Our Latest Harvest EVOOs

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January is one of our favorite months at California Olive Ranch.  We finally get to taste the newly harvested extra virgin olive oil. After we harvest our olives in October and November the olive oil “racks” (lets the sediment sink to the bottom of our tanks so the oil is clear and generally gives the oil a longer life) for a couple of months.  Once we near the end of racking process, our team tastes the oils to determine what blend of our extra virgin olive oils goes into each of our offerings you find on store shelves.

We grow three olive varieties, Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki.  Each of these varietals have different flavor profiles.  The timing of when they are harvested and where they are grown also impacts the flavor of the olive oils they create.  There are literally millions of variations that you can come up with to create these oils.

In each olive oil, we strive for balanced flavor profile that represents the blend.  For our everyday extra virgin olive oil we strive for an olive oil that is versatile – tasty enough for dipping, but mild enough so that it does not overwhelm your food.  This year it contains a majority of later harvest Arbequina and a hint of Arbosana.  Later harvest Arbequina is a mild and fruity olive oil.  Arbosana lends a wonderfully nutty and floral aroma to the oil.  We hope that when you open the bottle the first thing you notice is the wonderful fragrance.

We go through the same process for every blend.  For Rich & Robust, for example, we combine earlier harvest Arbequina which is fruitier and has a stronger flavor intensity with Koroneiki, our most pungent oil, to create a peppery, rich, strongly flavored oil.  For Arbequina we use a blend of early and mid-harvest Arbequina for a nice fruity oil with a little more pungency than EDF.  Our Arbosana is a very special oil; this year it is a complex oil with lots of nuttiness and floral overtones. And so on for each of our products. If we had to choose favorites this year for finishing oils, we’d pick Miller’s Blend or Arbosana.

We hope you will get and out and try one or more of our 2014 harvest extra virgin olive oils.  They should hit shelves relatively soon.

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Wine and Extra Virgin Olive Oil – What Do They Have In Common?

afterlight

We know many of you are wine lovers (so are we) and that you have a good understanding of wine. So we thought a little compare and contrast between wine and extra virgin olive oil would be a great tool for better understanding extra virgin olive oil.

1) WINE AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL ARE BOTH FRUIT JUICES.
TRUE:  Just as wine starts out as freshly pressed grape juice, extra virgin olive oil comes from freshly pressing olives – essentially a fresh fruit juice.  Pinot noir grapes make a different wine than cabernet grapes; likewise the flavor profile of extra virgin olive oils are partially determined by the variety of olive – arbequina and arbosana, for example, have different flavor notes.

2) LIKE A FINE WINE, YOU SHOULD AGE YOUR EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.
FALSE: Olive oil should not be aged.  Olives are harvested and pressed once a year from September-December. Extra virgin olive oil from the most recent years’ harvest is more likely to retain its polyphenol properties (antioxidants), which studies have shown to contribute health benefits.

3) HEAT, LIGHT AND AIR ARE ENEMIES OF BOTH WINE AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.
TRUE: Exposure to the elements above for an extended period of time destroys the properties of both olive oil and wine.  This is why both olive oil and wine are often sold in dark glass and suggested to store in a cool dark place.

These are just a few ways wine and extra virgin olive oil are similar, yet it’s important to note that there are some key differences.

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A Valentine’s Day Treat – Chocolate Arbequina Truffles

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, many of us immediately associate it with big heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates. Rich, decadent assortment of milk and dark chocolates filled with caramel, nougat, fruit, nuts; you name it! But, have you ever tried an olive oil chocolate?

Fruity, floral, bitter and spicy are flavors often attributed to high-quality extra virgin olive oil as well as chocolate. So, naturally they work really well together. In fact, when you use a naturally fruity olive oil such as Arbequina, the olive oil enhances the fruitiness of the dark chocolate.

If you want to really wow your Valentine this year, try your hand at making homemade truffles. With 5 simple ingredients, truffles come together quickly and easily. You can find the full recipe for Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Arbequina Truffles, featured in the video below, on our website.

For more inspiration on how to combine the flavors of chocolate and olive oil, visit our Olive Oil + Chocolate Pinterest board.

