Enjoying Pacific Sun Olive Oils / 2016 Harvest Tehama Blend
An Oil of Great Character
This year, among the very good olive oils we made, Tehama Blend is the one that seems to me the most achieved. It’s an olive oil of great character and unusual vividness.
Picual and Mission Shine with Proper Milling Techniques
Also, it’s an interesting case in terms of its two cultivars, Picual and Mission (present in the blend in equal parts), which have come into their own just recently with proper milling techniques.
Picual is an Andalusian cultivar. Its presence in Southern Spain is enormous. Picture that just the province of Jaen alone makes approximately 20–25% of the olive oil of the entire world and almost 90% is Picual. When mass made, with no care, with over-ripe olives and milled with high temperatures (an extended practice to maximize yields), Picual tends to have initial degrees of fermentations and can be very unpleasant.
In the past, Mission, our Californian variety, was not seen with much esteem either. Most of the olive oils made out of it were unpleasantly bitter or plain flat and often with not elegant aromas and short shelf lives.
Overcoming Past Problems
People, in both cases, blamed the cultivars as if any oil made with them would have this type of negative outcome.
In both cases, as I often state, cultivars were innocent. It was what was done with them (and by the way, the same applies to 100% of cultivars that are suitable for olive oil production though not for all cultivars that are more suitable for table olives production).
New technology, new understandings and a careful approach have changed drastically the possibilities for these type of varieties (the same has happened with other cultivars, as with Coratina and Ogliarola in Puglia).
One of This Year’s Fantastic Olive Oils
Make no mistake, milling these cultivars with careful techniques achieves olive oils of excellence.
All the above mentioned cultivars have in common a genetic trace: they have a high polyphenol count.
Until recently, this blessing could not be profited from and it was seen rather as a problem, for it gave too bitter olive oils.
The appearance of crushers that replaced hammer-mills and do a gentler crushing, as the one we have at Pacific Sun Farms, was of great help to treat these varieties with much better results.
Then, the understanding of the role of temperatures used in the milling (working under 76F protects fresh aromas, what we call “green” fruitiness) and the adverse effects of prolonged malaxation helped as well to start making altogether different olive oils.
Harvesting them with optimal ripeness (actually, when olives are mostly green), is key too.
Once all the latter comes into play, along with strict hygiene and filtration, excellent olive oils from Picual and Mission can be produced.
Robust Flavor and High in Antioxidants
Both cultivars, when made carefully, share an organoleptic profile of tomato vine scents and herbaceous notes. They do have an assertive bitterness, as it’s the case of our Tehama blend this year. It’s a nice, clean bitterness (“olive” bitterness), as opposed to a harsh, tannic, medicinal bitterness. This means that when paired with the proper food the oil acts as an extraordinary condiment of great freshness. Also, it’s worthwhile noting that both bitterness and pungency are present in olive oil as a manifestation of the presence of powerful antioxidants occurring naturally in olive oil. Having a good polyphenol (antioxidant) count will also provide a good shelf life for this olive oil and makes it a superfood. Among our different blends, Tehama Blend is among the ones with a higher polyphenol count and this manifests itself in its piquancy.
Authentic Characteristics of the Olives
When I mentioned that I thought that Tehama Blend was the most achieved from among our olive oils milled in the recent season, it was because among the positives I already described, it expresses the true characteristics of both Picual and Mission varieties. Last week I presented this olive oil in the seminar where I taught in New York City. Both participants and the other teachers received it enthusiastically, noting that they were not used to such good olive oils made out of Mission olives.
Tehama Blend has multiple uses in the kitchen. Given its robust intensity, it’ll do better with red wine dishes. It’ll be great on beans, poultry and red meat, it’ll enliven guacamoles and hummus, and will do particularly well with tomato dishes. These can be of raw tomatoes, tomato sauces in pastas and tomato soups, as the gazpacho so typical and beloved in Spain (and making lycopene, the antioxidant present in tomatoes, more bio-available to us). It can be use also as a contrasting element in boiled potatoes or drizzled over creamy cheeses as mozzarella or burrata. When added to butternut squash soups or purées it’ll add depth to them, cutting through the sweetness of the dish.
Let us offer here a root vegetable soup that you can try these days, since these vegetables are in season:
Roasted Root Vegetable Soup
½ cup Tehama Blend Olive Oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 carrots cut into thick rounds (though carrots are at their peak in the late fall, some varieties are winter-y)
1 large parsnip, cubed
2 leeks, thickly sliced
1 onion, quartered
3 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
3 rosemary sprigs
5 cups of vegetable stock
Extra Tehama Blend Olive Oil for drizzling at the end
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- Put Tehama Blend Olive Oil into a large bowl. Add the vegetables and toss until coated in the oil.
- Spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet. Tuck the herbs among them.
- Roast for 50 minutes or until tender. Turn them from time to time, to assure even browning.
- When done, remove and discard the herbs.
- Place the vegetables in a large pan, add the stock and bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat, season to taste and simmer for 10′.
- Blend the soup until thick and smooth.
- Garnish with a sprig of thyme and drizzle with Tehama Blend Olive Oil
You can try some variations of this soup with winter squash (replacing the butternut squash or the carrots) or adding celeriac (just one piece), or using potatoes or turnip instead of the parsnip.