2011 @ Oregon Olives

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Nov 04, 2011

 

Size matters  There is a Federal Marketing Order that covers the California table olive industry, which among other things specifies the official size grades for table olives.  However, more important are the size grades of the olive processors, such as Bell Carter Foods.  The sizes specified by Bell Carter are as follows:

 

                             Count per pound

            Extra Large          72 -  80

            Large                89 - 105

            Medium              106 - 121

            Standard (small)    128 - 140

            Petite              141 - 180

            Subpetite           181 - up

 

Petite can only be used for sliced and chopped olives; subpetite can only be used for Spanish olives and olive oil; culls of any sort can only be used for olive oil.  Because of this, and lack of market acceptance of small olives, prices are sharply different and much less for the lower grades.  Subpetite and culls are basically worthless, while petites are worth only about half as much as the higher grades.

 

This information is culled from an old University of California publication, which is the best I could find on the matter.

 

So, Oregon is not California, but it is interesting to see where the size ranges fit in with what we can grow.  Restating the Bell Carter grades:

                              Value   Olive Weight (grams)

            "Market quality"   $$       3.25 +

            Petite              $       2.5 - 3.24

            Subpetite           0       < 2.5

 

So, on that note, here is this weeks Arbequina size data:

 

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

So, a plain and simple way of saying this is: this year Oregon grown Arbequina are probably not going to be worth much, not even particularly valuable for making olive oil.  The pits are so large and the flesh so scanty that the olives will have a low yield of olive oil (the pits contribute pretty much nothing to the volume or the flavor of the olive oil, in fact there are de-pitter mills that separate out the pits prior to milling for olive oil in an attempt to get to "beyond extra virgin" olive oil quality).

 

11.04.11 Arbequina sample - 100 olives with an average weight of 0.74 grams:

And here are the cured olives!  The back three jars are the Nocellara del Belice, the front right are the Amfissa, the small pile of olives are the same Arbequina shown above, and in the left front is a jar of commercially processed olives from The Olive Pit.  Notice how clean fresh and green the home cured olives look!  Not quite the brilliant blue green of a Castelvetrano-style cure, but pretty enough!

Nov 08, 2011

 

Ambiance and Feel  Bill of Terras Landscaping did a project for a Portland customer that included 5 Pendolino olive trees.  He purchased some landscape quality Pendolino trees, and specially pruned them to emphasize the beauty of their multi-trunk form.  I think he did an excellent job:

A very "Tuscan" look, in my opinion!  While we don't currently have any trees of this size, I am growing up some special Kalamata trees to be used by landscapers such as Bill.

 

A special note: Pendolino are not self pollinating.  If a project needs to move beyond "ambiance and feel" and get the special reward of growing their own olives, some Kalamata olive trees would compliment these lovely Pendolino trees quite nicely!

Nov 10, 2011

 

End of the Green Table Olive Season  The olives are starting to significantly color up, signaling the end of the green table olive season.  A comparison of the olives of forty different cultivars, all grown in Amity Oregon this year:

From top to bottom, and left to right:

 

                US Quarter   US Dime

Aggezi Shami    Aglandau     Amfissa                Arbequina

Arbosana        Ascolano     Azapa                  Barouni

Bosana          Bouteillan   Cailletier             Canino

Carolea         Casaliva     Chetoui                Coratina

Empeltre        Frantoio     Grignan                Hoji Blanca

Itrana          Kalamata     Koroneiki              Leccino

Lucca           Manzanillo   Maurino                Mission

Mission Leiva   Moraiolo     Nocellara del Belice   Nocellara de Etnea

Pendolino       Picholene    Picual                 Saiali Magloue

Salome          Salonenque   Santa Caterina         Sevillano

                US Quarter   US Dime

 

So, take your choice!  Which do you like best?

