“Leucolea”, the historical white olive of Calabria


Not many people know of the existence of so-called “white olives“. This ancient variety has been recovered in Rossano. The plant, which at the time of the Magna Graecia was widespread throughout Calabria, especially near the Basilian monasteries, was called “leucolea“, which means white olive, due to the characteristic of its external peel which remains white even when they reach the full maturation.



The Leucolea is an ancient olive cultivar that survives as a wild variety especially in Calabria and has the particularity of presenting white fruits.

Rossano, S. Maria del Patire Church

Before maturation the olives appear to be of a beautiful green color, like those of other varieties, but subsequently the exocarp does not become pigmented, it remains white.

Olea Leucocarpa

Usually, in fact, at the time of veraison (botanic term for maturation) within the fruits there is a degradation of chlorophyll and an increase in the production of anthocyanins which give the olives the characteristic black-blue color. In the case of this white olive, called Leucocarpa, instead, the synthesis of pigments is blocked and in the face of a decrease in chlorophyll there is no correspondent increase in anthocyanins.

Rossano, S. Marco Church


As many historical sources report, the Basilian monks since 800 A.D. the time gave a strong impulse to some crops in Calabria and probably took care of these olive trees to use them in liturgical rites.

Saint Basil

The oil of the leucolea, in fact, was also called “crisma’s oil” and was used in religious functions to anoint the priests and the high Byzantine imperial officials, in the ceremonies for the crowning of the emperors, and above all as a sacred oil in holy sacraments such as baptism, confirmation and anointing of the sick.

Extra virgin olive oil, which is the best?


What is the best olive oil on the market? A survey in 2019 has examined 30 brands of extra virgin olive oil commonly sold at the Italian supermarket (organic and non-organic) and has compiled an interesting list: 22 products passed the exam.

One of the most beneficial food products for our health, olive oil, has quality often undermined by threats such as the widespread use of insecticides in olive groves or the price war, but constant monitoring allows us to purchase excellent products.

This is why; first, it is necessary to be wary of low cost offers and rather to look at the cost per liter and the label:

– The European origin (can be indicated the State from which the product arrives or, even more generically, Union) says that a member country produces the olive oil. The indication of origin refers to the area in which the olives were harvested and where the oil mill where the oil was extracted is located.

– The classification, the name, the producer, the volume and the expiry date are fundamental elements to take into consideration (the bottling date or the harvest year, on the other hand, are optional specifications).

EVO in a laboratory


In the analyzes the chemical and taste tests of the panel of tasters evaluated parameters such as:

Acidity, which tends to increase especially if the olives from which the oil was obtained were not in perfect condition

Number of peroxides, i.e. the state of oxidation of the oil

Spectrophotometric analysis in the UV, which evaluates the absorption of ultraviolet rays and provides useful information on the state of preservation of the oil

Level of alkyl ethyl esters of fatty acids, to assess the quality of the starting olives

Organoleptic assessment, conducted by a panel of expert tasters to verify the conformity of the products to the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil

Chemical analyzes conducted and envisaged by European legislation to check that the extra virgin olive oil has not been counterfeited, namely that is mixed with different oils or refined olive oils.

The oils judged not to be high (“low quality”) are eight, due to the failure to pass the sensory test, even if the chemical analyzes, unlike the past tests, have excluded any type of fraud.

Quality first


Once you buy a good oil, remember that it must be stored correctly. Indeed, exposure to air, light and heat are its enemies and olive oil is easily subject to oxidation.

We need to remember to:

• Store the oil in a cool, dry place, away from light and heat sources

• Prefer stainless steel (classic milk) or dark glass containers and to use transparent oil bottles for the quotidian cooking

• Always close the bottle to prevent air contamination.