Chefs Celebrating Harvest

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Recently, we were fortunate enough to be joined, for a two day harvest celebration, by some of the best chefs from New York and San Francisco. Included in the group were: Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern; John Adler, Franny’s; Karen Shu, ABC Kitchen, Dan Kluger, formerly of ABC Kitchen; Matt Armendariz, Parke Ulrich, Waterbar; Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari, Hillside Supper Club; Laurence Jossel, Nopa, and Shannon Waters, Flour and Water and soon to be Aatxe.

Thursday evening, Chefs Ryan Pollnow and Thomas McNaughton hosted the group for an olive oil-centric meal at Central Kitchen, where they used specialized California Olive Ranch oils for each course. They served everything from olive oil poached quail to hibiscus leaf ice cream with Arbequina olive oil jam. Over dinner, the chefs shared ideas on the diverse ways to use olive oil in dish, either as a subtle component or as a primary component.

The next morning, the chefs all piled into a 15 passenger van to begin the journey north to our mill, to watch olives turn into the olive oil they know and trust. The chefs had the opportunity to ask questions about the olive varietals as they curiously plucked the olives off of the tree and watched as the olives were harvested. Chef Michael Anthony loved visiting the source of the olive oil he uses in his restaurant, and felt that “California Olive Ranch is clearly forward thinking and it’s great to see a producer work so hard to make such a good product.”

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After touring the rest of our facility, Chef John Adler was impressed by all of the systems we have in place to track every bottle, “The traceability is the most impressive part. How you can trace a bottle back to the grower and go back and see how you can make it better. If we could apply that to our cooking we would be in a great place!”

As the tour came to a close, the group completed their visit with a tasting with Master Miller, Bob Singletary. Bob demonstrated the traditional method for tasting olive oil and had the chefs follow suit, to really pick up on the different flavor characteristics of each oil. Wowed, Matt Armendariz said, “I never knew olive oil could taste like that.” The group tossed ideas back and forth on how they would pair the different oils in their restaurants.

After a fun filled two days, the chefs returned to their kitchens, hopefully a bit more inspired by the oil they use every day. It was an honor for us to welcome such talents, and always a great reminder for us here at California Olive Ranch that our extra virgin olive oils are so well loved all around the country.

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From Drizzling To Baking: 6 Ways To Use Oil Oil At Thanksgiving

We’re hosting our first Thanksgiving meal in years, now that relatives are coming to our house versus the other way around. We’re still mulling our serving options. But one thing is for sure: Extra virgin olive oil will play a key role. Good olive oil adds flavor to a variety of dishes, from mashed spuds or sweet potatoes to pecan pie. It also keeps the turkey moist, when rubbed on beforehand. And olive oil is a healthful alternative to butter.

Below are six ways for using olive oil in your Thanksgiving feast – in everything from mashed potatoes and cornbread, to vegetables and the Thanksgiving bird itself.

  1. Give roasted veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes or yams a finishing drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil for added flavor. We’d opt for our peppery Miller’s Blend. You can do the same with boiled or steamed veggies, too.
  2. If you have a flavor injector – like the one in the photo – use it to inject olive oil into the breast and thighs of the turkey just before roasting. You could also try olive oil infused with lemon, garlic or rosemary. Flavor Injector
  3. Rather than rub your turkey with butter, rub it with olive oil beforehand. For added flavor, use an herb-infused olive oil rub. Chefs Marge Perry and David Bonom, for example, combine fresh sage, thyme, garlic, and olive oil and rub that mixture under and over the skin, infusing the meat with flavor and helping keep it moist. Our Everyday Fresh oil would be good. (Click here to see turkey recipe.)
  4. When it comes to basting the bird, try a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs like rosemary and sage. (Click here to see the recipe.)
  5. Swap out melted butter for olive oil in baked goods like cornbread. “Why melt the butter if extra virgin is already liquid?” asks Italy-based food writer Faith Willinger. “Use your favorite cornbread recipe, substituting extra virgin for melted butter.” Alternatively, try Willinger’s own cornbread, featured in the photo at the top. (Click here to see the recipe.) Our buttery Everyday Fresh is good for baking.
  6. Make your mashed potatoes with olive oil instead of butter and cream. “I recall that my grandma would fork-mash boiled potatoes, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt,” Italian food writer Lidia Bastianich says. She’s developed her own version, adding roasted garlic cloves. (Click here to see the recipe.)

