Nestled against the sun-drenched slopes of the Veneto region of northern Italy exists a group of small, organic growers committed to preserving groves of ancient Roman olives. While olive oil production is changing to meet a new, industrialized era that dismisses heirloom varieties and favors mechanized harvests, these growers whose land hovers between 2 and 6 acres remain committed to the art and tradition of growing ancient varieties of olive – Favarol, Grignano and Nostrano – varieties that might fall to extinction were it not for their passionate commitment and the support of Jovial Foods, a company committed to reviving near-lost, ancient varieties of whole foods and making them available to the public.
Why Heirloom Olives Deserve Preservation
These ancient varieties, particularly Favarol, typically require more labor-intensive cultivation yet can yield variable production from year to year, and as the worldwide demand for olive oil increases, olive oil producers find themselves cutting down these ancient groves of heirloom varietals for a handful of modern varieties that require less labor, lend themselves more easily to mechanized harvests, and produce prolifically each year. As a result, groves of ancient varieties are slowly disappearing from the Italian landscape.
Like heirloom varieties of vegetables, these ancient olives each carry with them a distinctive value – flavor, resistance to disease. And if they disappear, those attributes will also disappear. In choosing to preserve these foods and make their distinctive olive oil available to the public, the farming and care of these ancient varieties becomes economically sustainable for small growers, and helps to preserve the olives’ distinct culinary and cultural heritage.
Heirloom Olives and Hand Harvesting Make Exquisite Olive Oil
Favarol, Grignano and Nostrano each offer distinct flavors, and, when blended together, create an exceptional olive oil with a flavor that is at once more complex and and yet milder than run-of-the-mill, store-bought oils. The Nostrano olive presents a light, fruity flavor with a faint almond-like finish, while Grignano offers a distinct, but not overpowering, fruitiness with a lemony finish. Together the three olives produce a remarkable blend that is mild, but complex with a distinct finish.
Further, heirloom olives benefit from time-honored production methods: hand selection and true cold-pressing which keep the oil’s acidity low, and its array of phytonutrients and antioxidants high.
An Interview with Jovial’s Founder and Olive Oil Producers
Jovial’s Commitment to Traditional Foods
Jovial Foods has committed itself to the revival of traditional food pathways and preservation of ancient varietals of not only olives, but also grains like einkorn wheat. While traveling in Italy, visiting the independent farms that work with Jovial foods, I witnessed Jovial’s singular commitment to preserving real food, by creating distinctive products like their Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In this way, Jovial’s commitment to small-scale farming, integrity throughout production works to not only preserve ancient varietals and food pathways, but to also make them economically viable for farmers.
Jovial’s oil is not only produced from heirloom varieties, but it is also pressed the traditional way: on a stone mill, and its temperature during processing never exceeds 80 F, which helps to preserve the oil’s fragile antioxidants and phytonutrients. Further, the oil is produced and bottled on-site ensuring the integrity and quality of the oil from harvest through bottling.
Where to Find Jovial’s New Harvest Olive Oil
This special reserve olive oil is available for purchase online. The olives are being harvested and pressed now, and the oil will be available in January. You can preorder your olive oil now at a 20% discount, and it will ship to you in January.
This post is sponsored by Jovial Foods, a company committed to reviving traditional food pathways and producing food with integrity. Thank you for supporting the companies I believe in, and allowing me to tell you their story.