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Olive Oil of Italy

Tuscan Olive Oil

The demise of the Roman Empire also heralded the decline of agriculture and stagnation of the commercial industry. As a result, the previously thriving olive tree farming industry was badly affected and greatly diminished in size. Throughout the Middle Ages, most of the sizable olive tree plantations that remained were tended by inhabitants of the local convents, before the collectives regained interest in the manufacture of olive oil. At the same time, Venice and Genoa were vying for dominance of commercial activities. However Florence had already established control over the olive oil industry, which expanded quickly under the strict guidance of the government. Because it was an essential ingredient of soap and many foods, olive oil quickly became a valuable commodity both in commerce and the political arena. in order to encourage olive oil production, the Medici family in Tuscany began granting local communes in Florence use of land for olive and grape cultivation at low rent, thus transforming the surrounding terrain into what it is today.

Of the large variety of olives being cultivated in Tuscany, the Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino varieties are the most common. Of the four, Frantoio is the most popular, producing a fragrant and svaory olive oil. The moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino olives also produce rich olive oils and have the added advantage of being able to stand more adverse climate conditions  than the Frantoio variety.

Unlike the majority of cooking done elsewhere, almost all cooking done in Tuscany uses olive oil, to the exclusion of butter. Olive oil is used in a multitude of ways, both during the cooking process and as a condiment on cooked food. Bread, soups, cooked vegetables and meats all benefit from greater taste and flavor upon the addition of olive oil. The evaporation of the olive oil due to heat from cooked food adds an enticing aroma that serves to enhance the overall dining experience.

[tag] Italy olive oil, Tuscan olive oil[/tag]

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