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Heart Health & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

olive oil heart hummus

February is Heart Month so we wanted to shine light on some of the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil as it relates to cardiovascular health. Did you know that heart disease remains the number one cause of death in America? And do you what plays the most critical role in the heart disease epidemic? Our diets. That’s right, the biggest factor in heart health is the food we consume every single day; we’re not talking about those fad diets we partake in from time to time.

When it comes to improving cardiovascular health, many of us have good intentions of getting healthier. “More than half of Americans have tried a diet in the past year to potentially improve the overall health of their heart”, according to a new survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic. Scientists have conducted extensive research that proves the Mediterranean diet is the single diet to improve cardiovascular risk factors.

So why aren’t we all eating according to the Mediterranean diet guidelines? Sadly, the answer is simple, unhealthy diet choices are abundant. Americans are inundated with confusing messages about what is healthy versus unhealthy and convenience foods are more affordable and accessible than ever before. “We told people for years that fat is bad, and it stuck,” Dr. Nissen says. “At some point, everyone gets confused.” The survey conducted at Cleveland Clinic aimed to explore “what Americans know” about eating healthy, in particular, for your heart and waistline. An impressive 28% of respondents still viewed a low-fat diet as the best option for improving heart health. Yet the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, and most importantly, extra virgin olive oil, was seen by only 17% of the respondents as the best option for heart health. It appears the decade’s worth of messaging to consumers regarding the “downside of fat” is actually prohibiting the “healthy fats” messaging from resonating with most.

The PREDIMED study found that for people at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil reduced the occurrence of major cardiovascular events by 30%. During the study, the group was asked to cook with 1 liter of olive oil per week. That’s a lot of fat! When it comes to fat, it’s deciphering healthy fats from the unhealthy ones that’s key. Extra virgin olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet is high in monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat. Monounsaturated fats have shown to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood, a key in lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. So, spread the good word with your loved ones this February and share some extra virgin olive oil!

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5 Savory Breakfasts to Switch up Your Morning Routine

quinoa muffins

Photograph from The Year in Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Do you often skip breakfast, pegging it as the least important meal of the day? Or, find yourself gravitation to the same old thing, day in and day out? Time to switch up your routine! Breakfast has many benefits from fueling your mind and body for the day, regulating your blood sugar so that you can concentrate, jump starting your metabolism to keep your weight in check and it’s a delicious way to start your day. We’ve rounded up five savory breakfast options for you that are healthy, filling and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Herbed Sweet Potato & Quinoa Muffins from The Year in Food – A hearty grab and go option for breakfast. Packed with protein filled quinoa and almonds, fresh herbs and nourishing sweet potatoes, these little muffins will keep you satisfied all morning.

Greens and Grains Egg Scramble from A Sweet Spoonful – This dish features vibrant greens (kale, swiss chard or spinach), paired with rich whole grains (faro, barley, or wheat berries) and eggs, topped with chives and green onions.

Coconut Quinoa Bowl from 101 Cookbooks – An excellent use of leftover quinoa! Toasted almonds and coconut paired with crushed garlic, kale, and lemon juice bring a unique combination to this dish. Top off the bowl with avocado and spoonful of salted yogurt.

Shakshuka from Green Kitchen Stories – Some of you have may be familiar with Shakshuka, but if you aren’t, it entails eggs being slowly cooked in a cumin flavored tomato sauce. This version includes dark leafy greens and fresh basil.

Arugula and Cremini Quiche with Gluten Free Almond Meal Crust from Cookie and Kate – Perfect for hosting a weekend brunch or a make ahead breakfast you can grab and go all week. A rich goat cheese and mushroom quiche prepared in a unique almond and herb crust that is sure the delight.

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What Are Polyphenols? — Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s Powerful Antioxidant

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It’s New Year’s resolution time. As good a time as any to spread the word about polyphenols. They’re olive oil’s most raved about health component. And if you haven’t heard about them, they promote good health and have shown to help prevent disease.

So what exactly are polyphenols – other than a mouthful of a word? They’re a form of phytonutrient found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. How do they do that? Polyphenols are a potent antioxidant – one that can decommission a nasty molecule in your body called a free radical. Free radicals can ricochet around inside your body and harm good cells. Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in olive oil, work to neutralize free radicals; protecting the body from their harmful antics.