 

NB  We did complete the green table olive harvest season.  What you see above are some of the best examples of the fruit of each specific cultivar, as well as some better examples of the fruit of the olive oil cultivars such as Koroneiki.  Obviously, nobody in their right mind would try to make table olives out of this years Koroneiki!

11.11.11

 

This weeks Arbequina size data:

 

             11.11.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.71 grams weight

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

No, the olives are not getting smaller.  Well, they could be, but I doubt it.  Probably it is just the "luck of the draw" and ending up with a slightly smaller set of olives.  However, it will make next weeks data more interesting, to see what that number is! 

November 18, 2011

 

Getting close to The End?

 

             11.18.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.75 grams weight

             11.11.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.71 grams weight

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

Seems like the olives may not be getting much if any bigger; but perhaps a bit more mature (which is hard to tell with Arbequina).  What do you think? 

December 09, 2011

 

Chuno

 

             12.09.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.58 grams weight

             12.02.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.63 grams weight

             11.25.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.72 grams weight

             11.18.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.75 grams weight

             11.11.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.71 grams weight

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

Do you recall how the ancient Inca made freeze dried potatoes (chuno)?  They would lay the potato crop out in the sun, let them heat up and evaporate water during the day, stomping on the potatoes to speed things along; and then leave them out to lightly freeze overnight, which separated the solids from the water.  Repeat until done.  Well, the same thing is happening to the olives: they are losing water by day while getting close to freezing at night.  Strangely enough, the olive trees themselves also stop the up-take of water from the ground during cold spells too; then the trees themselves withdraw water from the olives.  (And that I have seen happen too, especially in fall planted trees when I deliberately withhold water to harden them off.)

 

So, there you have it.  Somewhat freeze dried olives, maybe still good for milling (but not for table olives) or potentially drying, but getting even more marginal looking:

November 20, 2011

 

Custom Milling for the Reken Estate 

 

This year the Reken Estate had more than enough fruit for a mill run, so we did a custom milling run just for them.  A potentially damaging storm to the olives (temperatures less than 28 F) was moving in, so we decided to get at least some of the fruit turned into olive oil. 

 

Sad to say, the fruit was really too green, the paste was very mealy and dry.  So, for the first time we added water to the malaxation.  This may or may not have been a good idea, as also for the first time we had an emulsion forming between the olive oil and the water. 

 

Not a good thing.

 

Also, the olive paste jammed up the paste pump!  As best I can tell, too much ground up pit, and very little "paste" is about the same as trying to run some gravel, sand and water through the machinery. 

 

The bottom line?  The larger story is over on OregonOliveOil.com, but the bottom line is a very low yield of very biter (ah... bitter!) olive oil for the Reken Estate.  Hey, now there is a name for the olive oil:

 

    "Biter Olive Oil - the one with the biggest bite!"

 

                                       >>> A hardy Oregon olive picker >>>

November 25, 2011

 

Community Milling  We did have some people signed up for community milling, but very unfortunately they got frosted out back in October.  But we had been saving enough of our own fruit to "fill in" a mill run as needed, so we went ahead and did a milling with our own fruit.

 

Pendolino - with just a touch of color this year...

December 02, 2011

 

Freeze dried olives

 

             12.02.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.63 grams weight

             11.25.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.72 grams weight

             11.18.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.75 grams weight

             11.11.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.71 grams weight

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

The olives are definitely loosing weight now, you can see the shriveling and wrinkling:

Ah well, welcome to farming!  The good news is: what went down in 2011, the temperature, must come back up.  We all hope the trend starts in 2012!

 

December 16, 2011

 

End of the olive season  We are almost done.  The olive tree nursery is settled into winter quarters, the olive trees have all been picked (except the Arbequina: we dedicated those five trees to Science this year - and nobody had the heart to pick such small olives), and the olives processed into table olives and olive oil.  So, time to call it quits for the year, after a little reflection. 

 

The next big event for us will be selling olive trees in the month of April, and I hope to meet some more of you readers then!

