Thursday, 31 March 2022

Croatian Souvenirs: 10 Things That Fit in Your Suitcase

31 March 2020 - After wandering the cobblestone streets and soaking up the Mediterranean sun, maybe you’re thinking of picking up something to remember your time here, or to share a part of your travels with loved ones back home. Here are some unique Croatian souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else. And better yet, most of them fit into your carry-on! All the better for those last-minute shopping trips before hopping on your flight home.

Lavender products

Did you know that lavender originated from the Mediterranean before growing in popularity around the world? 50 years ago, Croatian farmers were producing up to 10% of the world’s lavender flowers, before a series of wildfires decimated the industry.

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Visit some of the most gorgeous lavender fields on Hvar, an island in the South of Croatia. (Image: Pexels)

Today, Croatian lavender production is making a comeback. Harvested in the Fall, its calming herbal essence is infused in a variety of products like soaps, lotions, and oils. Pick up a bottle of lavender oil, where just a couple drops in an infuser or laundry, goes a long way.

Istrian truffles

The dark, dense forests in the hinterlands of Istria provide the perfect breeding ground for Croatian truffles. So much so that in 1999, Giancarlo Zigante, a local truffle hunter found the largest truffle in the world at the time, weighing 2.86 pounds (1.29 kgs). He later had the “millennium” truffle cast in bronze before selling it at a whopping USD$330,000 at an auction.

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Prices of whole Istrian truffles can start at €50 for the more common autumn truffle and €200 for the rare white truffle. (Image: Pexels)

If you can, purchasing a whole truffle allows you to savor its intense, earthy aroma, when freshly shaved over dishes like pasta or eggs. You can also find truffle infused oils, cheeses, chips and even chocolate (it’s tasty!), guaranteed to please any foodie.

Olive oil

Unlike other countries in the Mediterranean such as Italy and Greece, Croatian olive oil can be difficult to find as export levels have yet to reach their counterparts. While Istria produces the largest proportion of Croatian olive oil (10%), other varieties of olives are also grown on the Dalmatian coast which produces different types of oil. So grab a bottle of these award-winning oils on your next visit here.

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Olive oil from Istria was considered the "gold standard" of oils during Roman times. (Image: Pexels)

Wine

Like olive oil, Croatian wine can be quite difficult to find outside the country. Thankfully, this trend is slowly changing with small, independent producers competing in the global wine market, and gaining recognition for its outstanding quality.


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Try ordering "table wine" or "stolno vino" at Croatian restaurants, you'd be surprised how delightful they are. (Image: Pexels)

Croatian wine producers are equally adept at producing rich, fruity white wines such as Graševina, Pošip, and Malvazija, and luscious reds like Teran, Plavac Mali, and Zinfandel. Regardless of your preference, buy a bottle or two for your next dinner party back home.

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(Croatian vineyard along the Dalmatian coast. Image: Author's own)

Preserved fruit

Whether it’s at the store or the local market, you’ll always be able to find preserved fruit either whole or in jams, on sale throughout the year in Croatia. Popular local jam flavors include fig (a personal favorite), plum, cherry, and tangerine.

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Homemade jam at a farmer's market. (Image: Pexels)

Alternatively, dried fruit and fruit peels also make delicious gifts. In the South of Croatia, you can often find packets of candied orange (arancini) and lemon (limuncini) peels, alongside dried fruits such as figs and apricots. Ideal as a snack on its own or added to baked goods.

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 Dried figs are the perfect snack. (Image: Pexels)

Cravat

Once known as the Croat, the Cravat is the precursor to the modern-day tie and in fact, originates from these very shores. Historically, it was worn by Croatian soldiers to identify themselves due to the lack of military uniforms during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Its proliferation beyond the battlefield occurred when French soldiers took a liking to the rudimentary neckties worn by a regiment of Croatian troops stationed in France.

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October 18 is Cravat Day, with the red cravat being the most traditional color. (Image: Pexels)

It wasn’t long before the trend spread throughout Europe and even took hold in America where the style is known as the ‘Ascot’. 

Croatian lace products

Lacemaking has been a Croatian tradition dating back to the Renaissance (14th - 17th century). Since 2009, Croatian lace craft has been recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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Delicate Pag lace doilies. (Image: Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com)

Three distinct traditions of lacemaking are still alive today, in the towns of Pag, Lepoglava, and Hvar, each with its own unique patterns and production methods. To purchase some of these keepsakes, lookout for gift stores or specialty shops selling lace tea cloths, place mats, or ornaments.

Rakija

Rakija is a fruit brandy considered the national drink of Slavic people across Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia. Rakija has an alcohol content between 40-50% but can go up to 60% with a double distilling method that produces Prepečenica.