In her book,The New American Olive OilFran Gage describes the work of polyphenols this way:

“These antioxidants circulate in the body, hooking up with free radicals, unstable compounds thought to play a role in more than 60 different health conditions including cancer and atherosclerosis, as well as aging.” Polyphenols, in other words, act as a pretty powerful cell protector inside your body. Extra virgin olive oil, in particular, is rich in polyphenols. 

Thanks in large part to the recent spotlight on the Mediterranean Diet, extensive research has been done on the phytonutrient composition of olive oil. What they’ve discovered is an extensive list of phytonutrients; one of the most praised is its polyphenols. The amount of polyphenols found in olive oil is truly amazing!

There are a multitude of polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil. Hydroxytyrosol (HT), being one form, helps protect our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules by triggering changes at a genetic level.

Several of the polyphenols found in olive oil—including hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and luteolin—have shown to be especially helpful in avoiding unhealthy blood clotting by keeping our blood platelets in check.

New research is showing that polyphenols in olive oil may help balance the bacteria in our digestive tract; slowing the growth of unwanted bacteria. On this list of polyphenols are: oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol and ligstroside. Some of these polyphenols are specifically able to inhibit the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium; the bacterium that leads to stomach ulcers and other unwanted digestive problems. Yet another category of polyphenols called secoiridoids, continues to be a focus in research on prevention of digestive tract cancers.

The list of benefits goes on and on. So how do you get these polyphenol benefits from extra virgin olive oil? According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, “These anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake. As little as 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day have been shown to be associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits.”

Other foods rich in polyphenols include: onions, apples, tea, red wine, swiss chard, cantaloupe, cabbage, flax seeds, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=132

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=88

http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/tag/polyphenols

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Revive Dry Winter Hair – Olive Oil Hair Mask

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Winter cold and dryness can be tough on our hair and skin. Keeping our bodies hydrated becomes more important in winter months, which is a great time to deep condition our hair with extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil hair masks are easy to make at home. This mask will hydrate and act as a natural conditioner for the hair. Olive oil does wonders in nourishing brittle dry hair, rejuvenating it and giving it a healthy glow. Honey allows to the olive oil to bind and deeply penetrate damaged hair.

We recommend making a simple emulsion of olive oil with some honey to create a hair mask that will bring life back to stressed hair.

Step 1: Comb through wet hair, preferably recently shampooed.

Step 2: Mix ½ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil with ¼ cup honey.

Step 3: Mix the two together with a fork until they are well mixed and make a smooth paste.

Step 4: Taking a handful of the mixture into your hand, start with the ends of your hair and gently massage the mixture into your hair. Apply a liberal amount and comb through to ensure that it is evenly distributed.

Step 5: Pull your hair into a loose bun, and cover your head with a shower cap. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Step 6: Shower, apply shampoo and conditioner as you normally would.

Step 7: Enjoy your new healthy hair!

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5 Ways to Eat Clean in 2015

Produce Spring_Summer

Do you vow to yourself every January 1st that this year is going to be the year to get healthy? If so, you’re in good company. Many of us make health related goals year after year and yet they don’t stick. This year, instead of trying the latest diet trend, overcommitting to exercise or falling trap to seemingly impossible end goals, we’re sticking to five simple guidelines to eating clean. So what exactly do we mean by “eating clean”?

According to Terry Walters, author of Eat Clean Live Well, “Eating clean is about filling your plate and your diet with super-nutritional foods that heal and nourish…and doing the best you can… one healthy choice at a time for sustainable good health. There are no rigid guidelines or harmful judgments, just abundant seasonal foods that are minimally processed for maximum nutrition … These are the foods we all need more of no matter what else is on our plates — whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruit, all in a rainbow of color and all five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent).”

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In simple terms, eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits. It’s about embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats – while cutting back on processed and fried foods, refined flours and sugar laden foods. The best part? It’s not about counting calories or giving up whole food groups, which makes it easier to follow. Instead of trying to change your whole routine and lifestyle overnight, take it slow and steady; start by making small adjustments each week. Pick one health goal to work on for 1-2 weeks until it becomes a habit before adding on a second.

