Our Palestinian extra virgin olive oil is bottled in a FSSC 22000 certified facility in Ramallah especially for Moon Valley, while the olives are grown and pressed by various cooperatives in the northern West Bank. Each year our team seeks out the highest expert rated Palestinian olive oils to offer our customers. Previously having sourced from cooperatives in both Kufr Kadoum and Maythaloun (near Nablus & Jenin respectively), this year’s Moon Valley extra virgin olive oil was produced near a town called “Assira el Shamaliya” which roughly translates to “Juice of the North”. The name is highly appropriate given that the hills of the northern West Bank are covered with ancient olive groves, many dating back to the roman times, and they produce an olive oil revered by locals and visitors alike.
How is it made?
Most Palestinian olive oil is produced from the local ‘nabali’ olive variety, some of which fall into the category locally known ‘Rumi’ (Roman) trees that have been there for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years. Olive farming and production of olive oil has been central to these communities’ livelihoods for centuries. The olive harvest is the highlight of their year and prompts much local celebration. Harvested from mid-September to early November, the olives are all hand-picked to avoid damage to the fruit. Their policy of ensuring that all of their olives are sent to the mill the same day as they are harvested helps to ensure that they obtain the best possible quality olive oil. In every cooperative that Moon Valley deals with, thorough testing and tasting procedures are undertaken every season.
The olive growing cooperative
The Assira El Shamaliya Agricultural Cooperative was founded in December 2010, and is made up of 31 members, of which 5 are women. The main impetus behind the founding of the cooperative was to support members with agricultural inputs, and provide a stronger platform for linking to new markets, both local and for export. They provide members with training in best practices, as well as equipment for pruning and harvesting, and collectively purchased several new stainless steel tanks for storing their oil according to international best practices. The majority of their production is extra virgin olive oil with acidity levels below 0.4%. The oil they produce for Moon Valley is under 0.3% acidity with robust characteristics, a pungent fruity aroma and a wonderful flavour with earthy undertones.
The cooperative has enabled the growers to improve quality standards, while also giving them a stronger negotiating position vis-à-vis the market. In turn, they have increased their sales and profit margins. One of their most recent achievements was winning the National Palestinian Olive Oil Tasting Panel’s Best Quality Award in 2012, a body overseen by the Palestinian Standards Institute.