You can also find more Thanksgiving recipes in our November eNewsletter, which is devoted to reinventing classic Thanksgiving dishes with olive oil. (Click here to see the eNewsletter.)

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Mediterranean-Type Diet May Guard Against Chronic Kidney Disease – Study

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Chalk up yet another potential health benefit tied to a Mediterranean-style diet.  A new study finds that adhering to that regimen – rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and heart-healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil – may significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

People who stuck to a dietary pattern resembling the Mediterranean diet had a 50 percent lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and a 42 percent lower risk of experiencing rapid kidney function decline, according to the study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“Many studies have found a favorable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others,” Dr. Minesh Khatri of the Columbia University Medical Center said in a news release. “There is increasing evidence that poor diet is associated with kidney disease, but it is unknown whether the benefits of a Mediterranean diet could extend to kidney health as well.”

Khatari and his colleagues set out to test whether an improved diet might provide more health benefits. They followed 900 people for nearly seven years. The researchers said that every one-point increase in a Mediterranean diet score was tied to a 17 percent lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease is a growing epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20 million people in the United States may have chronic kidney disease. Your chances of having CKD increase with age, according to the CDC. The odds increase after age 50 years and is most common among adults older than 70 years.

And while there has been significant progress in protecting against kidney disease and its progression – through aggressive treatment of “risk factors” like hypertension and diabetes – many people still experience declining kidney function as they age.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Julie Lin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital noted that a Mediterranean-style diet is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also needs to incorporate regular physical activity.

“Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality that there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions,” she wrote.

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

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A Day at the Ranch

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Last week we rounded up some of our favorite food bloggers for a tour of our ranch and mill. Some of the nicest people and  most talented cooks and photographers from around the web spent the day following the olives from branch, to harvest, to milling, to bottle. We love the moment when folks reveal a gasping ‘ahhhh!’ when they see the vibrant green fresh oil flowing.  Or, the ‘mmmm!’ as they breathe in the grassy and floral aroma walking among those in the mill. We are so thankful to share harvest with such passionate folks.
photo 2Under drizzly skies, the tour began with grower relations manager, Brian, as he explained the pivotal role of his team of ranchers and the bonds with our partner California farmers.  From the minute our trees are planted to the time the olives are ready for harvesting, he explained our drip irrigation methods, how we plant in trellised rows planted north to south for maximum sun exposure, and how we quality check the fruit weekly starting early summer on every block of the ranches.

Brian shared the unique visual differences between each of the three varietals – from the shape of the olive to the color of the leaves – each offers their own personality into the mix of trees.  Koroneiki olive’s shape is similar to that of a football with slightly pointed ends, contrasted by the oval Arbosana.  Arbequina has a plump rounded shape with hues ranging from moss green to blush to light purple, all displaying various ranges of ripeness, all on one tree.
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Then we moved to the mill, where we saw the raw olives unload and enter the milling process – through the washers, the hammermill, and emerging as vibrant green extra virgin olive oil.   At the end of the tour we sat down with Bob Singletary, our Master Miller, and tasted five freshly milled extra virgin olive oils, each with a slight variance in color from bright green to beautiful liquid gold.  Bob explained how extra virgin olive oil is evaluated from a sensory standpoint and guided our guests through the different flavor profile of each oil.  Swirl, snif, slurp and swallow……all delicious and all-encompassing of each of our five senses.  From mild to bold oils, he explained the unique aspects each of our Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki olives offer, and how that flavor enhances the fresh ingredients we cook with every day.
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Thank you to Kathryne of Cookie and Kate, Erin of Naturally Ella, Stacy of Delightful Crumb, Kelsey of Happyolks and Brenda of A Farmgirl’s Dabbles for joining us up at the ranch. We are thankful to know you, and hope you too enjoyed experiencing a little bit of California agriculture.

