Is the best olive oil from Croatia?
Think of the Mediterranean and one of the first things you’ll probably think of is olive oil. This beautiful golden liquid is synonymous with this wonderful part of the world, but how much do you know about Croatian olive oil? Let’s take a look at what makes Croatia such a hot spot for olive oil production…
Does Croatia have its own olive oil?
Yes, Croatia produces its own olive oil, and it has the perfect climate for olives to thrive in. The oil produced in Istria is considered by many to be the finest of all. 10% of the country’s olive oil comes from here, with a number of independent producers making as much as 450 tonnes of ‘liquid gold’ a year.
Croatia’s olive oil, and in particular extra virgin olive oil from Istria, has been prized for millennia, and it’s so strongly associated with the region that olives have been Istria’s symbol since the 1st century AD. And it’s not just admired within Croatia; it’s been named the world’s best olive oil region. In the annual New York International Olive Oil Competition, some of the best olive oils from Croatia picked up twelve gold medals and seven silver medals between them, including oils from Istria.
What makes Istrian olive oil in particular so good? Well, its slightly cooler climate helps produce tastier olives rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids. This also helps in the cultivation of several varieties of olive indigenous to Croatia, including buža, oblica, istarska bjelica, rosinjola and crnica. You’d be amazed at how long Croatia’s olive trees live, too; it’s not uncommon for them to live to be a thousand years old, and there’s one on the island of Pag that stakes claim to being the world’s oldest, purported to be 1,600 years old.
Taste Croatian olive oil on your holiday in Istria
Travel to Istria and you can explore olive oil production in Istria by visiting some family-run producers, many of which have tasting rooms where you can sample local oils and other delicacies. Award-winning Ipsa is one such place, and Vergal in Novigrad is another, the latter fighting off competition from 800 other producers to win ‘Best in Class’ at last year’s New York competition. There are plenty of others, so don’t leave Istria without visiting some of them. The perfect foodie travel experience awaits!