Any home cook worth their weight in Maldon sea salt knows that quality is everything — especially when it comes to olive oil. We roast our veggies in the stuff, drizzle it on salads and pasta, dip our bread in it, marinate meat in it; we use it to sauté, sizzle and bake. No one knows this better than Citizens of Soil, our latest kitchen obsession and go-to gift idea for tricky-to-buy-for, already-have-one-of-everything mums.
Citizens of Soil is an ethically sourced, single-estate, extra virgin olive oil brand based on the island of Crete. They work on a refill basis to reduce waste, largely with olives grown on the island. First, you order a single bottle of oil (£17.50) which, if you subscribe, you can then top up with a refill pouch (£13.50) that's designed to fit through your letterbox each month. For newbies, there’s a £30 bundle of a bottle and refill pouch to get you started.
Sure, this stuff is far from cheap. So why should you shell out? The taste, for one, is worlds better than the mass-produced supermarket stuff. On its journey from farm to table, supermarket olive oil typically changes hands countless times, meaning local farmers lose out and the taste is diluted. What started out fresh and full of flavour ends up stripped of its local identity.
Compared to supermarket oils, Citizens of Soil’s oil is rich and creamy with a fresh, earthy flavour. In their Greek oil, notes of grass, tomato leaf and avocado come through, finishing with a light, peppery zing. Honestly, it’s good enough to eat straight. Drizzled over fresh pasta and salads, it can turn a simple dish on a drizzly weeknight into a sultry evening escape in the Greek countryside. A great combination to try is orzo pasta, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, Citizens of Soil oil, sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Or go fully Greek and pour it over fruit or ice cream in the summer.
Even better, the brand has dedicated itself to championing female olive oil producers — many of whom, as in other areas of agriculture, typically see their ancestral lands passed on and managed by the men in the family. Their current collaboration is with small-batch, artisan grower Ana Cardoso who is based in the Alto Alentejo wine region of Portugal. Connecting farmer to customer, on the brand's website you can find out all about Ana's family, how she farms, her olive and soil type and when your oil was harvested. Citizens of Soil also donates 1% of every purchase to 1% for the Planet's soil regeneration projects and is currently working with Kiss The Ground and the Sustainable Soils Alliance.
All of this makes Citizens of Soil the perfect indulgent gift for foodies, budding home cooks or anyone who is trying to make their pantry more ethical.
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