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How We Mill Our Freshest Olive Oil: Limited Reserve; Place Your Order Now

We mill a very special extra virgin olive oil in the fall: Limited Reserve. Limited is the freshest oil we make. It’s essentially bottled soon after the olives are crushed, delivering a “burst” of flavor intensity in your mouth. You can now place your order for Limited. (Click here to place order for Limited Reserve.Limited Reserve Bottle 2014

Limited is seasonally available immediately after harvest. It represents our finest first cold pressings from the first weeks of harvest.

Modeled after the Olio Nuovo tradition in Italy, Limited is bottled intentionally with olive fruit suspended in the oil. Those particles are what deliver that “burst” of fruitiness in your mouth – along with the highest degree of health benefits (by  way of polyphenols) and freshness.

It’s a perfect gift for the holidays. And it’s best if consumed within 9 months of harvest.

Traditionally, we use all three of our olive varieties to make Limited. Arbequina provides a lot of fruit flavor and herbaciousness. The Arbosana always gives a lot of floral notes and contributes to the medium bitterness and pungency we like to have in the Limited Reserve. And the Koroneiki gives us that real kick in the back of your throat pungency, as well as a very banana flavor at the beginning.

This year, however, we decided to go with a blend of all Koroneiki oils from two separate ranches we have.  One of the Koroneiki oils provides the strong pungency that we love in our Limited Reserve, with a hint of the green herbaceousness.  The other Koroneiki  is from a younger orchard and gives the milder tones with the green tea, green fruit (apple and banana) characteristics that we absolutely love.

When choosing which oils to use, our team will usually meet a few weeks before we plan to bottle the oil. We’ll review the various oils we’ve made, and make various blends with our tasting team. We’ll then choose the best.

We use Limited with all kinds of dishes at Thanksgiving. We drizzle it on roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. We blend it into mashed sweet potatoes instead of butter. We drizzle it on freshly sliced pieces of turkey. We’ve even drizzled Limited on pecan pie. The oil’s peppery kick delivers a nice counterpoint to the pie’s sweet flavor.

Limited is great with other dishes, too. Drizzle it on bruschetta rubbed with garlic. Toss it with pasta and sauteed garlic to create that classic Italian dish, spaghetti aglio e olio.

But here’s our best advice when it comes to Limited Reserve: Let your imagination run wild!

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

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Study Suggests Olive Oil, Nuts May Help Reverse Heart Risk Factors

More evidence that eating like a Greek can be good for your ticker. According to a new study, consuming a Mediterranean diet with additional extra virgin olive oil or nuts could reverse conditions that trigger heart disease. Collage Heart and Olive Oil

Spanish researchers found that people who ate fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish along with extra olive oil or nuts lowered their obesity and blood glucose levels. Both are symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which boosts a person’s risk of stroke, heart disease or diabetes.

“A healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, with a moderate-high intake of vegetable fat (in form of virgin olive oil or nuts) is a good healthy option for the prevention of several cardiovascular risk factors and chronic disease,” the study’s senior author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó told Reuters Health.

Around a quarter of adults are estimated to suffer from metabollic syndrome, which reflects a combination of three risk factors, including:  high blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and obesity.

The researchers tracked about 5,800 men and women aged 55-80 who were at risk of heart disease. They were divided into three groups: One followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil; the second a Mediterranean diet with additional nuts; and the third – a control group – a low-fat diet.

While 64 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome at the onset of the study, according to researchers, 28% of people no longer had symptoms after eating the Mediterranean diet. In particular, the researchers found that after nearly five years the people in the two Mediterranean diet groups were more likely to have lost belly fat and to have lower blood sugar levels.

