Casa Junius is located between thousands of olive trees on the slopes of the mountains of the region called Axarquia. The best olives have been growing in this area for centuries, alongside almond trees and the Muscadet grape. It was a long cherished wish to produce our own olive oil. After all, the olives grow in our garden and Casa Junius is located in the middle of the olive groves. In addition, we think we can add something to make the quality of the olive oil more transparent. The olive oil in our bottle can be traced back to the olive grove on the slope, where the olives are grown. We do not mix olives from other olive groves, we do not spray them, the pressing and bottling takes place with only the olives from that particular olive grove. This means, only a certain amount of olive oil will be produced from that olive grove. We pay attention to the fact that harvesting and pressing is done within 24 hours.
Casa Junius and olive oil
Self-production or not?
The idea was born and after a few talks with surrounding olive farmers and an appointment with the modern press, it was confirmed that the idea of self-production is financially feasible, even for small quantities. A liter of the best 'extra virgin' unfiltered olive oil will be able to compete with the supermarket in NL including transport to the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, prices are more than 50% higher for comparable quality and you cannot trace back the oil to its origen.
However, the benefits of self-production do not stop here
We know exactly where the olives come from. Each bottle with the oil can therefore be traced back to the olive grove and the farmer. We also know the harvest day and production day of the bottle of olive oil. The weather conditions are also known. These data are related to the taste and quality of the pressing (water/oil ratio). An olive harvested early (November / December) tastes different from an olive harvested late (January / February). The olive oil is often clear in NL. The consumer likes that better, but the real flavorings have been filtered out. Not so with our olive oil.
The taste of the oil
In a normal year the harvest of the olives take place between November and February. In November the olives are still a bit green and very fresh. The fruit is hard, but is fully grown. In February, the olive is ripe and the fruit is more softer. The oil tast more softer.
Early harvest (November/December)
Olive oil made from olives harvested early, generally has a more intense and fruity flavour. It can have a peppery, grassy or spicy taste, with a slight bitterness. Often highly prized for its complex flavor profile, this olive oil is often used as a finishing oil over salads, steamed vegetables or fresh sandwiches.
Late harvest (January/February)
Olive oil made from late harvested olives generally has a softer and smoother taste. It can have a sweeter and fruitier taste, with less bitterness and spiciness. This olive oil is suitable for use in hot dishes, such as baking, roasting and sautéing.
The choice between early or late harvested olive oil depends on personal preference and the desired use. Some people prefer the intense flavor of olive oil harvested early, while others prefer the softer taste of olive oil harvested late. Both variants have their own unique characteristics and can be a delicious addition to different dishes.
The intention of Casa Junius to produce two different types of olive oil, one early harvest and one late harvest. The production date on the label will show the harvest date.
Growing and the production process
The production of high-quality olive oil starts with an agreement with the farmer, who owns the grove. He should be aware, that we want biological grown olive fruits. His reward comes after the growing process. He should get a good price per kilo for his olives. The harvesting is hand-picked and the premium olives from the tree are sorted by size and quality.
Now it is important for the quality of the final result that the olives are quickly brought to the factory for further processing. The olive must be processed into olive oil within 24 hours.
At the factory at Monttosa, all the little leaves and branches are removed from the olives. Then the olives are washed carefully. The olives are ready for production and crushed into a paste, which is then blended. This paste process takes more then a hour. The paste is pressed to extract the oil. This oil is then filtered to remove any solids. The filtering process is difficult because you don't want to filter out all flavourings.
The result is a pure, high-quality olive oil. This oil is then bottled and labeled, ready to be sold at our retail shop or shipped to Holland to our clients, who have pre-ordered.
The shelf life of 'extra virgin' Olive Oil (EVOO)
The shelf life of extra virgin olive oil can vary, but in general it has a longer shelf life compared to lesser quality types of olive oil. However, the quality of extra virgin olive oil can gradually decline over time. Here are some guidelines regarding the shelf life of extra virgin olive oil:
An unopened bottle of extra virgin olive oil can retain its quality for about 18 to 24 months from the harvest date. This guideline applies if the olive oil is stored correctly, namely in a cool, dark place, away from heat, light and air.
Once a bottle of extra virgin olive oil has been opened, its quality can slowly decrease. It is advisable to consume the oil within 6 to 12 months of opening. This is because exposure to air, light and heat can affect the oil and cause oxidation, which can affect its taste, smell and nutritional value.
The Spanish kitchen uses olive oil for nearly everything. Therefore in Spain you can buy olive oil bottles of 3 to 5 litres, but the Dutch kitchen is more careful with olive oil. For the Dutch market we provide 500ml bottles. Though we are sure, that once people start to know high quality olive oil and know it is more healthier than saturated fats such as butter, people will change to olive oil.
Olives have a long history
Olives have a long history, dating back thousands of years. They have been an important part of Mediterranean cuisine and culture since ancient times.
The wild olive tree (Olea europaea) is believed to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean region, possibly from the islands of Crete or Syria some 6,000 years ago. The oldest evidence of cultivated olive trees dates back to the 6th millennium BC in ancient Greece. Olives were cultivated and cultivated thousands of years ago in countries such as Egypt, Greece, Italy and Syria. The tree is very resistant to the warm climate with its thin narrow leaves, so it loses little water. The very deep roots bring up the food for the tree and the little water.
