tech­ni­cal data were pre­sented dur­ing the third National Forum on the Production of Table Olives, which pre­ceded the award cer­e­mony. Moderated by the jour­nal­ist Maria Antonietta Palumbo, speeches on the sec­tor were given by the mayor of Latina, Damiano Coletta, the chair­man of the con­sor­tium of indus­trial devel­op­ment Roma Latina, Carlo Scarchilli, the pres­i­dent of the Province of Latina, Eleonora Della Penna, the pres­i­dent of the asso­ci­a­tion of tasters of Latina Capol, Lino Centauri, the national coun­cilor of Città dell’Olio, Benedetto Miscioscia, and the Lazio Region agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, Carlo Hausmann. 

On behalf of pro­duc­ers, there were con­tri­bu­tions from an expert in rural poli­cies, Antonio Stea, an expert in table olives, Alberto Bono, and Franco Lombardo of Geolive Belice LLC. 

Monna Oliva aims to sup­port the table olive sec­tor by pro­mot­ing the work of Italian man­u­fac­tur­ers, whether they use tra­di­tional sys­tems or con­trolled and mech­a­nized meth­ods. Among these, the Calabrian farmer Francesco Gabriele received an hon­or­able men­tion for his nat­ural Bella di Cerignola. 

I am delighted with this recog­ni­tion which rewarded my research in this field,” Gabriele said, and he explained that Bella di Cerignola is gen­er­ally lye-cured and com­pletely sweet­ened, but he processed it with the nat­ural method in order to reg­u­late deb­it­ter­ing and crunchiness. 

In this way, the con­sumer can bet­ter per­ceive the ori­gin of olive because nat­ural pro­cess­ing enhances the typ­i­cal taste of the cul­ti­var,” he explained. In my opin­ion, with an organic man­age­ment, good water and good salt you can obtain a great prod­uct,” Gabriele con­cluded, spec­i­fy­ing that he used the salt of the nat­ural salt pans reserve of Trapani and Paceco, in Sicily, and car­ried out strict con­trols on water. 

The list of the win­ners can be found on the Monna Oliva web­site.



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