History and Origin of the Taggiasca olive – Round, with a color that changes from green to purplish black depending on the degree of ripeness, with a delicious sweet taste and a slightly bitter aftertaste: at first glance, these would seem to be the characteristics of the Taggiasca olive, a typical product of western Liguria. However, few know the origins of the Taggiasca olives, their history and the numerous properties of this small and delicious fruit from which numerous other Ligurian delicacies originate, such as for example the Taggiasco oil strong>, ideal for giving an extra boost to any dish.
On the Olio Calvi website you can find a vast range of products based on Taggiasca olives: Taggiasche olives in brine, pitted Taggiasca olives, Taggiasco oil, Riviera Ligure DOP certified Taggiasco oil. Let’s discover the origins of this product whose aromatic and delicious has become a symbol of Liguria.
Origins of the Taggiasca Olive
History and Origins of the Taggiasca Olive – Although the Taggiasca olive is a product known for being typically Italian, more specifically Ligurian, its origins are rooted in Provençal France. In fact, the Taggiasca olives were brought to Italy between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century by the monks of San Colombano, coming from the monastery of Lerins, in Provence. The monks erected a monastery in the Argentina valley, bringing the cultivation of the Taggiasca olive to the municipality of Imperia, in the city of Taggia, where the cultivation of the Taggiasca olive found the ideal conditions to thrive. It is precisely from the city of Taggia that the Taggiasca olives take their name.
In the following centuries, the cultivation of Taggiasca olives spread throughout Italy, but it is precisely in the province of Imperia that, even today, there is the greatest production of this product: as previously mentioned, the territory has an ideal balance between soil, climate, exposure to the sun and shelter from cold winds for the cultivation of Taggiasca olives.
Characteristics of the Taggiasca olive tree and its cultivation
What makes Taggiasca olives such a refined product, in addition to the unique flavor and the numerous benefits they bring to the body which we will however examine later, is their rarity: in fact, they are found only in the Ligurian Riviera of Ponente. It is obviously possible to plant this variety of olive tree in other areas as well, but the organoleptic characteristics of the fruit will no longer be the same. Although the fruits are rather small compared to other olive varieties, the Taggiasca plant can exceed ten meters in height if not pruned properly and has a vigorous appearance, with a very twisted and often inclined trunk. This particular bearing has led it to be used also for ornamental purposes. Its branches are characterized by a good
width and a pendulous habit, slightly inclined downwards. This type of olive tree is usually placed on terraces delimited by dry stone walls interspersed with dirt paths.
The cultivation of Taggiasca variety olive trees requires a sunny exposure, sheltered from cold winds. The preferred climate is typically Mediterranean, like that of the Ligurian Riviera. The ideal soil is clayey, calcareous and well drained; the olive trees require regular but not abundant watering.
Even if the conditions of the area in which the olive trees are grown are perfect, as in the western Ligurian area, the Taggiasca olive plants can be greatly affected by climate change and natural adversities . The main enemies of the Taggiasca olive are parasites such as cochineal, flies, which tend to damage the fruit, mange, peacock eye, a disease caused by a fungus that causes the leaves to fall , and drought.
The Taggiasche olives have a late ripening which in the Ligurian hinterland usually takes place around January. The harvest is carried out with the traditional method of beating down: the farmers bang a pole against the trunks of the olive trees, causing the ripe olives to fall, which will land on nets specially spread out on the ground; a more modern and less expensive solution in terms of time and effort is to resort to mechanical harvesters, however these are simply aluminum rods, held by the operator, which have vibrating rods at their peak used to detach the olives from the branches: in the Ligurian territory, in fact, large mechanical means that can be used where the land is flat or dominated by gentle slopes cannot be used. (in the past jute sacks were used), and are ready to be transported to the mill.
Characteristics and properties of the Taggiasca olive
The Taggiasca olive is medium-small in size and can be recognized thanks to its slightly elongated oval shape and colours, which range from dark green to purple to brown.
The surface of the fruit is smooth and the pulp is firm and tasty, it remains firm over time, making the Taggiasca olive fresh and tasty for a long time, especially if stored properly.
