parallax background

Monnaber Olive Oil History

According to historical data, the Phoenicians and Greeks introduced olive trees to the Iberian Peninsula and from there they reached Mallorca.

Historical references indicate that, when the Crown of Aragon existed (in the 13th century), oil was exported from Mallorca to Northern Africa together with other agricultural products.

In the mid 15th century Mallorcan oil was a regular, continuous export, particularly from the Port of Soller.

It was in the 16th century that important progress was made in olive growing and oil production, and for many years this was the main source of income for numerous estates on the island included the Finca of monnaber Nou with 32 acres and 1600 trees, many of which had their own olive mills.

Olive growing spread particularly in the northern and southern parts of the Tramuntana mountains (in the north of Mallorca). In the early 16th century, oil tithes (part of the crop) were paid to the king representing 10% of the total yield, a figure that was only surpassed by the tithe on wheat or barley.

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Mallorcan oil played a key role in the island's economy, both as a basic ingredient in the islanders' diet and as a product for trading exchanges and exportation. Mallorcan oil was given in payment for imported products, like wheat, in which it was not self-sufficient.

Mallorcan olive oil continued to be the island's leading export product until the first half of the 19th century, for many years accounting for between 65 and 80% of Mallorca's total exports in monetary terms. In the second half of the 19th century Mallorca continued to export large quantities of Mallorcan oil.

In one of the documents that best reflects customs and life on the island of Mallorca, "Die Baleren in wort und bild geschildert" (1869-1891), written by Archduke Louis Salvator of Austria during his stay on the island in the 19th century, the quality of Mallorcan virgin olive oil is praised for use on salads and for making "pa amb olis" (bread rubbed with tomato and sprinkled with oil), which, according to the Archduke, was one of the island's most popular dishes.

The recognition that the quality of Mallorca's oil had achieved outside the island became evident in the late 19th century, when in Catalonia the second prize at a gastronomic award for quality oils went to a Mallorcan oil produced by one of the island's olive mills.