Before leaving Portland, our own olive tree began to fruit after three years of careful cultivation on our part. We hope to replicate that success on a bigger scale on our next farm, along with curing and oil processing.
Amid the groves of oranges, avocados and grapes here in California, we found some amazing small olive farms that further inspired our love of this magical fruit.
The Ojai Valley many say is a place of intense energy – with its perfectly-aligned east-west latitude, the sunlight mimics that of the Mediterranean climates in many ways.
Ojai Olives was started by Roy Asquith and family, who keep it a soundly family and organic operation.
Employees harvest by hand generally from October to late November, when the olives have turned from green, to red to purple and finally to black – for the complexity that produces the best golden oil.
They hardly miss a leaf, we’re told.
Predators include bears and the fruit fly – for which insect traps are set (no pesticides, of course!)
From there – the fruit is crushed into a paste, pits and all, in what is essentially “a large food processor,” they say.
They run the machine all day sometimes up to 14 hours, as the immediate bottling of the oil is the only way to ensure freshness and it’s “Extra Virgin Cold Press” label. After it is bottled, the State of California recommends no more than 24 months, in Europe they say 18, before the oil goes rancid.
From there, the paste goes into an olive centrifuge (these machines are not made outside of Italy) then the oil is separated out and put into its giant tanks before a final filtering and bottling.
Smooth and rich, the golden oils of Ojai Olive oil offer a decadent complement to pasta, pizza, salad dressing or bread dipping.
We are proud to offer an entry for a beautiful olive oil gift box from Ojai Olive Oil to those who head to our facebook page and share THIS story via the existing link on our Facebook page! (you do this by finding the “Secrets of the Real Olive Garden” story on Facebook and clicking the “share” button to share with your friends! Extra entry for “liking” our page on FB)
This awesome giveaway includes their award winning oil, fig-infused balsamic vinegar, natural olive soap, lip balm, and oil spout! All packaged in their gorgeous, custom, laser-cut wooden gift box!
Outside Paso Robles, the Pasolivo farm lies down a winding road with literally dozens of vineyards offering tastings along the way, a fantastic day trip if ever you are in the area! At Pasolivo, we were treated to a tour of their grove processing facility and tasting room.
Pasolivo grows 11 varieties of olives and they featured citrus and herb infused blends alongside their delicious olive jelly. It was a very popular place on that Sunday afternoon.
Both of these farms were eager practitioners of permaculture practices for their composting the pulp mash and pest control methods.
The biggest threat to California olives sounded a familiar note in these hot summer days – a lack of water.
The well driller is the most popular guy around, we were told, as some of the wells are now only drawing sand from the aquifiers.
Coyotes in the area get so thirsty they bite through the irrigation lines.
It’s pretty expensive to buy the water in the drier years – solutions many are looking at seem to be man made ponds and cisterns – although this method is highly regulated (read: expensive) by the state.
Sharp and green, Pasolivo provides an olive oil perfect for dressings and would provide a competitive flavor over fish (including anchovy) or garden fresh veggies such as tomato and endive — Their motto is “bitter is better”…
Pasolivo was proud to contribute a lovely tin of basil infused olive oil; perfect for finishing pasta, drizzling over caprese salad, making homemade beauty products, or sizzling with a summer steak! Commenting below will enter you to win this prize (Yes, you can enter to win BOTH prizes!)
We can’t wait to get our hands back in the earth and to start growing these little gems again — These tours have reignited our desire to visit more olive farms in various climates, taste all the varieties that this planet has to offer, and someday soon to live among the silvery groves of Castelvetrano, Arbequina, and Kalamata…
-Kristina & David-
Update: Congrats to our winners: Sara and Jean-Luc! Enjoy your awesome olive products!