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Different types of rakija distilled from different fruits. (Image: OPG Jukica/Facebook screenshot)

The most popular flavor in Croatia is plum, but rakija is also distilled from apricot, grapes, apples, pears, and quince. You can also find rakija infused with various herbs and spices such as juniper and carob for added complexity.

Gingerbread

Another Croatian craft on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List is gingerbread making. Gingerbread craft ship is common in the Northern areas of Croatia and remains a part of local festivities, events, and gatherings. Each craftsperson has their own unique way of decorating gingerbread, often icing each piece with names, verses, messages, or pictures. 

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Lucitar hearts ornaments in Zagreb. (Image: Croatia Full of Life/Twitter screenshot)

In Zagreb, the gingerbread heart (Licitar heart) is the most common motif. You can find stores that offer personalization services, making them ideal Croatian souvenirs or gifts for loved ones.

Salt

Salt pans in the towns of Ston, Pag, and Nin have been in use as far back as Roman times, producing some of the finest sea salt in the world thanks to their ideal geographical positioning. Salt is produced from April to October, with each production cycle lasting 1-2 months. Ston Saltworks, the oldest salt production facility in Europe, can produce 500 tons of salt annually from just 9 crystallization pools.

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Crunchy flakes of Croatian salt make a great addition to any kitchen. (Image: Pexels)

Considering its affordability and prevalence of salt in everyday meals, consider picking up a bag of local salt the next time you pass through.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Inflation to Push Much Loved Croatian Olive Oil Prices Up

March the 28th, 2022 - Inflation is ongoing as the situation in Ukraine following Russian invasion last month continues to escalate. The prices of just about everything imaginable have soared recently, with fuel continuing to be a big issue. Croatian olive oil prices look set to rise, as well.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the country's many olive growers are currently facing quite serious issues as the artificial fertilisers they typically use have become drastically more expensive as inflation continues.

''We've already done the winter fertilisation, and now we're waiting for the rain to start coming before we deal with the spring fertilisation combined with artificial and manure fertilisers,'' explained one of the largest northern Istrian olive growers, Drazen Cernek from Brnozi near Sovinjak, adding that fertiliser prices have skyrocketed. Last year, one tonne stood at around 3,000 kuna, and this year it is a significantly higher 8,000 kuna.

There are olive growers who, owing to that, won't even bother to use artificial fertilisers this year, the prices of which are obviously rising sharply, among other things due to the increase in the price of natural gas, key raw materials. Instead, they'll take their chances and leave everything to "nature".

However, those who are professional olive growers cannot afford to do that, because the proper spring fertilisation of their olives as well as keeping hold of their long-term olive groves is a prerequisite for increasing their yield and fruit quality for the countless Croatian olive oil lovers who make purchases from across the world.

The increase in the price of artificial fertiliser will not only affect the country's olive growers themselves, but also all other producers of agricultural products from cereals to potatoes and vegetables, local portal Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria writes.

The growth of all inputs typically purchased by the nation's many agricultural producers is so great, according to the county head of agriculture, Ezio Pinzan, that only those agricultural producers who have very well-organised production and business operations from start to finish will be able to continue to do business. It will be very difficult for others who don't have the opportunity to really market their Croatian olive oil, which means that they don't have already branded products and customers, ie they cannot achieve a slightly better price.

Not only have fertiliser prices risen due to higher gas prices, but blue diesel has also risen in price, as has electricity.

''Last year, due to the lower yield of olives, the question was whether the price of extra virgin Croatian olive oil would increase, and it was then said that it probably wouldn't, and it didn't. Because, farmers know, one year the yield is a little higher, one year it's a bit lower, and they didn't want to lose any customers by raising their prices. However, I think they will now be forced to do precisely that because these price increases will affect all agricultural products, and olive growing isn't immune to that either.

We hope that there will be a good production year, that there will be fruit, that there will be Croatian olive oil to be had and purchased, we know that it will be of top quality, but the production price of that olive oil will certainly increase the final price for consumers. Now is the opportunity for as many of our agricultural producers as possible to turn to organic farming and to use as few fertilisers as possible,'' Pinzan concluded.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Why Doesn't Hvar Olive Oil Have the Origin Label Yet?

March 8, 2022 - In recent days it has been said that many islands have already received designations of origin or geographical origin for their olive oils, but Hvar olive oil has not yet. Why? And why is it important to have this label?

Olive oils from Cres, Krka, Korčula, Šolta, and most recently Brač are mentioned, while the people of Hvar are currently proud of their multi-millennium oil production, which has been used as food, medicine, and light on their island for a long time, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

Today, according to the agricultural advisor mr. sc. Stanislav Štambuk, this island area cultivates more than 250,000 olive trees. Farmers have made good progress in terms of proper implementation of agro-technical measures, fruit picking and processing, and oil storage. There are several modern oil mills, so extra virgin olive oils are most often produced.

