The olive branch is widely & generally known as a symbol of peace, while olive oil (due to its composition) is a symbol of longevity and good health
, as well as an inevitable ingredient of every Mediterranean meal.
Besides the above mentioned, the meaning of Olive oil in Croatia is more than just a culinary significance, but is rather woven into the countries´ history, culture, tradition & way of life. Croatian olive oil is amongst the best ones in the world
, for which there are many different indicators. Over the last decades, olive oil has also become an agricultural hit of Croatian tourism, and an increased cooperation of olive growers and local caterers is noticed.
History of olive growing in Croatia
In Istria, olive trees are known for about 2,500 years. Olive oil
became the most important and most valuable export product of Istria
. Testimonies for growing and processing of olive oil in Istria exist in Pula, on the island of Brijuni, Cervar near Porec, Larun near Tara and other locations in the area of western Istria, as archaeological excavations have been found in these areas since the time of the ancient Romans pointing to it.
Istria is proud of some of the best olive oil in the world: about 40 extra virgin olive oil producers are listed on the guide by Flos Olei, the Bible for Best World Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Flos Olei also proclaimed Istria as the world's best olive grower in 2017
The Croatian coast (Primorje
) and Kvarner
are also known for its olive groves
, especially the island of Cres, where olive cultivation is used in combination with sheep breeding.
Olive groves, along with viticulture, are the most important branch of agriculture in Dalmatia
. From a historical view it is evident that olive and olive oil are inextricably linked with Dalmatia. Throughout the past, olive oil meant the survival of people in this area. Economic because wine was a significant source of income, and physical, as it was almost the only fat in their diet.
In the cellars of Diocletian's Palace, an oil production plant dates back to the 11th century. Production of about 40% happens in Central Dalmatia only, although there are many olive growers also in South Dalmatia (island of Korcula) and some in the Dalmatian Hinterland. The largest quantity is produced on the island of Brac (0.5 million trees), which is one of the cradles of olive growing in the region.
To give you an insight in the quality of olive oil,
one can distinguish between: extra virgin oil
is the healthiest and is obtained after the first healthy fat and the acidity; virgin oil is obtained after the first shredding of weaker olive fruit, and its acidity with respect to extra virgin olive oil is slightly higher; olive oil is obtained by mixing refined oil and certain amounts of extra virgin olive oil that serves to improve color and taste; sansa oil is obtained by chemical separation from solid residues of olive oil after pulverization. The oil thus produced is of inferior quality but can be used for frying.
The diverse usage of Olive oil
Olive oil is being used in many different aspects: as an integral part of the Istrian and Dalmatian cuisine
, in the service of beauty
– it is superb not just for direct application on the skin, but also as one of the ingredients of face cremes, body peelings, as well as in treatment for hair and skin
; as medicine and for prevention
– easily digestible, medical facilities around the world recommend integrating olive oil into their daily diet – the reason why a Mediterranean diet is called the healthiest diet is actually due to containing olive oil as its basic ingredient.
Activities and places to visit connected to olive oil:
The Olive Oil routes
in Istria - for gourmands and those who want to become one - such an authentic experience is just indispensable, and information and maps of olive routes are readily available. If you go to some point on the olive oil route - you may find the olive growers in the olive grove or in the cooler taverns where the extra virgin olive oil is kept with utmost care. They will offer them with a piece of bread, as usual in the gourmet world, or any other homemade delicacy, introducing you into the secret of combining some oils with local specialties.
Olive oil exhibits
Quality istrian olive oils are confirmed in several annual olive oil exhibitions, which have been regularly held since 1995. One of the most known ones, the Days of Olive oil in Vodnjan
, Istria - organized traditionally every 3rd weekend in November, lasting 3 days, with more than 100 exhibitors, mostly of which are olive oil producers but also producers of other local agricultural and food products There is also a gastro -show which gathers the best chefs from Istria and Kvarner. More than 8,000 meals are prepared from the finest foods and indigenous products, and each delicacy is linked to the story of young olive oils in this area.
While staying in one of our villas with pool in Pula, why not visit the Museum Olei Histriae
- the House of Istrian Olive Oil opened in Pula.
Also well worth a visit is the Olive oil museum on the island of Brac
, in Dalmatia, established in 1864.
During your holiday in Croatia, you will be exposed to some of the best olive oils in the region, and some of it in the world, triggering your senses and appetites. In many areas, you will be able to buy it directly from the producers, ensuring its quality and originality.
So, whether you will be staying in one of our beautiful villas with pool in Istria
, Kvarner islands
or in our villas in Dalmatia
, olive oil is definitely one of the links, connecting all regions and flavours of Croatia, and will surely add to your gourmet experience of an unforgettable holiday.