Have you ever wondered how California became a hub for olive oil production? Well, you are in luck. In this article, we will talk about how and when the olive oil business got started and what goes into creating fresh, high-quality gourmet olive oil in California.
Here Are 4 Things You Should Know About Olive Oil in California
Do you love olive oil? Continue reading to learn all about the history of olive oil in California, the harvesting process, oil production, and more!
1. Uncovering the History of Olive Oil
Nan McEvoy and Michael Henwood would never have met in the typical run of circumstances. She was a doyenne of San Francisco society and a wealthy newspaper heiress. He was a poor farmer with scarred hands from a lifetime of physical labor.
The heiress and the farmer, however, shared a common interest: olive oil. McEvoy grew it on her Petaluma property from trees she brought from Tuscany. On his father’s Marysville ranch, Henwood harvested fruit from a neglected 100-year-old orchard.
Both admire the trees for their history, which has been intertwined with human existence since the dove delivered Noah an olive branch to signal the end of the flood that wiped off humanity. Both predict that California orchards will produce oils as excellent as those squeezed in Italy in the future.
The two are part of a growing group of businesspeople who want to make California’s olive oils as well-known as its wines. They see a time when good restaurants offer lists of the state’s best olive oils—which owners designate by location and variety, just like wine—for dipping bread or sprinkling on dishes.
The boutique olive oil industry in California was founded less than a decade ago in the wine regions of Napa and Sonoma. According to Ken Stutz, president of the California Olive Oil Council and a gourmet oil producer himself, retail sales of gourmet oils exceeded $7 million last year. The rest of the oil was manufactured from table-olive rejects and sold in bulk to restaurants, accounting for around 40% of the state’s retail sales of olive oil.
However, what began as a labor of love among the wealthy appears to have the potential to become the state’s next significant gourmet export.
2. Learning the Harvesting Process
Olive oil is one of the most dynamic of the 350 agricultural products produced in California. The state’s olive oil producers prepare for harvest and milling season in late October, after harvesting most of the state’s other crops.
The weather and the ripeness of the fruit determine the start of the harvest. Different varieties of olives are collected at various stages of ripeness to capture a diverse range of flavors. With over 75 olive cultivars grown across multiple soil types, temperatures, and microclimates, California extra virgin olive oils offer an almost endless diversity of flavor options to consumers.
3. Identifying the Ways of Making Olive Oil
One can use many different methods in making olive oil. Farmers in California use tried-and-true ways to extract the most nutrients from olives while preserving their rich, natural flavor. The majority of high-quality olive oil in the state is cold-pressed and extra-virgin. This data indicates that the olives have only been pressed once with non-heated equipment.
As a result, the olives’ original flavor and taste are nearly unchanged. This extraction procedure produces some of the most exquisite olive oils available, which you’ll notice the next time you use them in salads or marinades.
4. Knowing How to Enrich Olive Oils
In some circumstances, California producers flavor their olive oil with other leaves and herbs. When pressing the olive oil, they can add basil leaves, oregano, garlic cloves, lemons, and rosemary springs, for example. The flavor of the resultant oil is enhanced by this processing method, making it even more delectable.
As you can see, a bottle of olive oil in California can become a mainstay in your diet while also assisting in improving your cardiovascular health. People who live the longest consume olive oil; thus, you should include it more frequently in your meals if you want to live a long and healthy life.
If you’re looking for high-quality balsamic and extra virgin olive oil in California, be sure to visit The Olive Bar in Downtown Campbell, CA. We have organic olive oil varieties for a quick pick of some of the most incredible artisan olive oils California has to offer!