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Oregon Olives

Oregon Olive Oil

Oregon Olive Trees

2006 @ Oregon Olives

Nov 25, 2006

   We planted our first olive trees in the spring of 2005, so this harvest is at the end of the second growing season.  There is a cold front with snow predicted, so it’s best to get the farming season finished!

   The three varieties that we harvested are Arbequina, Maurino and Leccino.  Arbequina is a Spanish variety noted for excellent olive oil, Maurino and Leccino are classic Tuscan (Italian) olive oil varieties.  According to the “Olive Production Manual”, pg. 161: “A maturity index of 2.5 to 4.5 is usually used for most olive oils, depending on the variety and desired characteristics of the oil.”  Here is how I rate this year’s crop:

Arbequina:  0.87

Maurino:     2.49

Leccino:      2.03

following the procedure outlined in the book.  The Arbequina is the least ripe of the three, with none of the fruits rated higher than 1 (“Yellow or yellow-green skin color”*).  The Maurino started to change color (veraison) around Nov. 15, with the tightest grouping of ratings of the three varieties.  The Leccino started to turn color around Nov. 1st, but ripening has been inconsistent.  The very ripest fruit were Leccino, with a few that were actually ripe and fell naturally off the tree (the strong winds we have no doubt helped!)

   We are located in Yamhill County, Oregon, in the Eola Hills; in fact at the northern-most hill known as Walnut Hill.  The climate has a very strong maritime influence.  Although we are on the inside of the Oregon Coast Range the main low level air corridor in Oregon (the “Van Duser”) is just to the north of Walnut Hill.  This gives us a very breezy olive grove, but the land is sloped about ~ 7% to the south, so the micro-climate is promising.  The olives are planted at right around 600 feet elevation, in Jory soil, which is a silty clay loam with excellent drainage.  The climate here is USDA zone 8, with last winter’s low temperature measured in the olive grove at 18 degrees F.  Locally, we are most noted for our pinot noir wines; but perhaps in the near future for olives also!

   This year we added more varieties to the grove: planting Frantoio, Pendolino, Santa Caterina, Amfissa, Itrana, Coratina and Picual trees; as well as planting additional Arbequina, Maurino and Leccino trees.

   At the current time, we have nothing to offer, except the information that is on this site.  In the near term future, we hope to offer olive trees for sale, as well as sell our olives raw, cured and as olive oil at the local farmer’s markets!

 

Arbequina olives

Maurino olives

Leccino olives

David@OregonOlivesTrees.com

To contact us:

* 06/11/07: However, check out  http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/2161/29131.pdf

for some interesting information on Arbequina ripening; see the article “Maturity Index”.

2007 @ Oregon Olives

Sept. 3, 2007

Late January 2007 saw a cold wave, reaching all the way down to Mexico along the west coast.  While doing about a billion dollars in damage to California crops (like citrus and avocados), here it caused almost no damage in our olive groves – in spite of being recorded at 14 F on our min-max thermometer.

 

The Reken Estate: 10 different varieties were planted last year at the Reken Estate.  After 18 months in the ground, including going through the cold spell mentioned above, here is how I would rate them (rating based on tree health and net growth: 5/5 being California-like, 0/5 means just bury money in the ground rather than planting olive trees):

 

   Leccino        5/5

   Frantoio       5/5

   Pendolino      4/5

   Arbequina      3/5

   Amfissa      2.5/5

   Maurino      2.5/5

   Picual         2/5

   Itrana         2/5

   Coratina       1/5

   Santa Caterina 1/5

 

A note on Arbequina: being a natural low vigor variety, it will never fare particularly well using net growth as a standard, while still being a healthy and good looking (albeit small) tree.

 

The Reken Estate is planned as a varietal collection of olive trees in an open park like environment, with grain being grown between the trees, just as it was in ancient Greece and Italy.  The trees will be dry farmed, and are spaced in a modern hexagonal pattern at 28 foot intervals.  This year Moraiolo, Taggiasca, Picholine, Calletier, Empeltre, Manzanillo, Hojiblanca, Mission and Lucca trees are planned to be added to the grove; next year Agezy Shami, Azapa, Barouni, K18, Memeli, Uc 49-14, Vassilika, and Zitoum trees will be added.

 

Kathy’s Grove: this year we are planting a second property; this one being an olive oil production grove of “Tuscan” varietals (400 trees), and a grove intended for table olives (100 trees).  The olive oil grove is 50% Leccino, 25% Frantoio, 10% Maurino, 10% Moraiolo, and 5% Pendolino.  This year the table olive grove is planned to have Amphissa, Arbequina, Calletier, Coratina, Empeltre, Hojiblanca, Itrana, Kalamata, Lucca, Manzanillo, Picholine, Picual, and Santa Caterina planted.  The trees will be autumn planted; spaced in a 20 foot hexagonal system with drip irrigation in the future summer months.

Grow Your Own: this year for the first time we tried propagating olive trees from cuttings.  While we have had success rates approaching 100% for grapes and figs, olives are a different story.  Some varieties are relatively easy, some are not.  Having a relatively primitive setup (e.g. seedling trays and grow domes), we had 50% or greater success with Azapa, Barouni, K18 and Uc 49-14.

2008 @ Oregon Olives

Dec 01, 2008

 

The harvest is finished!  All the olives have been tucked away in their glass jars, to slumber away through the winter… well, those which aren’t eaten, of course!

