Designation of Origin
Oli de Mallorca

Oli de Mallorca is an extra virgin olive oil made with the fruit of the olive tree (Olea Europea) using the Mallorquina, Empeltre, Arbequina and Picual varieties, based on physical processes which ensure that the oil conserves the aroma, taste and properties of the fruit from which it is made. The soil characteristics, rugged landscape, irregular rainfall and great age of Mallorca's olive trees lead to a limited yield of olives that are suitable for good quality oil. At the same time, Mallorca's climate influences when it is best to harvest the olives, with an earlier harvest compared to other olive-growing regions. Thanks to all these factors and to the species of olive trees that can be found in Mallorca, the oils produced have different organoleptic properties. There is a sweet type that is made with olives that are beginning to ripen, whose main feature is its sweetness or mildness with almost no bitter or spicy flavour. Alternatively, there is a fruity kind that is made from green olives, whose sensorial properties are strongly characterized by a bitter, spicy quality. Mallorca has a long history of olive growing, together with the production and consumption of olive oil. Traditionally Mallorcan olive oil has always been well-acknowledged and popular among the local residents and people from other areas with which Mallorca has had trading links over the years, particularly the south of France. According to historical data, the Phoenicians and Greeks introduced olive trees to the Iberian Peninsula and from there they reached Mallorca. Historical references indicate that, when the Crown of Aragon existed (in the 13th century), oil was exported from Mallorca to Northern Africa together with other agricultural products. In the mid 15th century Mallorcan oil was a regular, continuous export, particularly from the Port of Soller. It was in the 16th century that important progress was made in olive growing and oil production, and for many years this was the main source of income for numerous estates on the island, many of which had their own olive mills. Olive growing spread particularly in the northern and southern parts of the Tramuntana mountains (in the north of Mallorca). In the early 16th century, oil tithes (part of the crop) were paid to the king representing 10% of the total yield, a figure that was only surpassed by the tithe on wheat or barley. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Mallorcan oil played a key role in the island's economy, both as a basic ingredient in the islanders' diet and as a product for trading exchanges and exportation. Mallorcan oil was given in payment for imported products, like wheat, in which it was not self-sufficient. Mallorcan olive oil continued to be the island's leading export product until the first half of the 19th century, for many years accounting for between 65 and 80% of Mallorca's total exports in monetary terms. In the second half of the 19th century Mallorca continued to export large quantities of Mallorcan oil. In one of the documents that best reflects customs and life on the island of Mallorca, "Die Baleren in wort und bild geschildert" (1869-1891), written by Archduke Louis Salvator of Austria during his stay on the island in the 19th century, the quality of Mallorcan virgin olive oil is praised for use on salads and for making "pa amb olis" (bread rubbed with tomato and sprinkled with oil), which, according to the Archduke, was one of the island's most popular dishes. The recognition that the quality of Mallorca's oil had achieved outside the island became evident in the late 19th century, when in Catalonia the second prize at a gastronomic award for quality oils went to a Mallorcan oil produced by one of the island's olive mills.

THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND CLIMATIC SETTING

The area where olives are grown and Oli de Mallorca is produced encompasses all the island's different municipalities.

The soil conditions

Mallorca's agricultural land is mainly composed of brownish or light reddish limy soil with a texture that has a mid to high consistency and a high proportion of coarse elements. It is low in organic material with a pH that tends to be alkaline and a high limestone content. Mallorca's soil has a structure formed by horizontal strata. Among these, a large amount of fine, very rich clays build up that can easily be explored by the roots of olive trees and these contribute to the production of olives with unique, highly characteristic aromas.

The climatic conditions

Basically Mallorca has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by warm temperatures, mild winters and hot, dry summers. It has an average yearly temperature of 17ºC, with a minimum average of 16.9ºC and a maximum average of 21.3ºC. Its average monthly temperatures range from 12ºC to 26ºC. Most of its rain (40%) falls in autumn, with a minimum rainfall level in summer and a yearly average of 570 mm. We should highlight the island's high level of humidity. To grow olive trees and, above all, ensure their survival, humidity is a very positive factor that affects the quality of the trees' yield. Even though Mallorca has a low rainfall, its high humidity allows the olives to adapt better to periods of drought, reducing any hydrous stress suffered by the leaves and guaranteeing the trees' survival. As for the formation of olives, the humidity influences the characteristic uneven yearly yield that olive trees tend to have, as it stabilizes the production of olives and also their chemical composition. Therefore humidity is a factor that helps to achieve olives with a regular, unchanging composition, contributing by extension to the quality of the oil.

