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Aceite de las Valdesas

Bitter olive oils  


The bitterness of olive oils is a fairly controversial topic in the world of olive oil, among producers, tasters and consumers alike.

According to the tasters, bitterness is a positive attribute of Extra Virgin Olive Oils, as long as it is balanced with the rest of the positive attributes, such as fruity notes and pungency.

Opinions among consumers are mixed, there are some who love bitter Extra Virgin Olive Oils, and others who in no way appreciate them.

Most varieties of olives produce bitter oils to a greater or lesser extent.


Why is olive oil bitter?

Those responsible for giving olive oil a bitter taste are natural compounds called polyphenols. Among them, oleuropein stands out as one of the most abundant polyphenols in olive oil and what brings the bitter taste.

Thus, the more oleuropein an oil has, the more bitter it will be.

At the same time, oleuropein is a powerful antioxidant, which makes bitter oils more stable at high temperatures and over time. In the same way, bitter oils, having a higher concentration of polyphenols, are healthier (see health benefits of olive oil).


Which olive oils are more bitter?

Since the bitterness of an Extra Virgin Olive Oil depends on the amount of oleuropein, the olive oils with the most oleuropein will be the most bitter.

The amount of this compound in the oil depends on several factors:

  1. Variety. There are varieties that naturally generate more oleuropein than others.
  2. Harvest time.  When the olive goes through veraison (the moment when the olive changes color from green to purple) the concentration of oleuropein peaks. Therefore, early harvest oils will, in general, contain more oleuropein.
  3. Conservation of oil. Since polyphenols act as antioxidants, they are "consumed" upon contact with oxygen. So, a fresh oil will tend to be more bitter than after eight months.


Which varieties of olive oil are more bitter?

The Spanish varieties of oils with greater intensity in their bitterness due to their high concentration of polyphenols and antioxidants are picual, cornicabra and manzanilla sevillana.

Picual: Variety originating from Jaén, cultivated in that area and in other provinces such as Granada, Córdoba and Ciudad Real.

Cornicabra: Variety originating from Toledo, cultivated in that area along with the areas of Ciudad Real, Cáceres, Madrid and Badajoz.

Manzanilla sevillana: Variety originating from Seville. Mainly used as table olives, although it is also ground for oil.


Which oils from Las Valdesas are more bitter?

At Las Valdesas we make picual and manzanilla olive oils. They are available in our online store.

If you want to try them with all their intensity, we recommend that you try them freshly made. You can leave us your email a little further down in "Notice about new crop oils".