This is sufficiently evidenced by the numerous recognitions of Hvar olive growers and oil mills won in the country and abroad (USA, Japan...), it is surprising that an island of less than 300 square kilometers has as many as six protected values ​​on the UNESCO List of Tangible and Intangible Heritage (Faro Choir, agave lace, procession 'Za Krizen', klapa song, Mediterranean food, and the art of drywall construction), but no indication of origin or geographical origin among 33 Croatian agricultural and food products registered with the European Union.

Slobodna Dalmacija decided to check what the problem is, especially because these labels are on the one hand a valorization of achievements so far and on the other an incentive to follow the path of progress and better quality even more decisively.

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Olives from Hvar (Photo: Mario Romulić)

''There has been talking for a long time on Hvar about initiating this procedure, however, the initiative was somewhat more seriously concretized at the end of 2019 with representatives of the Association of Olive Growers St. Spirijun in Milna. Since then, several enthusiasts have been working continuously to gather the necessary arguments, such as historical evidence, data on varieties, geo-climatic conditions, traditions, processing, use of names and labels, invoices, delivery notes, media articles ..., and when all this is completed we could at least go for a geographical indication because the differences between the designations are small anyway, and the benefits are almost the same'', said prof. dr. sc. Ivica Ljubenkov, an expert who also helped the people of Brač in their candidacy for the origin label.

A tradition dating back to the ancient greeks

One of the problems, as been found out, is that on Hvar, which is famous as the sunniest island (more than 2,700 hours of sunshine a year), there is not a single well-known indigenous olive variety, such as people from Šolta have Levantine, or people from Korčula have Lastovka.

And the candidacy for the label of origin is somehow the easiest to 'wrap in cellophane' of these original varieties, the logic of the European Union is not always in line with the thinking of our people.

Also, it must be added, that despite the declarative desire, the road to acquiring the label is long and difficult, in part due to the low involvement of some olive growers and members of the association.

''We are really proud that in the upper part we have evidence of olive growing and olive oil production from the time of the ancient Greeks. This fact is confirmed by an olive tree from the Kuharača site near Zastražišće. The ancient olive tree is truly a natural rarity and a kind of cultural monument. Evidence of olive processing also exists at the Kupinovik site near the Old Town - Faros, next to the old Roman villa rusticae. There are important artifacts such as two olive presses, a mill with a millstone, several basins for sedimentation, several oysters for storing oil... Numerous remains of architecture testify to multiple alterations, which means that the villa functioned for a longer period of 1 to the 4th century'', says the young, but multi-award-winning olive grower Eva Marija Čurin from Gdynia.

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Olives from Hvar (Photo: Mario Romulić)

She is also the secretary of the association, which has more than 150 members and is actively involved in the process of obtaining the label. She adds that the "Days of Olive Oil Days of the Island of Hvar" event in Jelsa is organized every year, with the aim of encouraging olive growers to socialize, have a healthy competitive spirit, educate and, above all, increase the quality of Hvar olive oil.

Therefore, the goal is to contribute to the development of olive growing on the island of Hvar, to gain in importance both locally and internationally.

However, the association will not achieve this without its members, so the event was launched to educate these valuable olive growers about the benefits of the label and to encourage them to be more involved in collecting materials needed to obtain it.

''If we recapitulate everything that Professor Ljubenkov and our Eva Marija told us, I would like to tell the membership that, in addition to the objective benefits we would get from labels, they also protect the consumer himself, as the end-user of Hvar olive oil. The labels certainly bring protection against unauthorized use and damage to the reputation of oil that would be produced on Hvar according to pre-established rules. In this way, the consumer would have a guarantee that it is an oil that is recognized and protected specialty of the area from which it originates, and we are aware of the quality we have can only say that this label will be only the first step in further promotion of Hvar olive oil, the island where we live and produce'', concluded Đorđan Gurdulić, president of the Association of Olive Growers "St. Špirijun" from Hvar.

When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian and Hvar olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

For more on Croatian products, producers, companies and exports, make sure to check out Made in Croatia.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Istrian Olive Grower Loses Land Bid as Ministry of Agriculture Backtracks on Tender Specifications

March 3rd, 2022 - Sandi Chiavalon, one of Croatia’s leading olive oil producers, was looking to invest around seven million kuna into a new olive grove in Istria.

Renowned olive grower Sandi Chiavalon was planning to lease 30 hectares of land in the Vodnjan area, close to another large olive grove owned by Oio Vivo, where he would plant nearly 10,000 olive trees and hire four new workers to manage the operation.

