More About Portuguese Olive Oil
Unlike most of its counterparts in the Mediterranean basin, Portugal is one of the rare olive oil producing countries that does not actually border the Mediterranean Sea. Instead Portugal has a long coastline along the Atlantic and is known for its citizens annually consuming almost 20% of the world's Atlantic Cod. Interestingly, extra virgin olive oil is essential to most of Portugal's traditional codfish recipes. Portugal typically ranks around 7th in the world in annual olive oil production. The Alentejo region in Southern Portugal, where olive farming is primarily high-density, is responsible for about 70% of the country's olive oil. The more rugged Mirandela region in the northeast produces about 30% of Portugal's olive oil. Olive oil production in Portugal dates at least to the Middle Ages, and became more abundant during the times of Arab rule. In fact the word for olive oil in Portuguese, 'azeite' comes from 'az-zeit,' a word with Arab origin that means olive juice. The importance of olive oil is also revealed in the historical record of Portuguese King João III, who included olive oil alongside wine and bread as foods not subject to taxation. Some of the typical olive varieties grown in Portugal are Cobrançosa, Cordovil de Serpa, Galician, Madural and Verdeal.