Small, black and precious: the Taggiasca olives|Patrizia Margherita|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2019.07.16
  • Small, black and precious: the Taggiasca olives
The Taggiasca olives (also called Cailletier in English) are now known throughout Italy and they are getting more and more popularity abroad too, so much so that they can now be found on – Italian – menus in some of the major cities worldwide. Excellent when eaten on their own or as an aperitif with a drink, they are often served at bars during Happy Hour (Italian aperitivo) and often added to recipes, pizzas and cold appetizers.


Pitted Taggiasca olives

Where the Taggiasca olives come from:
First of all, the Taggiasca olives are a particular type of olive, mainly cultivated in the western part of Liguria and, above all, in the province of Imperia. Right here is the municipality of Taggia. According to local tradition, the monks of the San Colombano monastery, located on the island of Lerino right in front of the coast, were the first to bring these olives to Taggia for the first time and they were the ones to initiate their cultivation on the mainland. This town, Taggia, is where the name of the Taggiasca olives comes from.
Over the years and centuries, the cultivation of Taggiasca olives spread outside of Taggia and later extended to most of the Italian peninsula. Despite this, the province of Imperia is still today the land that guarantees the greatest production of such olives and the authentic Taggiasca olives come from here.

Taggiasca olives cultivation:
Although this type of olive is definitely smaller than other types, its plant can reach up to 15 meters in height.
Despite their fame and their popularity, the Taggiasca olives have been greatly affected by recent climate changes and, just like similar other crops, are subject to the main natural adversities that, however, do not go to affect the high and constant production of olives. Among the main natural enemies of these fruits are the insects, the cold winter weather and the summer droughts: in all these cases, the resistance of the plant is rather low.
The fruit, characterized by a late ripening (usually around January), has an oval shape. In Liguria, in order to collect the olives, thick nets are laid under the plants months before the harvesting begins. This allows the producers to collect even those fruits that ripen prematurely, preventing them from being wasted by falling on the ground. In January, during the time of full ripeness, the producers and their workers go under the olive groves with long sticks, called trappe, with which the branches of the olive trees are shaken to make the fruits fall inside the nets. Although this is the classic traditional method, handed down from generation to generation, in the last few years a new collection method has become popular because it’s simpler, faster and definitely less tiring and it involves using mechanical rods.

Oil produced with Taggiasca olives:
The main characteristic of the Taggiasca olive is the high levels of oil present in it, so much so that it is called the juiciest of olives. Precisely for this reason, these olives are also widely used in the production of highly quality extra virgin olive oil.
The oil obtained from the Taggiasca olives is bright yellow, with the scent of ripe fruit and with a complex aroma, characterized by sweet, definite nuances, but also characterized by spicy hints, nuances of almond and pine nuts. The low acidity of the product confirms the refinement and the high organoleptic quality of this oil.
Taggiasca olives can be pricy and not just because they are a particular and juicy kind of olives but because when harvested they are fairly bitter and it takes months of natural processing – using salt and Mediterranean aromas – to prepare them for eating.
The Taggiasca olives are often sold marinated in jars or in a pâte similar to the French tapenade.


Pitted and marinated olives

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  • Patrizia Margherita
  • AgeMonkey( SARU )
  • GenderFemale
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Italian by birth and multicultural by choice, Patrizia Margherita speaks 5 languages and has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK. She’s Italian and American but she likes to consider herself a citizen of the world. When she’s not teaching or working on translations, Patrizia enjoys cooking Italian food, hiking and travelling around the world…she has visited 58 countries so far and counting!

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