As reported by Glas Istre/Bojan Žižović, his plans fell through. In a strange turn of events, the Ministry of Agriculture didn’t approve the decision of the City of Vodnjan to lease state-owned land to Chiavalon, whose oil is produced in Vodnjan and exported to 23 countries worldwide.

This is a major agricultural project which, according to Chiavalon, would be beneficial for the wider community, including the national and city budgets. The state, however, says that Chiavalon and other local farmers cannot lease more than ten hectares of state land at once, as stipulated by the City of Vodnjan.

The decision of the state comes off as petty, as consent could have clearly been given in this case. As Chiavalon explained, the City’s land management plan indeed states that up to ten hectares of land can be leased to one party, but exceptions are allowed as long as it’s a single plot - as is the case here. The land in question is a single plot of about 70 hectares, divided by the City into six agricultural units of which Chiavalon was looking to lease three.

In the tender, whose content was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, it was stated that whoever applies for one plot can lease up to 40 hectares of land on the said plot. Now that the tender is closed, the Ministry changed the tune and said that a maximum of ten hectares can be leased on the plot in question. As things stand, Chiavalon’s choices are to either lease only ten hectares or abandon the project entirely.

‘They called us from the City to have us choose which of those three plots of ten hectares we would lease. That doesn’t come close to what I wanted to do here - introduce an automated system, a completely new technology for grove maintenance… The question is whether we will take those ten hectares at all, we have to make an economic analysis of whether it’d be profitable to do it all on a land of that size. There are various systems in olive growing nowadays; intensive groves are robotically managed and processed. But for something like that we’d need a single large plot of land. We currently own 68 plots at 12 different locations. In those conditions, you can engage in organic olive growing only conventionally. When you have a single block of land, so to speak, such as Oio Vivo, only then can you introduce modern automated systems’, said Chiavalon.

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Asked whether there was a chance of him leasing more than ten hectares in this area in the future, Chiavalon said he might if a new tender was announced. ‘As we had to drop out, some other people would probably apply to get the land. However, the question is who can make it operational because it’s a considerable investment’, said Chiavalon.

The olive grower from Vodnjan would have doubled the count of his olive trees if he got the lease he was going after. He currently owns 30 hectares of land, but as mentioned above, split between 12 different locations, which results in production costs 20 to 30 percent higher than if he were to cultivate a single parcel of that size.

He says there’s always the option to increase their output by purchasing produce from other farmers, but they want to grow as much of their own produce as possible.

Asked who was to blame for what happened, Chiavalon said the problem might lie in the lack of communication between the Ministry and the City of Vodnjan. ‘But the City did not come up with the tender out of thin air, it had to do so with the consent of the Ministry, whose clerk then said it wasn’t implemented well. If it had come to another clerk, it would have probably passed.’

He also pointed out that the laws concerning agricultural land keep changing and aren’t implemented efficiently. ‘This tender was announced a year and a half ago and was not completed in that time. In the meantime, the plot could have been cleared and a new grove planted. In 20 years, there were only three tenders for the lease of state-owned agricultural land, which is a disaster’, he said, adding that at least one tender should be announced every year given how much uncultivated land there is in the area. ‘There are more than 3,000 hectares of uncultivated land in Vodnjan. There’s plenty of land for everyone who wants to work in agriculture. You just need to have the resolve’, said Chiavalon.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Olive Oil from Brač Island Registered with Protected Designation

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2022 - "Bračko maslinovo ulje" has been entered in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications, which makes it the 33rd Croatian food product to be entered in the register, the Ministry of Agriculture reported on Monday.

The European Commission published its decision in the EU Official Journal of 31 January, noting that 'Bračko maslinovo ulje' has been entered in the register.

Bračko maslinovo ulje is an extra virgin olive oil obtained exclusively using mechanical processes, with at least 80% of the product being made of the "oblica" variety of olives.

This olive oil can be produced only on Brač Island. Olive growing has become a symbol of the island and its most common variety is the "oblica" or "Brač" olive, which is registered in the world catalogue of olive varieties, the ministry reported.

Croatia now has 33 agricultural and food products registered in the European Union as a protected designation of origin or protected geographical indication.

Friday, 31 December 2021

Croatian Brist Olive: Vodnjan Family Business Sees Oil Shipped to USA

December the 31st, 2021 - The Croatian Brist Olive oils, made by a family business located in Vodnjan in Istria, have made their way across the pond to the United States of America, placing Croatian products firmly on the radar there once again.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, one family business from Vodnjan is busy diversifying all of its activities, but the basis of everything they engage in is authentic products which are then exported to a number of countries across the globe. On the eve of the festive period at Br00m44 on Zagreb's famous Dolac market, a presentation of extra virgin olive oils of the new vintage Brist Olive brand from Vodnjan was held.