 

This years production of olive oil: about two liters.  And for the first year ever, we made table olives as well as olive oil, and ran the olive mill for two runs.  Continual gradual relentless improvement is all we expect here at Oregon Olives!

Regardless, The End of the Season is well nigh upon us.  We are warily watching a cold front scheduled to come through this weekend, with snow at elevations only slightly higher than we are.  But, bold as brass, right now the plan is to stick to The Plan, and harvest over the Thanksgiving weekend!

 

 

November 13, 2011

 

Bird Attack!  The pinot noir is all out of the fields, but the bird packs are even bigger.  Here is one such swarming our olive grove.  Fortunately, birds don't think our olives are food, and there was not a speck of bird damage (some free "nutrients" landed on Carmen, our intrepid photographer, but the olives were absolutely untouched).  If this doesn't convince you that olives don't have the kind of bird damage grapes do, well I don't know what will...

Well, this time we didn't add additional water… ah, an even bigger mistake!  The olive paste jammed up the paste pump again!  As best I can tell, too much ground up pit and very little oil and water is about the same as trying to run some gravel and sand through the machinery.  Even worse than when it had the additional water.

 

Well, when all was said and done, we ended up with a bunch of olive oil, emulsion and waste water to deal with.  sort of exactly what the old "two phase separation" that happened in olive oil presses used to be like (careful here.  I am talking about what I got being similar to what came out of the old time presses that squeezed the "olive juice" (oil + water) out of the pomace):

Latest Arbequina data:

 

             11.25.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.72 grams weight

             11.18.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.75 grams weight

             11.11.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.71 grams weight

             11.04.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.74 grams weight

             10.28.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.69 grams weight

             10.21.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.66 grams weight

             10.14.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.65 grams weight

             10.07.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.62 grams weight

             09.30.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.56 grams weight

             09.23.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.55 grams weight

             09.16.11  100 Arbequina olives average 0.45 grams weight

 

Ah, pretty obvious now that we are never gonna reach last year's average size of  0.90 gm.  Gonna have to think on the implications of that and put it in the year end roundup...

As you can see, in each of the three half gallon jars there is a layer of olive oil floating on top of a layer of oil+water emulsion floating on top of a layer of water+olive solids.  Ain't High School Physics great?!

 

Well, I guess I am sort of glad that we didn't really do a "Community Milling Day".  Gonna take a while for time and me and Isaac Newton to sort this all out…

 

Also notice the tiny bottle of McEvoy olive oil at the bottom left, for comparison.  Carmen won this from McEvoy Ranch for correctly identifying some Nocellara del Belice olives in a online contest McEvoy Ranch had.  Just another sign we are the leading Nocellara del Belice growers.  Go Oregon go!

 

For more pictures on making olive oil in 2011, see OregonOliveOil.com

December 18, 2011

 

Last thoughts of the 2011 olive season  A cool growing season is not good for olives growing in Oregon.  As a one sentence summary, that pretty much says what is important to say!

 

We have two "cold" problems in the PNW for olives, not just one.  The more obvious of the two is the low cold temperatures during the winter that do damage to the trees.  This year we really didn't have such a bad winter, all in all the trees came through pretty good, set a lot of fruit, and grew well.

 

However, we did have the second sort of "cold" problem: a very cool and short summer.  The olives were the latest blooming I have seen in the seven seasons I have been growing olives, and at harvest were the least ripe.

 

There is a test of maturity for green table olives (which are harvested before olives for olive oil).  When you squeeze a good sized olive with medium pressure, a white milky "sap" should come out as you crush the olive. 

 

This year, I wasn't really able to do that until December.

 

Supporting data.  From WineBusiness.com, growing degree days in the north Willamette Valley for 2011 were 2078, while for comparison in 2009 there were 2496:

From the ColumbianNewspaper the actual number of days where Portland reached 60 F was only 169: a new record for a minimum at the airport:

From the Fox12Weather this year was the coldest year since 1985 in northwest Oregon: