Thursday, April 17, 2014

Know Your Olive

 The olive tree is one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world.  Before written language existed, the olive tree originated in Asia Minor and spread to Iran, Syria and Palestine onwards throughout the Mediterranean more than 6,000 years ago.  The olive trees on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem are known to be more than 2000 years old.  Today, it’s not uncommon to see olive trees throughout North and South America, Japan, New Zealand and even Australia.  [source.]

Jordan’s Olive Varietals:
Construction and conflict in the Levant have resulted in the destruction of countless olive trees and their abundant life-giving properties.   The good news is that olive tree cultivation has managed to survive as a primary means of economic stability for individual farmers and families in the region.  Hopefully, in due time, the Middle East will be known for its ability to sustain such beautiful, organic life, instead of its destruction. 

There are three major olive “cultivars” in Jordan, the cradle of olive tree cultivation. 

Nabali. One of the oldest olive cultivars in the Middle East originated on the banks of the River Jordan.  It is also the predominant type of olive found in Jordan used as table olives and for oil.  Its sub-category is Nabali Muhasan, both types of olives are strong and take root easily.  The olives are usually plump with a soft texture and have oil content of 28-33%.   

Rasie.  This is an improved cultivar of Nabali used mainly for oil.  Oil content ranges between 15-28% and is known for its mixture of sweet and pungent flavors with a hint of apple.

Souri.  This type is mainly used for oil production and can be cultivated in arid areas and shallow soil.  The oil produced is aromatic with an acidic bite to the throat upon consumption. 

“Sitti” means “Grandmother.” 
Sitti Soap Company originates from the age-old traditions of grandmothers in the Levant who used olives and their oil in…well…everything!  Pickled and marinated on the table for snacking between meals, dribbled over salads, raw vegetables and hummus, or mixed in a marinade of zeit ou zataar for dipping or caking on top of savory pastries.  “All-purpose” is taken to a whole new level with olive oil, with women in the Middle East still using it as a go-to beauty product for hair and skin as well.  (Mixed with lemon juice, it also makes a great all-natural, non-toxic wood furniture cleaning product!)

With the popular advent of holistic living and wellness, olives' and olive oil’s various health benefits have been making the rounds on health sites and food blogs.  However, their origins will always remain in “Sitti’s” household.

 Olive oil brings along with it numerous health benefits, including:

Inflammation-inhibiting antioxidants
Cancer-fighting properties
Lower risk of heart disease
Normalization of blood clots
Benefitting insulin levels and blood sugar control
Moisturizes and nourishes skin!!! 

All Sitti Soap products are produced with locally-sourced Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Jordan.  Follow our blog to continue receiving updates on our products, and information/tips on how olive oil-based soap and other products can help nourish you: mind, body and soul.

To make an order, simply email: 

[photos courtesy of: Jacqueline M. Sofia]

additional sources:

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