Lena Puhar O’Grady, who leads the presentations, education and marketing on Brist’s team, presented her family business, told the story of their brand development and guided guests through three of the six types of Brist Olive oil they currently produce. One monosort was tasted - Vodnjanska Buza oil, as well as two blends.

“Our olive grove is located in the vicinity of Vodnjan, it's beautifully positioned, overlooking the Brijuni islands and spreads over nine hectares where 2,500 olive trees grow, mostly indigenous Istrian varieties. We produce about 8,000 litres of oil per year, with the expectation of growth when all of the olives grow well and come to fruition,'' said Puhar O’Grady.

Demand is growing...

Each of their Brist Olive oils was then paired with a type of cheese from the Istrian Mljekara Latus from Zminj, with sourdough foccaccia from the Zagreb bakery Breadclub, and the tasting was then rounded off with a chocolate tart with olive oil, designed especially for the occasion by food blogger Janja Benic. The chocolate tart was served with a few drops of Brist’s Exclusive Selection olive oil, and as Puhar O’Grady explained, this is a form of olive oil made in a limited edition from selected olives from century-old buza and rozinjola trees.

As she claimed, the Brist Olive oil team process their olives in the Grubic oil mill in nearby Bale, with which they have a long-term cooperation, and their main customers are individuals, mostly foreign citizens paying visits to Istria. They realise their biggest sales directly in their store in the old town of Vodnjan and through online sales.

"Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, our online sales have quadrupled since before. A large part of our clients come after participating in our guided tours and tastings in the olive grove,'' she said.

In addition, Brist Olive oil is exported through 20 international partners within the EU, Norway and Switzerland, and from this year for the very first time to America. They also cooperate with specialised stores, mainly in Istria and Zagreb, as well as restaurants throughout Croatia and the Milenij Hotel chain in Opatija.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Olive Picking Experience in Podstrana: A Short and Visual Story

October 22, 2021 - After patiently waiting a year for the next olive picking season, I encouraged myself to take a closer look at this tradition. The result? A beautiful day, a great experience, thousands of olives, new friends, and many, many photos!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a reflection as a result of the two years since I arrived in Croatia. In it, not only did I want to share several anecdotes about that time, but I felt encouraged to list ten reasons why I believed that it could be easy for someone to adapt their lives here in Croatia, based on my own experience. If I could be able to summarize that article in a few words, I think I could do so by saying that Croatia is a country that successfully manages to harmoniously combine heritage, ruralism, and ancient traditions, with development, urbanism, and Western influence. It is a country where you can walk the elegant streets of Ilica in Zagreb or Marmontova in Split, as well as visit the fields of Slavonia or the vineyards of Istria, and not feel any kind of barriers or class gaps. It is, in short, a country for everyone.

There are many ways to prove to yourself that you have managed to adapt effectively to a new country: learning the language, making new friends, finding a job, buying a house, learning how to prepare a local dish, and more. But I feel that I personally cannot feel fully integrated in Croatia if I do not follow closely the activities and traditions that its people have carried out for hundreds of years. The great thing about Croatia is that there is a peaceful coexistence between these traditions and their respective industries (and in some cases, it can be exclusive to home production). In my country, on the other hand, many of these traditional activities are being displaced by large industries, such as consumer fishing, wine, or agriculture. However, it is not my intention to delve into a very complex topic that may require me to know about topics that I still need to learn more about. What I want to say is that in Croatia I find it very difficult for an activity inherited by generations to be interrupted by a dominance of the industrial sector, but rather that people can continue making their rakija, their wines, their olive oil, their harvests, and their fishing, with an authentic feeling of belonging and, at the same time, feeling fairly rewarded for their effort, as people here value highly their local and home-made products.

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Olive oil, in particular, has always been one of the cornerstones in our kitchen at home, where my parents have always done wonders with its help. We were glad to know, when we moved, that in Croatia it was equal or even more important in their diet than in ours. It took us little time to recognize the high quality of Croatian olive oil. However, I was sad that after two years in Croatia and consuming its world-renowned olive oil, I felt so distant from the enormous process behind its production. I knew absolutely nothing about how olive oil is made, or about olive trees, or about olives. Nothing at all.

In Podstrana, where I live, I find myself surrounded by small fields of cultivation of apples, lemons, watermelons, cabbages, as well as olive trees. Throughout last year, especially at the end of the summer, I have noticed different people who come to take care of their crops, but few or no people in the olive trees. It was in October-November of 2020 that I saw people pick olives for the first time, and that's when I discovered that it was in fact the season. I felt like I had missed a huge opportunity (laziness and shyness won me over, not gonna lie) to get closer and learn more about olive picking. I decided that in the following season I would learn more about this tradition.

