Olive groves shape Provence land. Let’s dive into the universe of olive oil. In les Alpilles, the mountain range of Luberon or on the slopes of the Mount Sainte-Victoire which won its spurs thanks to the famous paintings of Paul Cézanne, olive tree orchards are all over. Tour Designer enables you to visit olive mills and to enjoy olive oil tastings.
In les Apilles, the mill Calanquet near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is really worth a visit as well as the mill Castelas located in les Baux-de-Provence. 4 varieties are grown in this area: Aglandau, Grossane, Salonenque and Verdale. In the surroundings of the Sainte-Victoire, near Aix, a visit to Terre de Mistral is strongly advised. You will also be amazed by their fantastic vineyards.
Discover how olive oil is made and its healing properties reading this short article.
The ripening of olives
This is a complex process that lasts several months. After, the blooming from April to June, the fruit grows and its colour changes. It goes from green to yellow, next purple/red to dark purple next black. The color depends on the variety. This process is known as veraison and happens at the beginning of November. When the olive turns black it does not necessarily mean that it is ripe. It is once the pulp is soft. The fruit cannot be eaten when it is on the tree as it is bitter. To be consumed it will have to go through a special process that will reduce its bitterness. Many chemical transformations happen during the ripening.
The making of olive oil: from the fruit to the oil
The harvesting season depends on the varieties, on the area where it is produced and on climatic conditions. It takes place from October to December depending on the use of the fruit (green olives, black olives, tapenade or olive oil).
We can divide the making of olive oil into 10 stages. First of all, you harvest the fruit in the olive groves using combs and nets. Next, you get rid of the leaves and branches using a conveyor belt and the boxes of fruit are labelled with all the necessary information. The olives are then cleaned with water to remove the dust and crushed with their stone used as a natural preservative. This stage allows the bursting of its cells and the release of little drops of oil. The paste is mixed and kneaded. Next, you separate the liquid from the solid part of the paste. The solid part is recycled and used as compost for the crops. The oil goes through a vertical centrifuge and is analysed to know its acidity. The liquid is stored in stainless tanks. Last but not least, the oil is bottled and labelled. It is now ready to be sold for the joy of our refined palate! With Tour Designer, you can enjoy an olive oil tasting in the area of les Alpilles, Bandol or in the mountain range of Luberon.
The products made with olives at Castelas mill
Different olive oils are offered by the Moulin Castelas such as extra-virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil or extra-virgin 100% organic olive oil. Their names are « Classic », « Fruité Noir », « Bio », « Mas de l’Olivier », « L’Aglandau » and « Seigneurs des Baux ». The mill Castelas provides a wide range of naturally flavoured olive oils with citrus, ginger, basil & mint, thyme & rosemary, garlic or Espelette chili.
You can also taste delicatessen such as green olives, split green olives, black olives, very firm green olives, black olives and olive oil, black olive tapenade (which is made with black olives, capers and anchovies) or green olive tapenade (with green olives, capers and anchovies as well). Enjoy the taste of Provence in your plate! Olive oil is one of the main ingredients of Provencal cooking which is definitely an olive oil based cooking. Zucchini, eggplants, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. Everything you need for a good Ratatouille without forgetting the herbs of Provence and the king of our specialties, garlic!
Taking a private tour with Tour Designer in the mountain range of Luberon, in the area of les Alpilles, or in Bandol and in the surroundings of Aix-en-Provence, you will taste these different specialties touring the farms or wandering around the market.
The healing properties of olive oil
Because it is monosaturated fat, olive oil is better for your health having antioxydant effect and delaying the development of vascular diseases and arteriosclerosis. Olive oil also has a protective and fortifying effect on the epiderma thanks to its content in E vitamine and its antioxydant properties. Many cosmetics in Provence are made with olive oil: hand cream, body lotions, soaps, shower lotion, that you can purchase in lovely little shops all over the villages and cities of Provence or directly at the farms. Many lovely brands such as Le Panier des Sens in la Ciotat near Cassis, le Mas des Barres located in Maussane-les-Alpilles or Lothantique in upper Provence can be discovered.
To put it in a nutshell, olive oil would increase life expectancy so do not hesitate anymore you can use olive oil when cooking!