Olive Tree & Olives

The Olive Tree

The olive tree is a medium-sized tree, highly resistant, with roots that reach 6 meters, with about 400 known species. It grows slowly and usually only starts to produce as from the fifth year. Within the species Olea europea L. there are many groups of varieties, spread across different olive-growing areas.
The most important varieties in Portugal are olive Galega, Carrasquenha, Cordovil, Cobrançosa and Verdeal, among others.
Given its hardiness, the olive tree is often grown on lands where no other plant would resist. But when the olive is treated as a real culture, production increases in quantity and, compared to the extreme, also in quality. On average, an olive tree gives 20 kg of olives, requiring about 5-6 kg to produce 1 liter of oil.

Main types of olives in Portugal

  • Carrasquenha

    It features an average high income in olive oil and of good quality. Generally used for preparing olive green table (and also used in oil).

  • Cobrançosa

    Originated in the region of Trás-os-Montes, its productivity is high and constant and it gives a good oil yield, which is its main usage. This oil has a slight to moderately fruity feature, underscoring the green herbs.
    Taste bitter and spicy subtly, when the olives are harvested greener but more sweet and soft when the fruits are harvested more mature.
    Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, therefore resistant to oxidation, which obtains always a balanced olive oil.

  • Cordovil

    This type of olive is used in olive oil and table olives (one of appreciated green olives), is originally from Castelo Branco.
    The oil yield is average and is prized for its high quality and abundance of oleic acid. Being rich in oleic acid, the olive oil is very thin, with intense and fruity characteristics, the sharp green leafs are moderately bitter and spicy.

  • Galega Vulgar

    It is intended for the production of olive oil and table olives.
    Being a variety that is mainly dedicated to obtain oil, despite the low yield, it is also appreciated as table olives. It is valued for its drought tolerance. It is sensitive to cold, salinity and limestone. Productivity is high and alternating. Fruit maturation occurs very early.
    This is the most common variety of olives in Portugal, available from regions of Beiras, Alentejo and Algarve. Its oil is soft, sweet, slightly bitter and spicy.

  • Galega

    Mainly for table olives but also for olive oil production (although with a weak oil yield).
    This variety represents four fifths of olives cultivated in Portugal. Its oil has fruity aromas, being sweet and having the flavour of green fruits and nutty notes. When the olives are collected still green, the olive oil tastes subtly bitter and spicy.
    Black olive oil is appreciated.

  • Maçanilha Algarvia

    Purpose: olive oil and table olives.
    Can be used both to obtain olive oil, for its high yield, and as for table olives, green or ripe, because of the size and calibre of the fruit.
    Fruit intended for canned green due to its excellent quality as table olives. Olive oil obtained is considered of good quality.

  • Redondil

    Purpose: To produce olive oil and table olives, due to the high oil yield, as well as for its quality and abundance in oleic acids. As table olives, is appreciated for its size.

  • Picual

    Fruit usually only used for olive oil, because it gives a good oil yield.
    It is the olive that more thrives throughout the world and it accounts for about half of the Spanish olive and 20% in the rest of the planet.
    Its oil is rich in fatty acids and natural antioxidants. The large presence of polyphenols makes it one of the most stable (balanced) oils.
    The quality of olive oil is highly dependent on where the olives are grown; it can be green, bitter and spicy but also, with intense fruity notes, green grass and broom, green apple and nuts.
    When it is grown in lowlands, the olive oil is more bitter and spicy and when it grows in mountainous regions it is sweetened.

  • Verdeal

    It grows nicely in almost all Portuguese soil. Used green for table olives, but mainly for oil extraction, with a good income. It matures late.
    The resulting oil is very thin, with remarkable fruity, persistent, with green leaves and quite bitter and spicy flavours.
    Easily found in both Alentejo as in Tras-os-Montes regions.

  • Madural

    One of the most rare varieties produced in Portugal, it is also known as “negral”, grows in Tras-os-Montes (North of Portugal), and it is used to produce olive oil.