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I patiently waited this year for October to arrive, and a few days ago I saw that they were picking olives in the distance. This time I did not hesitate, I took my camera and walked over to where they were. It was there that I met one of the kindest families from Podstrana. From the moment I introduced myself, I had never felt so well received by strangers, and they did not hesitate for a second to allow me to accompany them and document their work. For me, it was a great relief, since at some point I overthought that they would feel invaded by my presence both on their property, and in a time where they can share their privacy in a traditional family activity. But they didn't bother, and I think they were not only impressed and glad to hear me speak Croatian, but they may have been happy to see someone genuinely interested in learning more about olive picking.

The father, Jozo, dedicated almost three hours to telling me everything about his olive trees and olive oil, while he collected olives along with his wife and son. Jozo and his son Ivo educated me on the technique used to carefully extract olives from the trees, using a small plastic rake to ''brush'' the branches full of olives, as well as the high quality of these olives, called ''Levantin'', for the subsequent oil production process that would come later. The weather was perfect, as it felt like a summer day infiltrated in the fall, with a radiant sun that did not burn your skin. Still, the shadow of a twenty-year-old olive tree protected us. All you could hear was Jozo's endless but nourishing olive lessons, as well as these constantly falling like rain from the tree over the blue plastic carpet.

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After three hours of a lot of learning and thousands of olives scattered on the ground, it was time to go and it was time for the family to collect all the olives in bags. It was a very fruitful afternoon for everyone, as I returned home with much more knowledge about olive picking as well as numerous photos and videos, and they returned home with almost 150 kilos of olives, from a single tree! According to Jozo himself, this particular year had been a very good one for his olive trees, and the gentle climate was key for them to produce so many olives.

Before I left, I exchanged phone numbers with Ivo, and it was there that I passed them the photos I had taken and, soon, a small short film that I will prepare about this particular experience of olive picking. They also promised me a bottle of their olive oil, which I look forward to trying soon.

It has been one of those (few) days and anecdotes in which I return home with a real smile, and that reminds me of how right my decision to come to Croatia was, and how close I am to being able to adapt to this beautiful country. If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I will not be able to die in peace without at least one olive tree in my future home!

Here are some pictures I took from this wonderful day of olive picking in Podstrana:

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When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

For more news like this, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Vodnjan Oil Mill Opens Most Modern Oil Mill in Croatia

October 17, 2021 - Heritage, tradition, and expertise continue to form the core of the Vodnjan oil mill, which has been renovated and equipped with the latest technology and is entirely digitized with the most sophisticated software to control olive oil production. 

When you mention olives and oil processing, it's not hard to think of Vodnjan, the first association with the oldest oil mill in Istria and Kvarner, reports Glas Istre.

Located in the heart of the city in Trgovačka Street, the Vodnjan Oil Mill has been dictating the latest trends in olive growing for many years. In addition to continuous investments in improving all technological processes to make the oil top quality after processing, they have always been guided by the idea that history and experience are their greatest value. As a result, the entire Vodnjan region is an inexhaustible nursery for hardworking farmers, and Vodnjan has established itself as a leader in olive growing in this part of Europe.

A significant contribution to the development of olive growing in southern Istria was created at the Vodnjan Oil Mill, where olives have been processed without interruption since 1911. As a result, the oil mill has become a recognizable symbol of olive growing in the Vodnjan region and the entire Istrian area. All this time, in collaboration with the local community and olive growers, they have successfully built the story of the best extra virgin olive oil in the world. Given that the oil mill building, which dates from the 19th century, has been located in the same place for 136 years, they are the pioneers of olive growing in Istria. At this plant, oil was obtained in the past by using stone mills and presses, and some of them, as witnesses of the time, are still exhibited today as valuable in the area of Vodnjan.

"This season, we have decided on a significant business step forward, certainly the biggest in the history of the oil mill. With the latest investments and the purchase of the most modern technology and machinery from the latest production series of the world-famous machine manufacturer in the oil mill Pieralisi, we have achieved what we have been striving for all along. Heritage, tradition, expertise continue to form the core of our plant, which has been renovated and equipped with the latest technology and has been fully digitized with the most sophisticated software to control the processing process," said the Vodnjan Oil Mill.

"In its long history, the oil mill has always kept pace with technological achievements in olive growing. The latest investment in mechanization ranks us among the most modern oil mills in Croatia. We have always wanted to be one step ahead, and we are glad to be recognized as leaders in olive growing in this part of Istria. In the last few months, the building, which has been in the same place since 1885, has undergone a complete renovation. At more than 460 square meters, the entire interior of the plant shone in a new guise, and the exterior of the building was renovated with strict protection and conservation. Since the Vodnjan Oil Mill is under the protection of the Ministry of Culture and, as such, is on the List of Industrial Heritage of the Republic of Croatia, it was a great challenge to implement valuable technological equipment that accelerates the process of accepting olives to the highest environmental standards.

