One the the things people love most about Croatia are homemade locally produced organic food. And the prime target is most often extra virgin olive oil. It is grown along all the coastline of Croatia from Istria to Dubrovnik and it’s relatively cheap for a quality it has. And even though it’s quite common to buy it on the street and chance you will get swindled ( e.g. mixed oil) are quite low, you still need to be careful what and where to buy.
So what does the extra virgin in olive oil stands for? Extra means it is made out of the best olives picked at best time, a quality that is hard to test, and if you are not extra expert in olive oils just don’t pay attention to it. Virgin stands for a type of production. Virgin olive oil is made out by cold pressing of fresh olives. In Croatia that is the only legal method of olive oil production, so all oils are virgin one.
Olives are picked in phases from end of October to December. You can roughly guess when the olives were picked by the bitterness of oil, the bitter the oil in earlier phase it was picked.
Yield is affected by weather and disease. If you can you should find out how good was yield that year and buy accordingly. If yield was bad don’t buy oil if it is cheaper than average, on the other hand you can buy cheap quality oil on a good year ( of course price should be somewhere near average).
And one last note, oil can be filtered and unfiltered. So if you see residue in oil that is OK, but that does affect how long the oil is good. Unfiltered oil has less keep time.
How to buy
Olive oil is mostly affected by light, air and temperature. So when you see a nice old lady that sells oil in a street and keeps transparent bottles of it on the sun, you should probably avoid it, at least that bottle. Best oils can be bought from producers that will fill the bottle when you come to them and not before that. Now, chances are that that nice lady has prime oil somewhere in the back, away from sun and heat. So when buying ask her does she have another bottle and keep an eye from where she gets it. But the best solution is to ask locals to point you to a local producer. That way you can be sure that you bought quality homemade oil.
If you have time try buying small bottle from one seller. Olive oil should thicken on low temperatures so you can test seller’s honesty before buying more oil. This way you can also try it out. And whenever you buy ask seller to give you a sample, honest sellers don’t have nothing to hide.
Kaštel Štifilić 1500 years old olive tree
Oldest olive tree in Croatia is one located in Kaštel Štafilić near Split, it’s over 1600 years old. Another old and famous one is located on islands of Brijuni, with over 1500 years old and still produces olives for oil. One of more interesting locations is Luna forest on island Pag. This olive forest spreads over 400 hectares and contains over 80 000 olive trees. They say that there are trees 2000 years old there and even possible 2500 years old examples.
You can find exact location of this places on our map.