Agrumato is a method of making flavoured olive oil where the whole ingredient is crushed directly with the olives in the mill. This releases all the essential oils and flavour components together creating a harmonic combination of the ingredient and olives.
This is how we make our lemon flavoured olive oil and why the flavour packs a punch - pure and fresh, just as if you are squeezing a real Sicilian lemon.
The original agrumato flavoured oils were always citrus which is where is name comes from: 'agrumato' in Italian literally means 'citrusy'. Citrus trees love the Italian climate and the strong essential oils in the fruit's peel makes them perfect for this whole fruit method. Nowadays the same method is used to create other flavoured oil too, for instance lemon was the first of five agrumato style Nudo flavoured oils.
The agrumato method itself originated in Italy's famous olive oil region, Abruzzo. As the process is more time consuming and expensive than making extra virgin or infused olives oils, the olive farmers would make their agrumato oils in limited quantities which were reserved as special gifts people were honoured to receive.
Why is it more time consuming and expensive?
Read below about how we make our agrumato Sicilian lemon flavoured olive oil and see...
The divine duo
What makes the agrumato lemon olive oil so unique and fresh in flavour is the fusing of the lemon's essentials oils with the olive's oil during this agrumato process. The lemon's flavours combine with the olives in a true unity, coming together into a heavenly mix of pure flavours.
This is where the name of our Divino Duo gift set comes from with a tin each of our extra virgin and lemon oils: as the combination of the olives and lemons is truly divine.
Of course, as with anything, to get the best result the best ingredients are needed. The two core things here are freshness and quality.
"It is very important to Nudo for all the quality of the oil that we use freshly picked olives and freshly picked lemons." Corrado
So first things first, we need to ensure that to have both freshly picked top quality lemons and extra virgin quality olives.
Not all lemons are created equal and Sicilian lemons are famous in their own right. The hot days and cooler nights of Sicily are perfect for growing lemons and the consistency of the climate allows for an almost year long supply. This climate, along with the rich volcanic soil means that Sicilian lemons are simply some of the best in the world. Plus, Sicily has been growing lemons for almost 3,000 years, so it's hard to argue with their zesty experience.
So naturally when looking for only the best for our lemon flavoured oil, we headed straight off to Sicily.
Extra virgin quality olives
The olives we use are from our trusted groves in Le Marche. We source a blend of characteristic olive cultivars of the region, selected to ensure the best balance between the lemon and olives where neither flavour is overpowered. The most notable are Leccino and Frantoio, two characteristic cultivars of the Marche region.
Flavoured oils cannot be classified as extra virgin olive oil as extra virgin olive oil must be purely olives and the additional components adjust things like the acidity level. However the olives we use are extra virgin quality: they are pressed the same day they are picked just like for our extra virgin olive oil.
Fresh + Fresh
We had sourced our Sicilian lemons and our top-quality olives, but we were faced with the final challenge of logistics: our oil mill is in Le Marche, over 1,000km away.
"The difficult part for us is on one hand being we source the olives from the local groves in Le Marche and on the other hand the lemons which come directly from Sicily. They need to arrive at the same time in order to be able to grind them together when they are at their freshest to make the best product" Corrado
We need to ensure both the lemons and olives arrive at the mill at the same time for maximum freshness and thus quality. So straight after our lemons are picked, they are driven up from the south to arrive at the oil mill on the same day our olives are picked from the groves in Le Marche. A nightmare of logistics for a daydream result.
Mastering the agrumato method
When they lemons and olives arrive at the mill (after the sigh of relief) the first step is washing. The lemons are washed separately in a fairly manual process as they are too big to fit into the cleaning mechanism in the mill designed for the little olives.
Once the lemons are squeaky clean they are poured into the press to be ground together with the olives. The whole lemon is used so all the flavour is released from the flesh and skin, and all the citrus oil combines with the olives oil. During this process in the mill, you can smell the fragrance and aroma of the ingredients.
From here the olives and lemons are as one in the mill and continue on in the process of making extra virgin olive oil. The lemon and olive sediment is mixed to release all of the oils from the flesh and is then pressed to separate the remaining oil. The water contents is then separated off and the remaining oil filtered to remove any remaining sediment for a clearer lemon oil result.
Lemon flavoured olive oil
Our agrumato Sicilian lemon oil is a customer favourite and with so many applications it's not so surprising. Great drizzled on salads or fish, anywhere you would use a lemon as the flavour is so lovely and pure.
We asked Corrado what his favourite use is and it was a classically simple answer: "pasta in bianco" simply pasta tossed in the lemon oil with lots of Parmesan. Molto bene.