The physical geography

An important feature of the island's physical geography is the Tramuntana mountain range in the north of the island, since it acts as a huge protective barrier against north winds that are so harmful for agriculture in general. In the centre of Mallorca is a plain known as the Pla de Mallorca, with some hills in the middle that do not rise above 300 metres. The island's low, uneven rainfall and the limestone composition of most of Mallorca's soil lead to a lack of surface rivers or streams with a continuous flow of water. For this reason, its hydrographical network is formed by torrents whose waters are highly dependent on the intensity of the island's rainfall. Consequently for most of the year these torrents remain dry.

Altitudes, slopes and the way olive groves face

Mallorca's olive groves can be found on land situated at very different altitudes, from almost sea level to an altitude of 800 metres in mountainous areas. Hillside terraces make it possible to grow olive trees on these mountainous slopes, whilst also preventing soil erosion. In Mallorca, hillside terraces covered in olives are one of the island's most typical, emblematic landscapes, and they are part of society's collective memory, regarded as always having formed part of the region. Generally speaking, the Tramuntana mountain range has impassable steep, jagged cliffs and mountains that rise up over the sea and gentler slopes on the southern side. The mountain range's hillside terraces face south, taking advantage of the slopes and maximum sunshine, whilst also avoiding cold north winds, thus ensuring that the olive trees are grown in a suitable way.

The cultivation of olive trees on hillside terraces

The olive groves on the Tramuntana mountain range follow no regular pattern. They are grown on hillside terraces, typical of this part of Mallorca, that have been built on the mountains' slopes. In general there is no fixed density to plantations, which vary from 80 to 160 trees per hectare. Difficult access to these mountain olive groves influences the farming techniques that can be used there. They have a lower yield than olive trees grown on flatter land, as it is more complicated to treat pest disease, fertilize the trees, harvest the crop etc in such areas. Due to the difficult access and virtual impossibility of using mechanized methods in these areas, the olives are traditionally harvested when they are riper than those picked in flatter areas. As a result, this leads to a type of Oli de Mallorca - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy oil that is described as a sweet variety in the corresponding designation of origin, with a mild, sweet taste and no bitter or spicy quality.

The age of the olive groves

According to bibliographical references, the first indications of the existence of olive trees can be traced back to the 15th century, although olive growing really became more widespread in the 16th century. As a result the traditional groves on the Tramuntana mountain range are approximately 500 years old, given the fact that the trees have survived over the centuries and no great pest disease or fires are known to have occurred that might have made their general replacement necessary. In consequence, it can be said that 90% of Mallorca's olive trees have an average age of 500 years. So deep-rooted is the idea of Mallorca's olive groves, as an integral part of the landscape, that, according to popular local belief, the olives are a thousand years old. Mallorca's remaining olive groves are much more recent, with trees between 5 and 10 years old. Ancient olive trees, like most of Mallorca's, have considerable nutritional reserves in their woody parts and these are mobilized when the fruit is formed. That is why the aromatic properties of olives from old trees are greater than those of younger trees. The olives' lipid-based aromatic properties are retained by the oil that is made from the fruit. Consequently the olive trees' age contributes towards the characteristics that distinguish Mallorcan oil, differentiating it from the produce of other oil-making regions. It also helps to give the olives a more regular composition, since the formation of the fruit is not so highly dependent on the season's climatic conditions.

Sheep farming

Combining olive growing and sheep farming is a very common practice in Mallorca. Traditionally rural farms have complemented their activities with sheep farming, as these animals adapt well to the climate and conditions of the agricultural land as well as assisting the cultivation of olives. The sheep get rid of the weeds whilst also supplying organic manure that gives the trees a nutritional balance. The integration of olive growing and sheep farming is beneficial for the environment too, helping to preserve Mallorca's ecosystem, because it minimizes the need for plant protectants and fertilizers and also avoids environmental pollution, particularly the contamination of underground aquifers. From a financial and social viewpoint, combining arable crops and livestock farming on the same land means greater stability and a high earning capacity for the farm, thus contributing towards the maintenance of this type of business activity over the years.

