In the gentle landscapes of the Luberon, olive oil is much more than just an ingredient: it embodies the very essence of this sun-drenched land.
A culinary symbol of the Luberon region, its exceptional flavour blends well with all types of cuisine.
Destination Luberon was lucky enough to meet some of the team at Moulin Boudoire in Mérindol and chat with Théodora. Discover the world of this authentic mill!
The Boudoire mill has been passed down from father to son for 5 generations. Dating back to the 16th century, it is the oldest building in the village of Mérindol. The mill belonged to the lord of the village. Peasants had to bring in their harvests and leave one-sixth of their produce as tax.
A symbol of the revival of Mérindol after the persecution and massacre of the Vaudois in 1545, the mill has retained its authenticity and atypical character, as the olives are still crushed using a stone millstone! So don't hesitate to push open the doors of this mill steeped in history...
"We are one of the few mills to have preserved this ancient tradition. It allows us to manage the ardency of our olive oils better, while still adding a certain smoothness. Today, Yves Boudoire, manager of the oil mill and miller, continues to promote this know-how.
The Boudoire mill has olive trees, but not enough. Olive growers can bring their harvest to the mill.
"We buy olives from producers. Yves Boudoire is used to working with olive growers and is called upon throughout the year to look after certain orchards."
Every year, the mill welcomes nearly a thousand local producers and processes between 150 and 350 tonnes of olives.
"It's vital to look after your olive trees throughout the year. In spring (late February - early March), the olive trees are pruned: this is generally done every other year to remove the 'gourmands' (vertical shoots with smooth bark that can be more than a metre long) and flowering starts at the end of May.
We make a lot of recommendations to our olive growers: for example, to have enough water before flowering to water the olive trees. Water is very important, as is wind. Olive trees need water to grow and produce olives.
As for the wind, it is essential because pollination does not take place through insects, but only through the air. When the mistral makes its appearance, the tree branches mix together and that's when pollination takes place. If there isn't enough mistral, like this year for example, we can use what are known as "leaf blowers". An olive tree rests every other year: it will produce less the following year. In fact, every spring, a pruning demonstration is organised by the Vaucluse olive producers' association.
It's also very important to prevent diseases, like flies for example: they'll bite the olive and let their eggs take everything inside the olive. You have to look after these little trees!
At the Boudoire mill, the varieties used to make our olive oils are Aglandau, Picholine and Salonenque. The olives are picked exclusively by hand in orchards in the Luberon, Alpilles and Alpes de Haute-Provence regions.
The olives are harvested from mid-October to mid-December using electric or hand combs: the branches are combed and the olives fall into nets that are placed under the trees. The mill welcomes local olive growers (owners of olive trees) to press their olives.
Their olives are weighed at the entrance to the mill and they are given a voucher. If they weigh less than 50kg, they are offered the chance to create a common trunk oil, i.e. olives from different producers are mixed together. Above 150kg, they are offered the chance to create their own olive oil. They pay for the process (i.e. the work involved in pressing the oil and the packaging offered at the mill: bottles or cans) and can then take their oil home with them. Visitors can also watch the olive oils being made during this period!
"The mill offers 3 fruités for sale:
the olives are early and harvested in early/mid-October and are still green. What makes it special? The oil is slightly fiery, with a hint of bitterness, so it's sweet on the palate and peppery in the throat. It's ideal with raw vegetables, salads or food that has already been cooked. The fruity green flavour has aromas of leaves, raw artichoke, apple, pear, olive leaf, fresh almond...).
this is the most common type of olive oil; the olives are harvested a little later, so they are more mature. These oils are milder, less bitter and more balanced, and are suitable for all types of cuisine: savoury, sweet, cooked or raw. This is the type of olive oil we usually present at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris, where we have won several medals, including a bronze this year. Ripe fruity has aromas of almonds, yellow or red fruit, flowers, lime blossom and red fruit.
the olives are ripe but not crushed straight away. They are stored at the mill for around ten days in closed paloxes (plastic crates). After 10 days, we start the production process to obtain a very mild oil: it will have a tapenade or black olive flavour. This is what we call matured olive. It's more of an oil for enjoying as an aperitif with croutons, bread, tomatoes or goat's cheese. The old-fashioned taste has aromas of undergrowth, cocoa and ripe to very ripe fruit".
"Once the olives have been harvested, they are weighed and stored in paloxes. Production starts within 48 hours of the olives being brought in, except for batches that are tasted the old-fashioned way. The volume of the Mérindol oil mill is generally between 100,000 kg and 350,000 kg of olives, which will enable us to produce between 40,000 and 60,000 litres of olive oil.
There are several stages in the production process:
The olive oil is now almost ready for consumption and is transported through pipes to the vats.
All that remains is to bottle and label the oils, which will first be checked by ECOCERT (a certification process that assesses a product's compliance with environmental and social requirements specified in specifications), which will classify the olive oil according to its acidity level: extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil (...)".
Whether raw or cooked, olive oil goes perfectly with all your dishes: refined, simple, dietetic or gourmet. Its fruity flavour blends with garlic, basil and Provencal herbs. Very good for your health, it's good for your heart and arteries thanks to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (which increase "good" cholesterol). Rich in vitamin E, it contributes to brain development and combats the ageing of organs and tissues.
As far as storage is concerned, this is the oil that keeps best. To preserve all its characteristics, fruitiness and colour, it must be protected from light and heat (between 15° and 25°) and from the oxygen in the air. In short, olive oil offers unrivalled taste pleasure thanks to its fruity flavour that evokes the delights of Mediterranean cuisine...
"We take great pleasure in welcoming visitors to the Boudoire mill. We're keen to pass on the values and expertise that have been passed down through 5 generations, and our passion for our craft. Visitors can come to the mill free of charge for a guided historical tour and to taste our olive oils.
We're open from 10am to 12.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday, all year round. One of the mill's special features is that it opens its doors to olive crushing (yes, visitors can watch!) from 17 October to 10 December: Monday to Saturday, 8am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 6pm. Sundays 5, 12, 19, 26 November and 3 December from 5pm to 7pm. The mill is open on 1 and 11 November.
You know these delicious oils but you can't come to the mill? Don't worry! You can place an order by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 04 90 72 86 76 (Only cans are sent for security reasons). The mill will be delighted to prepare your order!
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