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Institute of Oliveculture ZRS Koper awards the best table olives

The Institute of Oliveculture of the Koper Science and Research Centre (ZRS Koper) has already organized the 5th Table Olive Festival. This year, in cooperation with the company Soline, the production of salt was upgraded with the SOLJKE project, which aims to promote the tradition of investing in table olives, while developing new, innovative products from olives, salt and olive oil. In addition to today’s awards and prizes for olive growers for the best table olives, an exhibition of table olives and a guided tasting were organized in the Sečovlje salt pans.

The Table Olive Festival has been taking place for the fifth year this year, but it has been upgraded at the Institute for Oliveculture (IZO) of the Scientific Research Centre (ZRS) Koper with the SOLJKE project. “The goal of the project is to develop new products from olives, olive oil, salt and spices together with olive growers, while maintaining the tradition of investing in olives,” said the project manager and head of IZO ZRS Koper dr. Maja Podgornik. As she added, “We would like table or pickled olives to acquire a protected designation of origin, as is already the case for Piran salt and Extra virgin olive oil from Slovenian Istria“.

We at the institute are well aware that the first condition for good table olives is met with healthy fruits, which are very difficult to produce in these extreme conditions and intense pest attacks. Therefore, we want to pilot the SOLJKE project to introduce a model of integrated approach to agriculture, thus improving the effectiveness of agro-technical measures, “explained dr. Podgornik. This means monitoring the five selected farms holistically, from the diseases they face to fertilizing and spraying, and making recommendations based on the findings.

The project was acquired by the Institute of Oliveculture ZRS Koper and the Soline company within the tender of the Istrian LAG. It was financed by the European Union from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Republic of Slovenia within the framework of the rural development program.

40 participants applied for the 5th Table Olive Festival. An eight-member commission evaluated 23 olive samples. According to dr. Vasilij Valenčič from the Institute of Oliveculture ZRS Koper, the number of registered samples was slightly lower than the year before, but on the other hand the increase in quality was noticeable. The Commission assessed the smell, taste and texture and awarded points on the basis of these criteria. Table olives that scored at least 65 of the 90 possible points received quality recognition.

As admitted by dr. Valenčič, the evaluation of table olives is quite demanding and hard work: “We can evaluate fewer samples, because our palates get tired sooner than, for example, when evaluating olive oil. The reason is that the products are salty, so physiological saturation occurs sooner. ” Overall, the quality of the olives, which are mostly from 2019, is good, and the quality is recognizable.

Recognitions and awards were given to the olive growers by the director of ZRS Koper, prof. dr. Rado Pišot and director of Soline d.o.o., Klavdij Godnič. Quality awards were given to Neven Benčič for a Štorta in brine and oil, Emil Nemec for Piccoline in brine and oil, Boris Sabadin from the Bem Organic Farm for a Štorta in oil and Norma Zudich from the Zudich Farm for Piccoline in brine. Martina Veršnik from the Olea Organic Family Farm received two awards for organic table olives Piccoline in extra virgin olive oil and organic table olives with garlic and green pepper. Kristjan Božič received awards for brine starch, oil starch and flavored olive leccino in brandy, with sugar, citrus and spices. As many as seven awards for seven different products were received by Ivan Zadel, namely Ascolana in brine and oil, Istrian white in brine and oil, Leccino in brine and oil, Mata in brine and oil, Štorta in brine and oil, Štorta in oil and Štorta with laurel herb in brine and oil.

The title of a vice champion was awarded to organically grown Ascolana olives in the brine of the Ronkaldo – Adamič Farm. The first vice champion was the Olea Organic Family Farm with organic table olive olives in extra virgin olive oil. The absolute winner was Darko Jakomin from Oljkarstvo Karlonga with Ascolana in brine.

Before and after the awards ceremony, a guided tasting of olive, salt and herb products was held at Lera in the Sečovlje salt pans, led by dr. Vasilij Valenčič and Barbara Morgan from the company Soline salt production.