VARIETIES OF OLIVES

The three authorized varieties of olives used for making Oli de Mallorca have organoleptic, physical and chemical properties that complement one another, leading to the production of different types of high quality oil. The Mallorcan olive gives the oil a mild, sweet quality and ripe almond flavour. The Arbequina variety lends the oil a flavour reminiscent of unripe fruit. Meanwhile Picual olives give it a spicy, bitter taste. As regards the oil's fat content, this is directly associated with the type of olive used. Oils made with the Mallorcan olive or Picual variety have an oleic acid content that is higher than oils made with the Arbequina olive. The Mallorcan variety has a high unsaturated fatty-acid content which exceeds that of oils made with any of the other varieties.

THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS

The way in which Oli de Mallorca is made differs, depending on whether the traditional system or continuous-flow system is used:

The traditional system

The olives are placed on a grindstone and crushed by machine-operated conical-shaped rollers. The grinding time depends on the amount of olives in each batch. Under no circumstances, however, should they be ground for over 6 minutes. The resulting paste is placed between woven mats that are laid one on top of the other and pressed. In the olive press, by applying considerable pressure, a liquid is produced composed of water and oil. The liquid is left to settle and separates into two layers, with the oil on top and the water from the olive below.

The continuous-flow system

This system involves the following main procedures: a) Cleaning and washing b) Weighing and classification c) Grinding. The grinder used is a mechanical hammer-type machine d) Mixing (malaxing) The maximum temperature that the paste reaches when mixed is 28ºC. The duration of the mixing process differs, depending on the main type of olive used. Picual olives need to be mixed for longer, between 60 and 90 minutes; Arbequina and Mallorcan olives are mixed for about 60 minutes. Very ripe olives need less mixing than more unripe ones. Only talc may be used as a technological coadjuvant. The amount used is restricted to between 0.5 and 2.0%. The double centrifugation of the paste, as extra reinforcement, is not permitted. e) Extraction: consisting of the horizontal centrifugation of the paste obtained during the previous phase. f) The separation of the liquid phases. Consisting of horizontal centrifugation followed by vertical centrifugation, leading to the final oil.

Storage

The oil is classified and placed in tanks depending on its quality. The tanks are made of inert, waterproof material that is easy to clean (stainless steel, polyester fibre glass, enamelled tanks etc). Thanks to the oil mills' geographical location and building characteristics, the oil can be stored at appropriate temperatures, not rising above 25ºC.

Bottling

Mallorcan oil is bottled in conditions that protect the oil from the sunlight, thus preventing any possible alteration due to the oxidation of the oil's fatty acids.

THE PROPERTIES OF THE OIL

The Oli de Mallorca designation of origin distinguishes between two types of oil, based on the moment when the olives are harvested: a factor that determines the different physical, chemical and organoleptic properties of both types of oil. The first type of oil, described as fruity, is made with healthy green olives. From a sensorial perspective, it has a fragrance that reflects this fruitiness, with a bitter, spicy quality and yellowish-green colour. The second type of oil, described as sweet, is mainly made of ripe olives. Its main characteristic is its sweetness or mildness, with virtually no bitter or spicy quality. The colour of this oil ranges from straw yellow to gold. The chemical properties of oils with this designation of origin are as follows: * Acidity: no higher than 0.8 º. * Peroxide level: no higher than 18 meq O2/kg * K270: no higher than 0.20. * Moisture: no higher than 0.1% * Impurities: no higher than 0.1%. Oils that remain in the oil mill until October may have a peroxide level of up to 20 meq O2/kg. The organoleptic differences between Mallorca's two types of oil are clearly reflected by their corresponding sensorial profiles. Thus, if a sensorial analysis of the fruity oil is made, the parameters that predominate are an almond flavour and smell and the presence of sweet, fruity olives. It has a moderate bitter, spicy taste and flavour, with no astringency. With the sweet oil, its main attribute is obviously its sweetness. It has a minimum degree of spiciness or bitterness, whilst any fruity parameters (almonds, an olive fruitiness, a fruitiness typical of other fruit, ripe green apples) can barely be noticed.

THE CONTROL SYSTEM

The bottles in which olive oil with a designation of origin is sold have a seal of guarantee or back label issued and numerated by the Regulatory Council. This seal or label must be placed on the bottles in the bottling factory in accordance with regulations established by the Regulatory Council, always in such a way that no re-use is possible. The manufacturers' labels used on oils with a designation of origin must clearly show the registration number of the designation of origin, together with any other details established in the corresponding legislation in force at the time.

Oli de Mallorca - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy
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