What makes the Taggiasca olives so precious, in addition to their rarity, is the flavour: despite this tends to vary according to the area and the cultivation methods, generally the Taggiasca olive has a delicate, aromatic and fruity taste with a slight almond and bitter aftertaste which distinguishes them from all other types of olives. This characteristic aroma makes them perfect to be enjoyed alone, as a tasty aperitif or to enrich many dishes. In addition to being delicious and versatile, Taggiasca olives are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (to a greater extent than most other olive varieties) which help lower bad cholesterol and raise the levels of the good one. In fact, Taggiasca olive oil is an excellent food to be integrated into a healthy and balanced diet.
Products with Taggiasca olive
Thanks to their unique and delicious flavour, Taggiasca olives can be enjoyed in numerous ways.
They are usually preserved with the traditional brine method: the Taggiasca olives in brine are immersed in a solution of water and salt, an ancient method and infallible which, combined with the tendency of the Taggiasca olive to keep its pulp soft for a long time, allows you to enjoy soft and fresh olives as if just picked. On the Olio Calvi website you can find a wide range of Taggiasca olives in brine, with the possibility of also buying pitted Taggiasca olives in extra virgin olive oil, very convenient to enrich some dishes or to make a tasty aperitif, and other Taggiasca olive-based products: a delicious olive paté to spread on bread and the delicious Taggiasca oil.
The Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil
Taggiasco oil is one of the most renowned: in 1997 the denomination of origin Riviera Ligure DOP was born, which in the sub-denomination “Riviera dei Fiori” provides for the exclusive production with Taggiasca olives.< br/>What makes Taggiasca olive oil so unique are its particular organoleptic characteristics (ie the qualities perceivable through our taste and our smell) among which the complex aroma, its delicate flavor and the typical fruity “almond”
that recalls the flavor of almonds and pine nuts. The flavor is also linked to the time of harvest and the altitude of cultivation: in fact, the Taggiasca is a variety of olive that can be brought to maturity even quite late, generating an always excellent oil. Normally the olives grown in the Ligurian hinterland, at higher altitudes (above 300 meters above sea level) are harvested in December or even in January and February and produce an oil that is delicate, but very structured and fragrant. The olives produced on the coast
(where the harvest begins in October) instead give a sweeter oil. In any case, if the harvest is anticipated and the olive is still green, the oil will present pleasant spicy notes.
Finally, the acidity is usually very low (if the olive is healthy and processed immediately after harvesting, the The acidity is around 0.2%)
These characteristics make Taggiasca olive oil ideal for combining with dishes with a delicate flavour: in fact, it is capable of enriching and even enhancing the flavor of the dish, without however covering it.
Typical plates with Taggiasca olive
Integrating the Taggiasca olive into one’s diet is a delight for the palate: it is in fact a very versatile food, ideal to combine with dishes with a delicate flavor capable of bringing out all the aromas of the olive.
Among the typical recipes of Liguria, a land where the cultivation of the Taggiasca olive has found ideal conditions, many include Taggiasca olives, and this not only in the finishing phase, but right during cooking.
The Taggiasca olive is in fact very aromatic and thanks to its delicate bitter aftertaste it is used to flavor many dishes: an example is the typical Ligurian rabbit, where the not too marked flavor of the meat goes very well with the sweet and slightly bitter taste of Taggiasca olives. The same goes for fish cooked in the Ligurian oven where the Taggiasca olive is a must, or veal “all’uccelletto” (slices of veal cut into strips, floured and sautéed in a pan with Taggiasca olives and a clove of garlic).
The modern uses of the Taggiasca olive are then many: from the banal focaccia with Taggiasca olives (in this case pitted) to the dehydrated and pulverized Taggiasca olives used in some preparations in starred Ligurian restaurants.
The Taggiasca olive can also give rise to tasty condiments such as olive paté (cream of Taggiasche and extra virgin olives) available on the Olio Calvi shop.
Where to buy Taggiasca olive products
If you want to savor the authentic and genuine taste of the Taggiasca olive and its derivative products such as pitted and pickled Taggiasca olives, Taggiasca olive patè and oil Taggiasco it is advisable to rely on specialized companies such as Olio Calvi, which has been offering excellent quality products since 1921 and has its own oil mill and its own farm.