Sixty million olive trees carpet the land of Jaen. The substance that is extracted from them constitutes the main economic and social distinguishing mark of the province. Olive oil is the cultural emblem of a race who work to extol the excellence, the quality and properties of the juice of the olive. Jaen generates twenty percent of the world's olive oil production.
The dozens of oil presses spread around the length and breadth of the province place it at the head of our national production, with an average of over six hundred, thousand tons of high quality oil every season. The zones of the campifia (fertile areas of cultivated land) produce the greatest quantity, but it is in the regions of the sierra where the most exquisite product is manufactured. In fact the three guarantees of origin are located in the sierras of Segura, Magina and Cazorla. The Oil Museum in the Hacienda of la Laguna in Baeza is replete with some of its most excellent examples. Harvesting takes place during the winter months. The fields fill up with beaters and gatherers, composing a typical farming scene. This image is so typical, that it still corresponds to the same ritual that took place in the past.
The oil presses, some of which are real jewels of rural architecture, collect the olives which will later be pressed. The best oil is that which is described as 'extra virgin'. Some of the most impressive dishes of the meritorious and plentiful Jaen gastronomy is prepared with it. For example, in gazpacho and pipirannas (a kind of salad prepared with finely chopped vegetables) olive oil is an essential ingredient. Spinach with sultanas and pine nuts is a dish which is typical of Jaen 's recipe book. Flamenquines, fine rolls of stuffed meat, covered in breadcrumbs, are not lacking in the bars found in the old quarters of Jaen. Linares is worthy of the fame that its tabernas (taverns) have acquired. They offer an ample selection of tapas amongst which the filled bread rolls are worthy of mention. La Carolina is famous for its partridge pate and Andujar for its mountain game In Santa Elena, honey of a thousand flowers is still home-produced. In the villages of Sierra Magina such as Bedmar, fresh asparagus is bottled. Alcaudete produces habas (broad beans) fried in olive oil.
The gastronomy of the sierra pays special attention to such fundamental dishes as las migas pas to riles (fried breadcrumbs accompanied by garlic) or andrajos, a potato and cod stew. Trout is dressed and smoked in Cazorla and Segura, whilst lomo en orza (pork marinated in herbs, then cooked and conserved in oil) is a delicacy shared by the villages in the southern part of the province.
Towns such as Baeza prepare ropavieja (old clothes), a pure of stewed chickpeas and onion. Ubeda has great experience in desserts and pastries where one can try ochios (almond-shaped pastries flavoured with cinnamon and sesame) and hornazos (bread dough flavoured with lemon, cinnamon and almonds). The convent pastries are shared throughout Jaen. Milk rolls, aniseed tarts, borrachuelos (liquor filled pastries) and bizcocho borrachuelo (liquor sponge) are baked in the pastry shops all over the province. The hojaldres (mille feuille) of Guarroman and the pestiños (honey coated pastries) of Alcala de Real are worthy of their fame. Locubin produces juicy cherries and villages in Sierra Magina, almonds and other nuts. Bailen, Torreperogil and Lopera possess wine presses and cellars where wine of a marked aroma and remarkable body ages nicely. Liqueurs made from herbs are still produced in distilleries in Sierra de Segura.