  1. Get rid of diet food and start getting real. Chuck out all of those protein powders, power bars, diet pills, low-fat or fat-free foods. Instead reach for whole grains, fresh seasonal produce, unsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, lean proteins, nuts and seeds.
  2. Mix up your favorites. Swap mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes. Try grated cauliflower in place of rice or use it as a base for pizza crust instead of wheat. Add some kale to your pesto. Puree some cooked carrots or squash to add to pancakes or your favorite pasta sauce. Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter or canola oil.
  3. Learn to love fat! Pair carbohydrates with healthy fats to slow their digestion. This will help keep you fuller and more alert longer. Fat is a powerhouse for the body. Fat not only provides longer lasting energy for the body but it is a main source of fuel for the brain. You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. Start by swapping out saturated fats (butter, cheese, meat) for healthy monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fish). Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats are good for your heart and can help raise your HDL “good” cholesterol. Need an easy way to get in more healthy fats? Make your own dressings. An average bottled dressing is not only costly but is loaded with preservatives, sugar and sodium.  Making a simple extra virgin olive oil based dressing at home is free of preservatives and added chemicals plus it could save you a pretty penny.
  4. It matters how it’s made. Look for seals of quality and certifications. Don’t be fooled by “all-natural” or “healthy” claims. Know what to look for! There are many great resources to help you cut through the marketing claims. When it comes to organic, it’s not all or nothing. The simple guide to the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” will help with making decisions regarding produce.
  5. Get colorful! Try for three different colors at each meal. Especially try to sneak in dark leafy greens. Try different combinations. Buy seasonal produce – this will not only save you money, but will help improve your health by ensuring you get the most nutrient dense produce and the widest array of nutrients.

Learning to eat clean can be a big lifestyle change. Take things a day at a time, one meal at a time, one decision at a time. Each time you choose whole foods over processed foods you’re making progress. Keep it simple and make it fun!

Resources:

http://www.thedailymeal.com/entertain/top-clean-eating-trends-2015

http://www.self.com/flash/nutrition/2014/12/top-healthy-food-trends-joy-bauer/

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_ways_to_eat_clean

http://www.babble.com/body-mind/11-ways-to-eat-clean-on-a-budget/

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/thumbnails/0,,20599288,00.html

http://www.cncahealth.com/explore/learn/nutrition-food/fooled-by-food-labels-9-deceptive-claims-to-watch-out-for#.VKNGKCvF96w

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/04/30/top-dirty-dozen-and-clean_n_5242343.html

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035/The-Dirty-Dozen-Foods-You-Should-Always-Buy-Organic.html

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A Guide to Dipping – Extra Virgin Olive Oil + Artisan Breads

Looking for an easy appetizer for upcoming holiday celebrations? Simple, we are big fans of dipping artisan breads in extra virgin olive oil. Amplify your usual extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar dip with these suggested combinations.

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Classic Italian

1/2 cup  extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Miller’s Blend)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pressed
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 baguette

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Spicy Tomato Basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Miller’s Blend)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 loaf ciabatta

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Honey Walnut & Rosemary

1/2 cup Arbequina extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Arbequina)
1/4 cup raw walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons honey
Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
1 loaf rosemary focaccia

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Greek Lemon

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (we suggest Arbequina)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Zest of one lemon + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons za’atar
Coarse sea salt + pepper to taste
1 loaf olive bread

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Holiday Gift Guide – our favorite gift ideas for the cook in your life!

Gift Guide 2Are you still on the hunt for the perfect gift for the friend that LOVES to cook? We have some ideas… But don’t forget the extra virgin olive oil!

 

Williams-Sonoma Smart Tools iPad Mini Screen Protector – $15 - WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Olivewood Salt Keeper, Double – $60 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Fermintation Pot – $90 - WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Littledeer Turn Oar – $30 – Surlatable.com

Double Mezzaluna – $40 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA.COM

Hammered Flat Bottom Wok, 14″ – $30 – surlatable.com

R. Murphy Reclaimed Wood Carbon Steel Knives – FOOD52.COM

Jacobsen Salt Co. Ghost Chili Pepper Salt – $10.59 - JACOBSENSALTCO.COM

Flour + Water: Pasta Cookbook by Thomas McNaughton – $18.99 – itunes.com

Whirpool Long Bib Apron, in Cream Navy Stripe – EBAY.COM

 

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