`Cerignola, Apulia Set to Host 2nd National Competition for Table Olives - Olive Oil Times

Cerignola, Apulia Set to Host 2nd National Competition for Table Olives

Jun 15, 2015 8:42 AM EDT
Ylenia Granitto

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The olive is not only the fruit that gives us EVOO. It is cen­tral to many recipes in Mediterranean food cul­ture, the main ingre­di­ent of appe­tiz­ers, condi­ments and sauces and the queen of the aper­i­tif: a bowl of green olives is one of the essen­tial ingre­di­ents of an Italian happy hour — of course accom­pa­nied by a good glass of wine or a well-stirred Spritz.

Both for the shape — spher­i­cal or oval, tiny or large, and its bril­liant col­ors rang­ing from yel­low and black to the pecu­liar hue that gave rise to the term olive green” — the olive adds to the table a sense of cheer­ful joy. The olive reaches refined and friv­o­lous ele­gance when, skew­ered with a tooth­pick, it is dropped in a Martini glass.

In recent years there has been a trend of strong growth in both the pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of table olives. World con­sump­tion has more than dou­bled, with an increase of 169 per­cent from 1990/91 to 2014/15. In the first four months of the 2014/15 crop year (i.e. from October 2014 to January 2015), table olive imports were higher in the United States (3 per­cent) than in the same period a year ear­lier, accord­ing to the International Olive Council. Spain, the world’s top pro­ducer, is also home to the lead­ing con­sumers (4.0 kg annual per capita), fol­lowed by Malta (3.8 kg), Cyprus (3.0 kg) and Italy (2.4 kg).

Last year saw the birth of first National Italian com­pe­ti­tion for the best table olives, Monna Oliva, whose name is a clear ref­er­ence to the famous Mona Lisa, pro­tag­o­nist of the paint­ing by Leonardo Da Vinci and ambas­sador of Italian genius and excel­lence in the world.

The unique event is a brain­child of Paola Fioravanti, a cham­pion for cul­ture of extra vir­gin olive oil in Italy and pres­i­dent of UMAO (Mediterranean Union of Oil Tasters), a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished in 1995 to pre­serve and fos­ter the cul­ture of olive oil and other typ­i­cal food prod­ucts, that orga­nizes the event in col­lab­o­ra­tion with National Association of Olive Oil Women (Donne dell’Olio).


The olive is a pre­cious fruit but still not suf­fi­ciently val­ued,” said Ivano Caprioli, a sen­sory ana­lyst and the panel leader for the com­pe­ti­tion. It is a great prod­uct, both for its taste and for the excel­lent nutri­tional prop­er­ties. It can be pro­duced by diver­si­fy­ing the farm­ing and pro­cess­ing tech­niques in order to obtain a prod­uct at rea­son­able cost.”

We find usu­ally only two or three types of olives dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket,” Caprioli con­tin­ued, but there are many other cul­ti­vars that can be used for the table olives.” The pur­pose of the com­pe­ti­tion is to value the best table olives from dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­r­ial pro­duc­tions and sup­port the pro­duc­ers, help­ing them improve prod­uct qual­ity and revi­tal­ize the sec­tor. In this way, small EVOO man­u­fac­tur­ers can diver­sify pro­duc­tion with­out nec­es­sar­ily adding a com­pletely dif­fer­ent prod­uct to their port­fo­lio.

Duomo Cathedral of Cerignola (Apulia) Italy

Olives have excel­lent prop­er­ties com­pa­ra­ble to those of extra vir­gin olive oil and they can pro­vide sim­i­lar nutri­ents. Olives can also have a longer shelf-life than EVOO. The man­u­fac­tur­ing of table olives can be rel­a­tively easy. For exam­ple mak­ing them al nat­u­rale”, explained Caprioli, you just put the olives in a solu­tion of salt and water and the microor­gan­isms located in the exter­nal part of the olive will kick­start of the fer­men­ta­tion. You have to mas­ter the abil­ity to keep the fer­men­ta­tion para­me­ters under con­trol which is fun­da­men­tal to reduc­ing the bit­ter­ness and enhance the fla­vor and obtain a high-qual­ity prod­uct.”

About 70 farms will attend the sec­ond edi­tion of Monna Oliva. The con­test, divided by type of man­u­fac­tur­ing (Natural, Castelvetrano Style, Sevilla Style and California Style) is reserved for nat­ural, brined and wrin­kled olives.
See Also: Monna Oliva Event Information
Monna Oliva will also host the first Italian forum on table olives, a meet­ing of Italian pro­duc­ers, and a tech­ni­cal work­shop to talk about pro­duc­tion, tra­di­tions, and pro­mo­tional ini­tia­tives.

The event is itin­er­ant, held in places renowned for table olive pro­duc­tion. After the first edi­tion in Castelvetrano, Sicily, famous for the Nocellara del Belice,” this year’s event will be in Cerignola, Apulia, the birth­place of Bella di Cerignola,” June 25 to 27.

We eval­u­ated already many high-qual­ity prod­ucts and we do believe that this com­pe­ti­tion will reach an even higher level,” Caprioli con­cluded. For future edi­tions, we would like to invite pro­duc­ers from abroad. We would love to bring the com­pe­ti­tion to an inter­na­tional level.”

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