Traditional cuisine in Mallorca
Agriculture is a mainstay of the Mallorcan economy, which is particularly dedicated to the central part of Mallorca. Crops such as citrus fruits, almonds and olives, as well as soft fruits like apricots and grapes, have been grown for centuries. Demand for high quality sea salt has also increased in recent years and the salt flats to the south-east of Mallorca produce flavoured salts for a global market.
Virgin olive oil
Olive oil is produced on Mallorca from olive trees that were already cultivated several centuries ago. Over 100,000 litres of oil are produced annually. The age of the trees combined with the Mallorcan landscape and climate produce two types of extra virgin olive oil. The harvest of young green olives produces a fruity olive oil that has a strong, bitter and spicy taste and is yellow-green in colour. Ripe olives produce oils that are almost sweet, have no bitter or spicy aftertaste and are pale yellow in colour.
A total of three olive varieties are used - Mallorcan (mild and sweet), Arbequina (a more raw taste) and Picual (pungent and bitter). The Mallorcan variety is high in oleic acid and unsaturated fatty acids, which can help strengthen bones by stopping calcium loss. Vitamin E is also present in olive oil and can absorb free radicals, which are known for their harmful effects on the human body.
You can buy locally produced olive oils in many shops on Mallorca as well as in the small markets. Genuine local olive oils should be labelled "Oli de Mallorca".
Hand harvested sea salt
In the southeast of Mallorca, in Ses Salines d'es Trenc, in Colonia de Sant Jordi, about 15,000 tonnes of salt are harvested annually.
Man-made salt lakes are created by pumping purified seawater from Es Trenc, where the salt crusts under hot and windy conditions. Some of these crusts are used to make exclusive salt - a growing business as demand for high quality, natural ingredients increases. These crusts are skimmed by hand, dried and prepared for sale.
This salt is known as "Flor de Sal" (sea flower salt) and is no ordinary table salt. It has higher concentrations of magnesium, potassium, calcium and micronutrients, which makes it better for human health. Some of the salt is flavoured - herbal spices like thyme or rosemary and more exotic flavours like orange chilli, hibiscus and truffle are not uncommon.
Sweet oranges from Sóller
Mallorca is covered with citrus plantations, but Sóller is best known for its oranges. They are grown in the 'Valle de los Naranjos', one of the most beautiful landscapes on the island.
Brought to Mallorca by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages, orange-growing boomed around Sóller in the 19th century. The orange harvest is still celebrated every year in June at the 'Fira de la Taronja'.
The main orange varieties grown here are the navel, easy to peel and very good for eating thanks to its fine flesh and sweetness, and the canoneta, excellent for making juice. Bitter oranges, a cross between grapefruit and mandarins, are available until the end of February and are suitable for making bitter orange jam. Lemons and grapefruits are also grown on Mallorca.