BUTTERY oils are from Spanish Mission and Tuscan Lucca olives. These oils compliment other foods and are excellent substituted in any recipe calling for butter. Fish, chicken, eggs, and tortillas are some foods that cook well with these oils instead of butter.
FRUITY oil adds flavor. The fruitiness can be mild, as in Lucca/Frantoio and Motherlode, or slightly stronger as in the Mission/Manzanillo - great on salads and for sautéing. Manzanillo literally means “little apple” in Spanish and is the most fruity and viscous oil Calaveras makes. It is excellent on meats, roasts and potatoes.
GRASSY, the last taste category is only found in the Estate Frantoio. This is a contrasting oil that adds distinction when it is needed. Very often the most peppery oil, it is exceptional on fresh tomatoes with mozzarella and in Caesar salads. “These are the famous varieties from Florence Italy I grow in my own orchard, says Ed. “Yummy, my favorite.”
Simply put, Virgin olive oil is the fresh, natural oil squeezed from the olive fruit immediately after harvest (First Cold Press). In that simplicity lies the benefit of perhaps one of man’s oldest and healthiest foods. Since olive oil is derived by crushing and pressing tree ripened olives, it contains fresh fruit fibers with all the natural nutrients, enzymes and flavors of that fruit. Therefore the best oil comes ONLY from fruit matured to ripeness on the tree.
In California most of the older, commercial olive orchards produce varieties primarily used for canning or the table industry. These olives typically are “thumb” sized fruit that produce good but not distinctive oil. Since canning industry olives are harvested unripe, most large, commercial producers make oil from culls or rejected small fruit that has not yet ripened. As in quality wine making, the best product comes from fruit grown and harvested exclusively for oil.
Calaveras Olive Oil “Tuscan” comes from smaller fruit varietals from small orchards planted within the last 10 years. Varieties imported personally by owner Ed Rich from the Mediterranean. “I only produce Extra Virgin grade oil which is the most difficult grade to make”, says Ed. At Calaveras Olive Oil all fruit is 100% California grown, hand picked at optimum ripeness and cold pressed within 24 hours of harvest. Smaller orchards typically contain several minor varieties along with a dominant variety to insure cross pollination, and are seldomly, if ever, sprayed with pesticides. Therefore “blend” is added to the label to indicate the presence of minor varieties. “NO OTHER oils or ingredients go into my oil,” explains Ed.
Some oils are produced in limited quantities. Olives are considered “alternate” bearing crops, which means heavy crops are followed by light crops. Because of this some years the entire production of Tuscan oils may be less than 55 gallons. Therefore supplies of certain varieties may be very limited.