After several months of intensive work on adapting the exterior and interior of the building, with which we hired about 20 local companies, Vodnjan has taken on a new, more modern look. Our goal was to keep the identity of the oldest olive processing plant on the Peninsula, and at the same time, modernize the plant and offer our customers recognizability. As a result, we managed to get a combination of a modern building with the most modern plant in the production of olive oil.

We are welcoming this year's harvest season equipped with entirely new Molinova olive processing machines from the Italian manufacturer Pieralisi, whose capacity is twice as large as before. These are the most modern mixers for receiving 800 liters of oil. The heart of our plant is the latest cry of technology in olive growing - a new centrifuge, or decanter from the latest Scorpion series - which makes us one of the latest technological generations of oil mills in Istria and Croatia. In the Scorpion decanter, the processing is carried out in two phases, without the addition of water. After each processing, the system is digitized so that the devices and separators are automatically washed so that each new batch of olives comes in thoroughly cleaned processing devices. This is extremely important for olive growers engaged in organic production, and they need to know with certainty that their olives do not mix with others.

The oil mill also has a new digital control to work their oil with the most modern separator or filter. This season we are entering with a significant increase in capacity of as much as 40 percent, so our plant can process about 4 thousand kilograms of olives in just one hour, which will ultimately contribute to increasing the total annual processing from our olive groves in Barbariga and Fazana, which so far amounted to about 1,200 tons per year,"  they added.

Also, increasing the capacity enables the processing of a larger quantity of olives in a shorter period to process as many olives as possible in the top season. But the most important thing is that the quality of the oil is even better.

"We also accelerated the acceptance of olives to enable our olive growers to get oil in the shortest possible time. The novelty is that we will distribute olive storage boxes to all olive growers at the very entrance to speed up processing even more and avoid waiting. The daily harvest of olives must go to the processing as soon as possible. The new investment will undoubtedly be suitable for all our customers who gravitate to the oil mill.

The oil mill is equipped with modern mixers with all the equipment for measuring temperature, mixing time, and lighting and a novelty is the so-called "deferrer" that removes leaves from olive fruits. As a result, the olives come into operation already practically cleaned, which makes the quality of the oil much better. The entire oil mill is digitized and has centralized control with on-screen control. So, everything that happens in the plant itself is displayed on the monitor, and our employees have control and display at all times which machines and how they perform processing. Of course, no computer can replace a human, so our employees decide when is the right time to put it in the centrifuge, for which they are professionally trained. The plant's central location is the olive grinding mill, which has been improved for organic production, and the novelty is the possibility of rinsing the inside of the mill and cooling. 

In addition to new technology and the most modern decanter, the novelty is the control of the process at each stage of processing, which is especially important in producing extra virgin olive oil where the temperature is one of the most important criteria. Using new machines, the Vodnjan Oil Mill now has the possibility of cooling in the mill and temperature control of each individual mixer and access to each individual client and batch of olives.

"The reasons for this investment were primarily to increase the capacity and adjust the production process in the direction we chose. This direction is based on thinking that our oil mill will be a plant where we produce our olive oil and create our recognizable brands. A significant investment is also a completely new oil storage warehouse. All tanks are extra polished to maintain maximum oil purity, and each barrel is protected by inert nitrogen gas to keep the oil in the barrels in the best possible way.

We take care of the environment and take care of all environmental processes within the plant. We have installed a new wastewater treatment system, which means our production process achieves the highest environmental standards. The Vodnjan oil mill is more than olive growing because, over time, it has positioned itself as a central place where olives are brought for processing by olive growers from all over southern Istria, they have trusted us for years, and we try to justify it. Harvest time is a special event for the entire Vodnjan region. As leaders and pioneers in the development of olive growing, we are proud of the new, but the oldest oil mill, which these days began processing in the old town of Vodnjan," the concluded. 

