A fresh look at olive oil...
Many of us use it as a matter of course now in cooking, but we’re still largely ignorant about what to look for when buying.
One of Delia’s favourites is Mother’s Garden fresh extra virgin olive oil, run by Martin Kirby and Maggie Whitman from their farm in Catalonia, Spain. Their oil is one of only two on sale in the UK to have won a coveted 3-gold star award in the 2011 Great Taste Awards. Mother’s Garden supplies a growing number of leading chefs, delis and food lovers across the UK including Delia’s Canary Catering at Norwich City Football Club.
With regard to buying olive oil, Martin says that freshness is paramount – yet this is something that many people don’t realise. He says: “Quality and freshness are key. There can be no compromise for us. All containers carry the date of pressing and the date of bottling and we only sell olive oil from the most recent harvest.
“Slowly and surely more and more people are appreciating that freshness is vital, as vital as cold-pressing and knowing exactly where your food comes from. Extra virgin olive oil is simply the juice of the fruit with the water removed, and if it is not from the most recent harvest it will have considerably less flavour and goodness. Look for olive oils that give you the harvest date.
“Price, too, is vital, and we think that the very best fresh olive oil should be affordable so it can be at the heart of a family’s diet just as it is here in these mountains and throughout the Mediterranean countries.”
Based in the olive groves of The Priorat mountains in Catalonia, Spain, Mother’s Garden works with one mountain village cooperative mill close to the farm. Harvesting is in November and the fruit is hand-picked and pressed on the same day. The oil is carefully stored at the mill where the fruit is pressed until Martin and Maggie bottle, label and ship to customers.
They use small arbequina olives, which give a delicate oil: sweet with a lingering peppery and herbal finish. Its delicate taste means it can be enjoyed not only as a healthy alternative to butter or on salads, but in a host of different ways – drizzled on steamed vegetables, in soup, on fish, meat, in making fresh herb dressings etc.
“Here on the farm we have 80 olive trees, along with vines, almonds, hazels and fruits: the aim when we came here nearly 11 years ago was to fend for ourselves as much as possible. Visitors came from around the world after two Channel Four documentaries and the publication of No Going Back – Journey to Mother’s Garden and asked if we could supply them with our oil, so to do this, we turned to our farming neighbours whose families have been tending the ancient groves for countless generations. Getting the supreme award is a tribute to their dedication and wisdom.”
How do I order?
Get in touch direct or order online through their website www.mothersgarden.org
£37.50 for a 5 litre
£17.50 for a 2 litre
£39 for case of 6×500ml glass bottles
20 litre bag in a box with tap at £150
No delivery charge if order is £100+
To cut transport and packaging Mother’s Garden encourages hubs – groups of friends, family and colleagues who share a delivery, cutting cost in the process, and these are springing up all over the country.
You can visit the olive groves and tiny Priorat region.
Mother’s Garden also offers a farm holiday cottage on the farm, so people from around the world can get a taste of Martin and Maggie’s Iberian mountain life.
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