Olives had an important place in ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, olive leaves were found in the tombs of pharaohs, suggesting their symbolic significance in religious and spiritual practices. In ancient Greece, olives were considered a gift from the goddess Athena and were a symbol of peace, wisdom, abundance and fertility. To this day, olive branches are used as a sign of peace. On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, an olive branch is given to churchgoers in Sedella after Mass. Sedella is a small village about 10 km from Casa Junius.
The Romans spread the cultivation of olive trees throughout their empire and played a crucial role in the spread of olive oil. Also in this region the Axarquia around Casa Junius. Spain was a very important part of the Roman Empire. Olive oil was used for culinary purposes, as well as for lighting, religious rituals, skin care and medicinal applications. The Roman Emperor Domitian is known for his love of olive oil and is said to have bathed in olive oil daily.
During the Middle Ages, olive tree cultivation spread further from Italy across Europe, especially in countries such as Spain, Portugal and France. Olive oil became an important commodity and played a role in the trade of the Mediterranean countries.
After the discovery of America
With the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, olives and olive trees were introduced to the New World. Spanish settlers also later brought olive trees to areas such as California and South America, where they are still grown today.
Olives and olive oil are known and appreciated worldwide today. Today there are olive bushes, which are harvested by machine in areas of western Spain. These olives contain slightly more water than the fruits of the traditional trees. In the Axarquia, the traditional trees, sometimes up to 500 years old, still stand on the steep slopes. They are still picked by hand because there are no other methods. Mediterranean cuisine, which makes heavy use of olive oil and olives, is known for its health benefits and is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.
Is olive oil healthy?
Olive oil is widely regarded as a healthy source of dietary fat. It mainly contains monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. Here are some reasons why olive oil is considered healthy:
Healthy fats: Olive oil contains about 70-80% monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid. These fatty acids can help lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Olive oil contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. This may help reduce inflammation in the body and protect against chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.
Protection against oxidative stress: The antioxidants in olive oil can protect the body against oxidative stress, which can lead to cell damage. Olive oil can thus help slow down the aging process and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Nutrients: Olive oil also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins K and E, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for overall health.
Although olive oil is generally considered healthy, it is important to consume it in moderation. Olive oil is still a high-fat food and contains calories, so it's important to consider total calorie intake as part of a balanced diet.
Olive oil vs. butter
The choice between olive oil and butter depends on various factors, including personal preferences, dietary needs, and cooking methods. Here are some points to consider when comparing olive oil and butter:
Fat content: Olive oil is predominantly composed of monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy fats. On the other hand, butter is primarily made up of saturated fats, which are linked to increased levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and a higher risk of heart disease. Therefore, from a cardiovascular standpoint, olive oil is generally considered a healthier option.
Nutritional profile: Olive oil contains beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals that offer various health benefits. It also contains vitamin E and vitamin K. Butter, while a source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and some trace minerals, is higher in cholesterol and lacks the antioxidants found in olive oil.
Cooking applications: Olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to butter, making it more suitable for low to medium-heat cooking methods such as sautéing, stir-frying, and baking. Butter has a higher smoke point, which makes it better for high-heat cooking, such as frying or searing.
Flavor and texture: Olive oil has a distinct flavor that adds a characteristic taste to dishes. It works well in Mediterranean cuisine, salads, and for drizzling over cooked food. Butter has a rich and creamy taste, which is often preferred for baking or adding flavor to certain recipes.
Dietary considerations: For individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, olive oil is a suitable alternative to butter. It is also a vegan option, while butter is derived from animal milk.
Ultimately, it's important to strike a balance and consider moderation when incorporating both olive oil and butter into your diet. If you're looking for a healthier option with beneficial fats, olive oil is generally recommended. However, occasional use of butter in moderation can still be enjoyed.
Example: a healthy Catalana sandwich
A Catalana sandwich is a simple but delicious dish from Catalan cuisine. However, throughout Spain you can order it for lunch. Here is a basic recipe to make a Catalana sandwich:
- Fresh baguette or ciabatta
- Ripe beef tomatoes
- A few slices of raw ham
- Possibly a clove of garlic, but this is not necessary.
- An early picked 'Extra virgin' olive oil
Cut the fresh baguette in half into 2 pieces
Drizzle the bun with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil will soak into the bread.
Cut a ripe beefsteak tomato into large slices and remove the hard green top near the stem.
If you use garlic: Peel a garlic clove and cut it in half. Rub the cut side of the garlic over the bread rubbed with olive oil. This adds a subtle garlic flavor.
Place the tomato slices and raw ham on the bun and place the other side of the bun on top.
Serve the Catalana sandwiches for lunch or as part of a tapas meal. You can replace the raw ham with cheese and add anchovies, olives or other ingredients to taste between the bread. Do not use butter.
The early 'extra virgin' olive oil gives the hard bread a spicy yet soft taste. The oil makes the bread a bit soft. The flavors of the oil are mixed in the neutral bread. The tomato and raw ham complement. Enjoy the delicious and simple and above all healthy Catalana sandwich!