Treasured since ancient times for their excellent nutritional quality, olives and olive oil have always been essential component of the diet in many Mediterranean civilizations, especially those located in Anatolia. Turkish olive oil and olive have been indispensable ingredients of the Ottoman and Turkish culture, and the Mediterranean cuisine. The accounting records of Ottoman palace kitchens reveal that olive and olive oil were purchased in enormous quantities. Olive holds an important place both in the Ottoman and in the Turkish cuisine, and it is vital for the industry of Turkey. Although it is difficult to determine the exact provenance of the olive tree, it is generally believed to be indigenous to the Anatolian lands because it grows by itself in the Aegean region. In this region, the wild olive tree, “Olea Europea Oleaster” is much more common than the domesticated variety known as “Olea Europea Sativa.”
Considered sacred, it has been the symbol of peace and richness connecting three continents in one soul. Although the olive tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean basin, it gradually spread westwards beyond Turkey into Europe thanks to its increased importance as a source of edible oil.
Having the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey has been one of the major producers of olives among Mediterranean countries. Thus, olive oil traditions and dishes have been the pride of Turkish cuisine since the time of the Ottomans. Likewise, table olives have been a staple at every Turkish breakfast, generally beside a slice of bread and traditional white cheese. Today, Turkey supplies olives and olive oil of Mediterranean cuisine all over the world.
Turkish Olive and Olive Oil Key Figures
The Reasons Why You Should Prefer Turkish Olives and Olive Oil
In Turkey, olive oil production has undergone remarkable developments since the eighties and more and more olive oil plants have either started to produce virgin olive oil or increased their production capacity. Today, Turkey has large-scale olive oil plants with modern bottling lines. Table olives are also produced in modern plants equipped with advanced technology, which enables them to comply with the standards of hygienic packaging. High quality production of table olives is done in retail packs such as cans, glass jars and/or vacuum packed bags. There are compulsory export standards for table olives and olive oil in Turkey, thus, production in all plants conforms to the standards of the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE), which are also consistent with the international standards.
Being a net exporter of olive oil, Turkey supplies the variety of olive oil to a wide range of countries including major producer countries that either consume or re-export Turkish olive oil. Turkish olive oil is demanded from every part of the world and there are more than hundred countries that have experienced the excellent taste and fragrance of Turkish olive oil such as the EU, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Australia and the Russian Federation.
Olives, a Feature of Turkey since 4000 BC
The value and unique characteristics of olives and olive oil have been acknowledged for centuries and are gaining even more prominence today. Cultivation of this noble fruit is concentrated in specific regions of the world, primarily in the countries bordering the shores of the Mediterranean. Turkey is one of those fortunate countries and is ranked as the world’s second biggest producer.
Over the past ten years, Turkey has made major progress in olive cultivation. It has established processing plants with the technology and capacity to produce large volumes of top-quality Turkish olive oils and table olives for the world market. It has also made impressive advances in olive oil production. Active in the extraction, refining and packaging of Turkish olive oil to world standards have taken up their rightful place in the industry and continue to pursue success. In the years ahead, Turkey intends to push forward with development and increase its share of global trade.
Historical Olive and Olive Oil Landmarks in Turkey
- Erythrai, near Cesme (Ildır) This ancient city was one of the leading olive oil export centres in the 6th century BC.
- Urla An olive oil press dating from the 6th century BC was discovered at this site as well as olive stores from between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.
- Izmir The place where Homer read his epics to friends and dined with them under the shade of olive trees in 1199 BC.
- Miletus Thales of Miletus forecast the next year’s olive yields according to his meteorological studies.
- Kaş UluburunRemains of olives were found on board the Uluburun Bronze Age shipwreck.
- Mut A 1300-year-old olive tree still lives here.
- Hatay This place is the motherland of the olive and home to Turkey’s second oldest olive tree, the trunk of which measures 110 cm in diameter.
- Ağrı Doves carrying olive branches in their beak to Noah’s Ark have been the symbol of peace since time immemorial.
Turkey is the homeland of olive oil.
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