“The higher reversion rate of metabolic syndrome was mainly observed in those individuals allocated to the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil,” Salas-Salvadó told Reuters Health.

“We can speculate that a Mediterranean diet, particularly one supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (which has anti-inflammatory properties), could exert positive effects on fat redistribution.”

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Ranch Update: the Drought and Our Olive Harvest; Sporting Harvest Beards

Photo by Charlie Garcia, California Olive Ranch

Photo by Charlie Garcia, California Olive Ranch

We’re thick into harvest, having started in early October. Our harvest teams are putting in 14-hour days to gather the olives and truck them to our northern California mill. The wonderful smell of fresh extra virgin olive oil permeates the mill. Meanwhile, the men on the harvest and milling teams are sporting their annual harvest beards. It’s part of a fun competition. We caught up with one of our ranchers, Brian Mori, to see how the harvest – and the beards – are going. Brian works with the family farmers who grow many of our olives.

How’s the harvest been going so far?

It’s been going at a pretty good pace. We’re becoming more efficient every year. We fine-tune our operations from one year to the next. Also, we haven’t had any rain that would prevent us from harvesting.

We’re still running about a 1-½ to 2 two weeks earlier than past harvests. We had an earlier season in general, so we were able to start the harvest early. The fruit maturity was ahead of schedule. Like last year, we had an early dry spring, which starts the olive development cycle earlier than usual.

Has the drought had any impact on the harvest?

It definitely has limited the water that we have in certain areas. And the drought contributed to the earlier harvest date. When we get into drought conditions, we have to limit the amount we can irrigate the trees. The dry conditions can put some stress on the trees, which can contribute to the olives maturing earlier.

How this year’s crop yield?

We’re a little bit lighter this year overall. But last year was an incredible year in terms of volume. So it’s not a big surprise that this year is a little smaller.

What are some of the fun traditions during harvest?

Most of our field and milling teams are involved in the beard contest. For this contest, you get points for style as well as volume – in other words, who can grow the largest beard. It’s a good tradition, one we’ve been doing for the last several years. It’s a team-building experience. We also have a barbecue at the end of harvest that everyone looks forward to.

How busy are you all in the orchards?

We’re working 14 hour days, seven days a week. We’ve been going at a consistent pace. Everyone is still in pretty good spirits. That said, I’m sure everyone is praying for at least one rainy day to get a day off.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I usually start my day at about 5 am. We’ll check the harvest schedule to see what’s been delivered from the night before. We also set that’s day’s schedule – what we’ll harvest and when. And we’ll determine whether there’s anything we need to address that day. I usually get home at about 7 pm or 8 pm.

It seems like you have a pretty diverse group of people involved in harvest and milling.

We’re predominantly a younger group – under 30. On the milling side they have a pretty good mix of men and women. Here on the harvest side we’re primarily male.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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5 Great Ways to Prepare One of Our Favorite Fall Veggies: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprout collage

It’s hard for us to pass up Brussels sprouts during fall – especially when you can get them still attached to their thick, green stalks. We’re partial to roasting them in extra virgin olive oil and giving them a finishing drizzle of our robust, seasonally available Limited Reserve. But they also can be blanched or boiled, sautéed, and even grilled. Oh … they’re good raw, too!

Brussels sprouts, by the way, belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with broccoli and cauliflower. They’re high in vitamin K, a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight chronic inflammation in the body. Brussels sprouts also are high in vitamin C, which helps to support the immune system. And they contain an array of B vitamins, which are important for energy production.  One more benefit: Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams in every cup. So what’s not to love!

Below are five ways to prepare what is arguably our favorite fall veggie.

