Category Archives: General

general-en

Redes Biosphere Reserve (Asturias) Efrén Sánchez

Fall for Spain

Click the top-right corner to enjoy FULL SCREEN.

italian scam olive oil

Stop the Italian scam, the olive oil you are buying is surely Spanish!!

Who has not heard about the magnificent and tasty Italian virgin olive oil? Yet how many people know that much of this oil is Spanish? Help us to stop the Italian scam on Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Indeed Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world and sells 65% of that oil to Italians who make their own labels and export that oil to the rest of the world. Apparently Spain is a better producer than seller.

olive_oil_scam

In fact, Italy exports three times more oil than it produces. But what consumers may not realise is that Italy exports oil whose labels say “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil” and yet only  60 % of that oil is extra virgin. This 60% is mostly Spanish, which has the properties and quality of a real Extra Virgin oil (in aroma and acidity). Italy uses Greek and Moroccan oil as well.

The only way that Spanish oil can demonstrate its quality is with the Protected Designations of Origin. This certification is only granted if the bottling of the oil takes place in the same place where it is produced. One example of this Protected Denomination of outstanding quality is D.O. Sierra Mágina. This area, located in the south of Spain (Jaen), is the largest area with certificate of origin of those registered in the European Union. The oil from this area is famous for its quality and beneficial properties, and is one of the best oils in Spain and hence in the world.

olive_oil_scamOne of the reasons why Spainisdelicious was born was to stand up and point out good quality Spanish products, and to attempt to protect artisans and small producers from the dirty tactics of big industry. All the products we talk about are sold in our partner shop Spaininabox, and are made by small producers that care about their produce as if they were their own children.

So if you want to buy really good extra virgin oil, first you have to check if it has its certificate of origin, and question the famous Italian oil that is on the shelves of all the big stores. If you wish to know more about the provenance of Italian Olive Oil I strongly recommend you take a look at Nicholas Blechman’s article in The New York Times or this article and Tom Mueller’s article, both in The Guardian.

Spainisdelicious will try, as best it can, to act as an antidote to these tactics in two ways: by highlighting selected producers that work ethically in the production process, and by arranging visits to their workplaces so you can see with your own eyes how everything is done.

Remember that you may pay a bit more for Spanish oil than for Italian, but sometimes it is better to spend a little bit more on our health. Buying cheaper olive oil in the end is going to be a false economy because you are likely paying for something that is not even olive oil.

tasting_extra_virgin_olive_oil

4 STEPS WHEN TASTING EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Do you know how to distinguish a good extra virgin olive oil from another not that good? In this post you will learn how the masters do when tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

We have all heard about the famous wine tasters, also known as sommeliers. But, have you heard about olive oil tasters? These professionals have to tasting_extra_virgin_olive_oilvalue the same properties in olive oil that the sommeliers do in wine.

The only big difference is that olive oil tasters do not care about the colour of oil and they taste in blue glasses so that the colour doesn’t interfere in their ratings, whereas the colour and ribbons are essential in wine tasting.

So let’s start with the tasting guide for Olive Oil, as mentioned before, in only 4 steps: visual, smell, taste and touch.

SMELL

Pour the oil in a blue or at least dark glass, just about 5 tea spoons. Cover the glass with one hand and hold it with the other making small circle movements to let the aroma release. Uncover the glass and breathe in the aromas. Repeat several times varying from briefly and shortly, to deeply and slowly.

At this point tasters just check if the smell is pleasant or unpleasant, if they like it or not. Positive hints are almond, apple, grass, etc. Negatives are all unpleasant smells, for example: vinegary, rancid, etc.

TASTE

Tasters slurp a little bit of oil and at the same time they take some air as well, making a peculiar weird noise. This is because the air helps the oil to spread into the mouth and highlight every hint of flavour. This noise is also done by the sommeliers and is sometimes funny to see them tasting the wine.

A fruity taste, the bitterness, and a dry sensation are positive aspects. Metallic, winey are negative tastes.

TOUCH

In this step you should evaluate the feel of the oil in the mouth and palate. The oil has to have a strong consistency but at the same time has to be watery. A pasty feeling is a negative aspect.

VISUAL

Colour is not an important aspect in olive oil tasting. It’s a common mistake thinking that an olive oil is better if it’s green. Clarity and tasting_extra_virgin_olive_oiltransparency is a positive aspect when tasting olive oil. Muddy or cloudy oil is not good oil.

No one is born knowing how to taste an extra virgin olive oil and that is why these simple steps are very helpful if you are ever interested in tasting oil. Obviously, the taste depends on the taster aptitudes but also on the difficulties of the product itself.

Do not be afraid to start and became an expert in the virgin olive oil tasting. Soon we will be offering tasting packs but meanwhile you can start tasting some of this oil treasures.

Matacerdo

Origins of Iberico ham

When the Romans arrived in ancient Iberia, among the many benefits offered by the land, they found that the Iberians had a knack for making ham. As great observers, the Romans soon realised the qualities of this delicacy. It was easy to prepare, had a great capacity for conservation and, above all, it tasted great. The Romans had discovered…. Iberian Ham.