The oil mill building was built in 1885, and the processing was done by hand, in the traditional way practiced by the ancient Greeks. In 1911, the first adaptation of the oil mill took place, and then, for the first time, hydraulic machines for olive processing were introduced. In the 1930s, the oil mill went into its first expansion in Italy and was equipped with the then-latest processing machines. Since 1976, new technologies have been introduced, and cooperation has been started with the world's leading machine manufacturer - the Italian company Pieralisi - with which Vodnjan has been cooperating to this day. In the early '90s, the oil mill switched to the cold pressing process. In the last twenty years, the oil mill has been equipped with the latest technology several times, thus continuously following the latest trends in modern technology in olive growing.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

 

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Croatian Olive Growers Win Medals in New York, 2000 Kuna Customs Fee Awaits

July the 1st, 2021 - Croatian olive growers and their produce are praised worldwide and are no stranger to a medal or ten. After recently winning yet more recognition and awards in New York, now around 2000 kuna in customs fees need to be paid in order for them to enter Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian olive growers have been wildly successful with their produce, and nobody in Croatia really seems to care all that much about the level of promotion this provides the country that relies so heavily on foreign visitors. A little over one month ago, on the world's largest stage, NYIOOC 2021 in New York, Croatian olive growers "picked up" medals by winning 4th place, just behind the likes of Spain, Italy and Greece.

Nobody can stop writing about them - how could they not when a small country like Croatia participating in the world's production of olive oil with only 0.3 percent, takes the top place in terms of oil quality, reports agroklub.

"It happened because Dalmatians joined the Istrian olive growers in this great competition. The Istrians have confirmed their reputation, and the Dalmatians have proven that they have quality to offer as well,'' commented Dr. Ivica Vlatkovic, who once again won gold medals. Croatian olive growers won 66 gold and 20 silver medals in total.

The typically Croatian and utterly absurd customs clearance charges...

Aware of the fact that by participating in a kind of world championship and receiving the highest awards, they have contributed to Croatia entering the very top of the world in the quality of olive oils, they expect (greater) understanding from the state authorities. Unfortunately, the state authorities in Croatia aren't well known for their understanding, or much else in that regard.

Because, as Zlatko Buric said, the man who united the Solta olive growers and together with them managed to protect the Golden Solta oil at the European Union level, unfortunately there isn't much that can make Croatia an economically successful country. ''We've once again proved that we are at the bottom in terms of organisation,'' reported the aforementioned portal.

"Instead of the Prime Minister or the President contacting us and publicly praising us, giving us some sort of reward for our great success, they want to be parasitic by collecting customs duties on trophies which have been properly obtained and are well-deserved," said Buric and other Croatian olive oil producers and growers.

For each statuette and medal, if something doesn't change in the meantime, almost 2,000 kuna will need to be paid. Olive growers are afraid that they will have to pay VAT, so now they are trying everything in order to be able to prove the meaninglessness and even the illegality of this levy individually with some sort of joint action. Some have already contacted Minister Marija Vuckovic, who "called customs and promised that everything would be settled'', but we're yet to see if that occurs.

For more, follow our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

House of Istrian Olive Oil Has Been Reopened in Pula With New Address

July 1, 2021 - The House of Istrian Olive Oil now has a new address in Pula and its doors are once again open to all lovers of not only olive oil but, in particular, Istrian oil, which is considered one of the best in the world.

After a challenging year, the House of Istrian Olive Oil moved and continued to work in a new space in Istarska 30, only fifty meters from the Pula amphitheater, reports HrTurizam.hr. All fans of the history of olive growing and top Istrian olive oils, both domestic and foreign guests, will be able to continue to enjoy a unique cultural and tourist product.

house-of-istrian-olive-oil.jpg

As the initiator of the project and the owner of the House of Istrian Olive Oil Lorena Boljunčić explained, the concept of the House of Oil remains the same, but the new space gives it greater opportunities and new dynamics.

“The museum part has been expanded to include a number of interesting facts from the history of Istrian olive growing from the Roman period to the present day: how the Romans produced olive oil, where it was exported, how oil refining has changed over the centuries and a number of important facts about modern olive oil production. Through educational guided tastings, visitors can learn how to recognize quality extra virgin olive oils, to which aromas and flavors you should pay attention and taste different varietal oils from various Istrian producers. The entire space covers 560 square meters," said Boljuncic.

Let us remind you, the House of Istrian Olive Oil was opened in 2017 in Pula. Through many years of work, an innovative cultural and tourist product has been created to promote a part of the Istrian culture: top Istrian oils with international awards as well as other valuable and Istrian products. Wanting to be a responsible member of the local community, the Oil House has participated in many events in the Istrian County, and more than 25,000 foreign guests from all continents and over 50 countries have passed through the museum and education/tasting.

The House of Istrian Olive Oil has entered the renowned tourist guides and has won awards and recognitions. Thus, in 2017, it received the Golden Goat Award of the Istria County Tourist Board, and a year later the Council of Europe received the House of Oil in the European organization of Cultural Routes with an emphasis on the route "Olive Routes".

Also in 2019, the House received the international BIG SEE award for interior design for public use and was nominated for the best Slavic museum Živa award.

For more information about the museum and guiding packages prices, be sure to check their website.

When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

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