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Besides Brussels sprouts, we also love bacon. So this dish is a great marriage of flavors. In addition to the sprouts and bacon, it combines diced red potatoes and garlic. All are roasted together in extra virgin olive oil, until the Brussels sprouts are caramelized and the potatoes tender. A finishing drizzle of balsamic vinegar provides the final touch. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

The sprouts in this dish are sliced thin and combined with thinly sliced pears. The dish comes together with a dressing made from fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive, such as our Arbequina. It gets a grating of Pecorino Toscano, an Italian table cheese from Tuscany. The dish comes from San Diego Chef Trey Foshee, who heads the kitchen at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Brussels sprouts were a new concept in our “test kitchen” when we first prepared them. And we weren’t disappointed. They have a pleasant smokiness. And they’re a huge step up from boiled sprouts, which can emit a sulfurous stench. To prepare, boil briefly, toss with extra virgin olive oil such as our Everyday Fresh, and cook over live fire until nicely charred. (Click here to see a recipe from Food52 for grilled Brussels sprouts.)

Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw

Blogger Kate Taylor of Cookie + Kate was enjoying a Brussels sprout salad at a local restaurant in her town when she brainstormed the idea of making a slaw from shredded Brussels sprouts. And then another idea clicked in her head. “It occurred to me that a nice, emulsified mustard dressing would be creamy, almost like mayonnaise. Bam! This salad was born,” she writes. Make the dressing with our fruity Arbequina. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Lentils, Bacon, and Pear Salad

Blogger Kelsey Boyte of Happyokes created this dish. She says it was inspired by British food writer Nigel Slater’s chapter on Brussels sprouts in his book Tender. The sprouts, by the way, are shredded and blanched briefly in boiling water. The salad comes together with a Dijon vinaigrette, which you could make with our peppery Miller’s Blend to complement the bold flavors of the various ingredients. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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World Food Day: Toast the Vital Role of Family Farmers w/ #ToastAFarmer

COR Growers

Today we observe World Food Day – a day where people worldwide come together to declare their commitment to end hunger in our lifetime. And this year’s theme is the role of family farmers in eradicating world hunger. Family farmers represent the backbone of global agriculture, playing a huge role in feeding families around the world. So today we toast family farmers around the world and here at home in California, where we depend on family farmers for a significant portion of the high-quality olives we use to make our extra virgin olive oil.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people. The UN agency notes that this year’s family farmer theme focuses global attention on the key role family farmers play in:

  • Eliminating hunger and poverty
  • Providing food security and nutrition
  • Improving livelihoods
  • Managing natural resources
  • Safeguarding the environment
  • And achieving sustainable development, especially in rural areas

According to the FAO, family farmers account for some 98% of farm holdings around the world. At California Olive Ranch, we look to family farmers across northern California to grow and cultivate our olives. We’re working closely with them right now as we harvest our olives and crush them into extra virgin olive oil. You can see some of our family farmers in the photos above. They play an invaluable role in making California Olive Ranch possible. We can’t thank them enough.

Please join us today in recognizing the contribution family farmers make to our daily lives. How? Snap a photo or create a video that shows how you appreciate their contribution too feeding the world’s population. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other form of social media along with the hashtag #ToastAFarmer. It will show family farmers that we recognize their invaluable contribution.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Introducing #OliveToHarvest Photo Contest

Fall 2014 First RunFall harvest is upon us! We want to know, what do you love about the fall harvest season? Do you have favorite fall ingredients? Favorite fall dishes? We love fall because it means time to harvest our olives and make extra virgin olive oil. To celebrate the start of our olive harvest season, we’re hosting a photo contest and giveaway! Details listed below on how to enter, what to take photos of and what we’re giving away:

  • WHAT: Snap pictures of what you love about harvest season; photos of your favorite seasonal fall produce or a seasonal home-cooked meal along with your favorite California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
  • HOW: Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter or our Facebook wall with the hashtag #olivetoharvest. Your photos will automatically be entered to win and will be displayed in our gallery
  • WHEN: Contest runs October 15th – November 15th
  • WHY: We want to share in the joy of fall harvest and see what you #olivetoharvest

We’ll be selecting ten winners to receive our seasonally available Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil, fresh off the presses! Limited to one winning photo per entrant. Winners will be announced online, November 20th.

-Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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