Techniques on general pork grocery and ham in particular came to the peninsula from the Phoenicians. Strabo (I B.C.) tells us so in his book Geographica :

“… most of them are occupied by Kerretanoís, people of Iberian ancestry, among which excellent hams are made, comparable to those made by [the] Cantabrian [people], providing no small income to residents”

It soon became one of the leading Hispanic products exported to Rome but the most valued of all hams were those of Hispania Pompaelo (Pamplona). Yes, a good Spanish ham was expensive and exclusive, reserved only for the upper classes. At the roman_coinstime of the Emperor Diocletian, the price of a ham was set at 20 denarii, a significant amount for food. It was so valued that even ham-shaped coins were made during the age of Augustus and Agripa.

So it is not surprising that after more than two-thousand years of it’s successful production and consumption in every corner of the peninsula, the ham has become a pennant of Spanish gastronomy, as well as being something which, in a country where the people famously disagree on most things, has established itself as a firm favourite among the majority!

iberico dehesa

Ham Quality Watchers, new labelling on

A new Quality Standard for Iberico has taken effect which establishes the different types of ham depending on purity of the race, how the pigs are raised and the food they received. This has been a long awaited regulation among producers of the highest quality as the Iberian breed and extensive production at Dehesas was becoming weaker and weaker in front of the Duroc breed and the intensive methods. Don’t forget that the Iberian race and the extensive production that allow the pig to roam freely at the Dehesa is what give to Iberico ham that sweetness and meltingly tender and juicy texture.

To make it easier to understand, Iberico hams will have to be labelled depending on this characteristics as follow:

100% Iberico, from animals with 100 % genetic purity of the Iberian breed, and whose parents have the same 100 % Iberian racial purity.
…And depending on how they have been raised, the ham is classed as:

      • …de Bellota: if they were free range and mainly fed with acorns and grasses.
      • …de Cebo de Campo: Free range, but fed on grain, legumes and pasture plus acorns from the Dehesa.
      • …de Cebo: Farmed animals fed with grain and legumes.

Iberico %, from animals with at least 50% Iberian genetic purity.
…And depending on how they have been raised, the ham is classed as:

      • …de Bellota: if they were free range and mainly fed with acorns and grasses.
      • …de Cebo de Campo: Free range, but fed on grain, legumes and pasture plus acorns from the Dehesa.
      • …de Cebo: Farmed animals fed with grain and legumes.

Also some of the usual terms used to refer to these products have been redefined to avoid confusing. The popular term “Pata Negra” can only appear on the label of the highest quality product, i.e. the “100 % Iberico de Bellota”. Pack IbericoThe terms “Dehesa” and “Montanera” can only be used in the labelling of products “de Bellota” regardless of the purity of the breed and never in “Cebo de Campo” or “Cebo”. From now on the use the terms “Recebo” and “Iberico puro (pure Iberian)” in the labelling of the product is prohibited.

CONSUMER TIPS

+++So far the safest way to acquire a 100 % Iberian was one that was certified by any of D.O. (Protected Origin Denomination) or IGPs (Protected Geographical Indication) that exist in Spain. From now on you can buy it with assurance without having to be certified by D.O. or IGP. Although if it is, you will be taking home the best possible ham.

+++Under our criteria this would be the quality ranking for Iberico hams from highest to lowest quality.

1st Jamón de Bellota 100% Iberico
2nd Jamón de Bellota Iberico
3rd Jamón de Cebo de Campo 100% Iberico
4th Jamón de Cebo de Campo Iberico
5th Jamón de Cebo 100% Iberico
6th Jamón de Cebo Iberico

The new rules established by law have been published and will be effective from 10/01/2014. If you are a wishful Spanish speaker brave enough to study new law, text is available at the Official site!

iberico_labels

Black, Red, Green or White. Choose your Iberico ham.

The new regulation for Iberico products which has just been approved establishes the following labels for an easy identification of the different quality standards of products.

      • Red label. A free range swine fed exclusively with acorns.
      • Green label. A free range animal fed with grains and legumes.
      • White label. Farm-dwelling swine fed with grains and legumes.
      • Black label. This label refers to the highest quality ham, exclusive for swine which are 100% genetically Iberico and have been afforded the freedom of roaming the Dehesa, eating as many acorn as they wish.

What do you think about this labelling?

spaininabox.eu

50% OFF vouchers, Easy

Get a 50% OFF and free delivery subscribing to the SpaininaBox newsletter. Be the first to order our next delicious hamper.Enter your email on the left to follow this blog and join the gastro traveling experience today! Know more about the Spanish gastronomy, small producers and special products through our hampers; get information should you need for you routes, we will arrange visits to our suppliers for you.
To help you taking this such a brave decision ;-D we will award you with a 50% off voucher code to spend in www.spaininabox.eu. Get a hamper like this for just around £100 delivery included.
Enjoy!!