Calabrese Green Cracked Olives

 

 Follow the Mediterranean-style cracked olive recipe here:

 

Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling

 

At Step 7, add the following to the finish brine; for each kilogram of cracked green olives:

 

10 g dried garlic

2 1/2 g dried oregano

2 1/2 g dried crushed red pepper

2 1/2 g fennel seeds

80 ml extra virgin olive oil

 

Marinate in a refrigerator for at least four days; these olives must be stored in a refrigerator and will last for up to one year.  One kilogram of olives nicely fills a half gallon Mason jar.

Oct 23, 2008

 

Table olive processing has got to be some of the easiest manufacturing left in the world - essentially it hasn’t changed for at least 3,000 years.  These Maurino’s were picked; sorted for quality, size and color; cracked using a hammer; and will be soaking with frequent water changes for the next while or so.

Mar 27, 2008

 

It snowed last night - spring has come to Oregon!  And it’s time to propagate semi-hardwood olive cuttings.  After having less than stellar success last year, this year we designed a custom “propagation chamber” intended to keep the temperature at 75 - 80 F, with 95% plus humidity.  There are about 325 cuttings of 28 new to us table olive varietals; all selected to bear larger fruit early in the harvest season.  This should help make up for our cool springs and mild summers...

Jan 28, 2008

 

Olive trees are tough!  We have had temperatures down to 19 F this year, and some snow.  Here is a Leccino tree with the year’s maximum “snow coverage”:

Coratina was one of our favorites.

 

A platter of olives (from top left to bottom right): Itrana, garnishes, Santa Caterina; Leccino, Amphissis, Frantoio; Pendolino, Arbequina and Picual:

Although picked on the same day and processed identically, we all thought that each variety had a distinctive taste; and each was better than the last!

 

Feb 10, 2008

 

The first annual “Tasting of the Olives” at Oregon Olives was held today!  Hannah water cured the olives picked in Nov 2007, then packed them with her own custom blend of spices, and topped and sealed them with a floating of extra virgin olive oil (of course!).  Here is a tray of Coratina (see also the equivalent photo of the unprocessed olives on the 2007 page):

May 22, 2008

 

Olive groves are planted such that the trees have room to grow - a grove is an investment in the future.  What to do with the space between the trees?  Something will grow there, whether you want it or not!  Blackberries, thistle, poison oak, stinging nettles; lots of things.  To build the soil, we have been planting winter and summer cover crops of cereal rye, wheat, oats and buckwheat.  This year we planted a small part in clover and wildflowers.  The bad news - now is the time to plow it down; the bees will hate me...

Sept 18, 2008

 

This year’s major project was an expansion of Kathy’s Grove.  About 80% of the grove are Tuscan olive oil cultivars; the remainder is a collection of olive trees that are generally used for table olives.  It is recommended that oil type trees be planted in cold, marginal climates; but we wouldn’t be pioneers if we believed everything we read!

This year most of the green Maurino’s will be used for natural green ripe olives cured in water (Mediterranean-style cracked olives).

Oct 22, 2008

 

With more olive trees (and olives!) this year, we will be experimenting with different styles of table olives, including styles based on green, turning color and possibly fully ripened olives.  Since some of the olives are already turning color, it’s time to start harvesting.  Below are some Maurino olives which have clearly moved far beyond green!

In one of those coincidences of man and nature, a food writer in Ohio is doing exactly the same olive processing at the same time we are:

 

                                       Olive brining provides a taste of tradition

Nov 2, 2008

 

The cracked green Maurino olives have been debittered with nine days of water changes (see Oct 23); it’s now time to “finish” with added spices and seasonings.  Although I would prefer to use fresh herbs from the garden, it’s better to use dried to avoid off flavors developing in storage.

Picholine, these have one end that is more pointy.

Empeltre, a Spanish olive. Moving into the “turning color” phase of ripeness.

Frantoio, arguably the best olive oil olive in the world.  For “Tuscan” olive oils, the olives are always picked relatively early and green.  But, this year ours are perhaps just a little too green for olive oil:

To the right is a “swatch” of McEvoy Ranch Tuscan olives, grown just north of San Francisco, and picked around Nov 1st.  McEvoy makes an excellent Tuscan style olive oil, and are really nice people as well!  The olives look to be slightly riper than ours.  Perhaps if we had let ours go a couple of more weeks, we would have reached the same ripeness?  That would pretty much match our feeling that we are about one month behind coastal northern California this season, in a olive maturity sense.

This year our main “production” containers for green table olives are half-gallon Mason jars (the biggest Mason jars that are made).  Next year, probably plastic two gallon pails.  The three jars in the back have fermentation locks.  The olives in these jars are curing in brine, and next year will be made into Sicilian-style olives.

Taggiasca, used to make Benedictine style olives (named after the Benedictine monks who originated it).  These olives are elongated, and look somewhat like Jordan almonds.

We do use a little bit of everything; here the largest glass jar is one gallon, and the three smallest containers are our “small customer pack”, eight ounce paragon glass jars.

Nov 16, 2008

 

This year’s olive season is still being controlled by our late spring.  So, it’s time to bit the bullet and decide that the olives are not going to get as ripe as last year.  So let the main harvest begin!  Let this year be known as the year of the Oregon Green Olive!!  Here are some of the newest additions to our varietal collection.

 

From upper left: Hojiblanca, cracked Manzanilla, Cailletier.  Perfect for green olives...

At right is a jar showing the olives picked off just one Leccino olive tree, struck (started from a cutting) in 2005 and field planted in the spring of 2007: about a pound and a half of olives.  For those interested in planting olive trees and making table olives, here is a list of our ten largest olives, from largest olives to smallest:

 

Amfissa

Santa Caterina

Manzanilla

Hoji Blanca

Empeltre

Leccino

Lucca

Frantoio

Coratina

Itrana