In Portugal, the production of olive oil and table olive is mostly concentrated in 22 different varieties, the main national variety is ‘Galega vulgar’, also called ‘Galega’ (accounting for about 60% of all olive trees in the country), other main varieties are “Cobrançosa”, “Arbequina”, “Picual”, “Arbosana” and “Koroneiki”.

The largest olive tree domains are found in the Alentejo region, which accounts for about 70% of the total national production, followed by Tras-os-Montes, Centro, Ribatejo and Algarve. Close to 97.5% of the total surface area is used to grow olives for olive oil, while the rest is used for table olives. Six per cent of the olive growing area is used for organic olive farming.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of virgin oil contains no more than 0.8% free acidity, and have a superior taste. Virgin olive oil it is a lesser grade of virgin oil, with free acidity of up to 2.0%, and have a good taste.

Good for your health, good for the planet

Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which lowers total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (or “bad”) cholesterol levels. Olive oil is also noted to have anti-bacterial characteristics and is hypothesized to have epigenetic effects interplay offering protection from cancers due to the presence of beneficial monounsaturated fats. Olive oil has high quantities of antioxidants and offers numerous benefits for cardiovascular health (from the edited volume “Olive Oil” By Muhammad Akram). Those characteristics are well known by Japanese consumers that already appreciated the European olive oil for its health benefits as well as its taste.

But European olive oil already has a reduced environmental footprint: even taking into account the carbon dioxide sequestration capacity of an olive tree, each kg of olive oil absorbs 0.4 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere during the agricultural phase. If, during the processing phase, solutions were then added to reduce energy consumption and the raw materials used in the processing and packaging phases, the emissions generated by the production of 1 kg of olive oil could be close to zero or even be negative. Because of its characteristics, the olive oil supply chain can become a model for the development of strategies to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

Portuguese PDO products

In Portugal there are now six national PDOs regions

Azeite de Trás-Os-Montes PDO

Extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil produced from the varieties of olive Verdeal transmontana, Madural, Cobrançosa, Cordovil and others.

Olive growers in Trás-os-Montes have always been among those who have taken the greatest care in cultivating the olive tree and picking the olives in the best possible conditions. In the “Terra Quente” area of Trás-os-Montes, for its performance, the olive tree is still considered a sacred tree today.

Trás-os-Montes olive oil is a balanced olive oil, with the smell and flavor of fresh fruit, sometimes almond and with a remarkable sensation of sweet, green, bitter and spicy characteristics, that make it distinguished from other olive oils in the country.

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Azeite de Moura PDO

“Azeite de Moura” is an extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil, obtained by mechanical processes, from olives of the Galega, Verdeal and Cordovil varieties which produce an olive oil with its own chemical and sensory characteristics. The Verdeal variety is included in the composition of the oil with a maximum of 15 – 20%, the Cordovil variety with a minimum of 35 – 40% and the Galega variety with the remaining percentage.

Only healthy olives are harvested and in full ripeness, and it is recommended that they be transported to the mill, in a short period of time, in medium-sized containers that allow good air circulation. In the mill, the olives must be cleaned and washed as soon as possible, and the storage time after cleaning and washing before milling should not exceed 24 hours. The olives are separated according to their origin, variety and quality.

Yellow-green olive oil with aroma and fruity flavor assigned to it by the Galega and Verdeal varieties and rich in monounsaturated fatty acids mainly arising from the Cordovil variety.

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Azeite do Alentejo Interior PDO

Extra virgin olive oil made mechanically from Galega Vulgar olive variety (60%), Cordovil de Serpa and/or Cobrançosa, presents, a maximum of 40%. Olives of other varieties may be used up to maximum of 5%, excluding, the Picual and Maçanilha varieties.

The olive oil is extracted by the traditional pressing method or by centrifuging. The method used is determined by the quality of the olives and the best quality olives are first processed. After the crushing process, the paste is centrifuged at a maximum temperature of the 30 °C to facilitate the extraction of the oil and conserve the original aroma.

This olive oil presents a golden yellow or greenish color. Includes different flavors from its olive varieties like fruity soft taste of olive, apple and/or fig and a typical sweet sensation.

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Azeites da Beira Interior PDO

Extra virgin olive oils and virgin olive oils, made from the olives varieties Galega, Verdeal Cobrançosa e Cordovil, but grown in two different areas, Beira Baixa and Beira Alta.

The olives are cleaned and washed, after the harvest and transport to the mill. After occurs the olives crushing and the resulting paste is then pressed (the temperature must be between 25 and 30 °C). Olive oil separation by centrifuging or decanting depends on whether the classic or continuous method is to be used. The olive oil is stored in either stainless steel or fiberglass resin container at a temperature of between 14°C and 18 °C. At the end, the olive oil is bottled in inert recipients, after the filtration process.

Azeites da Beira Interior PDO olive oil has a low to very low level of acidity. The main olive variety used is Galega, that makes the color varies from a yellow green to yellow hints of green. This fruit is also responsible for the typical aroma and a fruity taste of the olive.

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Azeites do Norte Alentejano PDO

Extra virgin olive oil made from Galega olive variety (a minimum of 65%), can be tolerated the olives varieties of Azeiteira, Blanqueta, Redondil and Carrasquenha in a maximum of 5% and Cobrançosa in a maximum of 10%.

Only healthy and ripe olives are harvested. At the mill the olives are cleaned, washed and crushed, cannot stay for more than 48 hours. The crushing and centrifugation processes are made at temperature equal or below 35 ⁰C.

Oils with low and very low acidity, slightly thick, fruity, golden yellow color with sometimes slightly greenish, smooth aroma and taste characteristic and pleasing to the palate. These distinguishing features results from the combination of olive varieties, their harvesting conditions and transportation to the mill and also its processing.

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Azeites do Ribatejo PDO

Extra virgin olive oil made from Galega and Lentisca olive varieties.

The olives are harvested when they are perfectly ripe, transported and stored in mill, not longer than 48 hours. After the washing and crushing processes, the olive paste is heated at maximum temperature of 35 °C, to improve the oil separation process. This can be made for two ways: the traditional with presses and, the modern, with centrifuges.

Azeites do Ribatejo PDO are low in acidity, slightly thick and has a fruity taste. The color is a golden yellow with occasional hints of green. The soil of the area where this oil is produced is principally lime, which together with the Mediterranean climate provides the ideal conditions for olive cultivation.

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