Why we should be using locally produced olive oil

15 May 2015

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit Gabriëlskloof Estate at Bot River.  It was a cold misty day and as the shuttle wound past Elgin and the incredible Autumnal colours of the countryside I felt like I was on a holiday from the same old routine. I love my life, but it’s good to have even a small break to a place so stunningly beautiful.

Gabriëlskloof is a wine estate in the heart of the Overberg, their wines are typical of that region, and are fantastic (particularly the reserve range) - but they also produce one of South Africa’s top olive oils. On this visit to estate the focus was on the olive oil production and the highlight was to be lunch in the Gabriëlskloof restaurant, showcasing their new Winter menu.

We were taken through the process of making olive oil, from picking or raking olives out of the trees – to them being made into the final product of bottled olive oil – all in one day! I even got to take my own pressed olive oil home at the end of the day.

We all use olive oil almost every single day – yet there is so much that we don’t know about it. You can start finding out the more important things about olive oil here in this article by a local foodie who is passionate about South African olive oil, Dax Villanueva. You can also follow him on Twitter on @OliveCentralZA to find out the latest about South African olive oils.

To me, the stand-out point for the day was why are South Africans not buying more locally produced oil? It seems a very logical decision to me now, but that is because I have had the opportunity of visiting the farm and talking to the people who make it. 

Is it because the overseas oils are of a better quality?  No, South African olive oils are rated amongst the best in the world.
Is it because imported olive oils are cheaper? If they are cheaper it’s because we are being sent the lower quality (cheaper) oil – not the top quality oils - from places like Greece, Spain and Italy.  

Also, to maintain the health benefits of olive oil, the sooner you use it the better. Then it also just makes sense to buy locally produced oil surely? It doesn’t take the time to get onto our shelves that the imported oils do.  You should be using it within 18 months of manufacture date, preferably a year. You should ideally go vintage to vintage. The Gabriëlskloof 2015 vintage is about to come out – so look out for it on shelves.

I was also pleased to hear from Barry Anderson, General Manager of Gabriëlskloof, that Checkers are starting to promote SA Olive oils almost exclusively. It’s great to see a big supermarket chain embracing the locally produced gems and showing faith in premium South African olive oils. To me, this is where the consumer will make the decision to try something new and local, with the best possible results. So please look out for them on the shelves at Checkers. And trust me - they are the very best locally produced oils.

Oh, I meant to tell you more about the stunning restaurant at Gabriëlskloof with its new Winter menu. Unbelievable. You’ll have to read about it here. But please, if you can, go and check it out for yourself.  A slice of paradise with a roaring fire, amazing wines,  great food, and a top quality olive oil.

- Cathrine Shone


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