News From The Mill
The milling season has begun and we already made the first olive oils of this year. This is arguably the best of the last four–five autumns, weather wise, to make good olive oil. We’ve had cool nights and many cool days, the fruit has ripened properly, and rain has not been excessive. There’s an abundance of olives this year, while at the same time, costs are rising on both ends. One factor is the increase of the labor required to harvest such abundance. Another is that companies from other regions have come to our area, driving up the price per ton. I’m always sympathetic to paying higher wages to workers (pickers) and these workers work really hard. At the same time, we have to make sure we’re harvesting in the most efficient way possible.
This question was answered in Europe by adding shakers and newer machinery to the harvest process, reducing the overall expense of the harvest while still allowing for a decent wage. Here in the US, we’re approaching the limit of what the market will support in terms of the final price of olive oil. Our Olio Nuovo (‘New Oil’ in Italian, the first press of the season) is available through the Pacific Sun website. It’s a blend of Arbequina and a very green, vibrant Manzanillo.
The resultant olive oil is of medium intensity with nice pungency and fresh green aromas. We received the analysis from the lab today, and the polyphenol level of these oils is truly excellent. The count for AQ is 259 parts per million, quite high for the variety, and the Manzanillo count was 545 ppm, almost with medicinal qualities (in fact, by itself, without the gentle flavors of the Arbequina, Manzanillo is a very robust olive oil). Free fatty acids (acidity) and Peroxides (measuring oxidation) are extremely low as well. As we do every year, we’ll make all the chemical analyses of our oils public when we release them in January.
As we announced in our previous entry, we’re experimenting with something new: a cooler in which the fruit is brought to 19C (65F) when necessary. We use this when days are warm and the fruit waits to be milled. It has two purposes: one, to prevent any type of fermentation, a risk that increases with higher temperatures, and two, to obtain fresher perfumes (manifesting as green aromas, i.e. grass, artichoke, herbs, leafs, etc.), which belong to oils with healthier compositions, unlike ripe fruit perfumes.
We learned of this idea from an excellent producer in Puglia and we’re happy and proud to have such a resource in place, furthering our quest for quality. The season will be a long one. We’ll keep you posted with more news as we go. We’re already a bit exhausted — though quite satisfied — with the excellent olive oils we’re making that you can soon enjoy with us. Salud! Pablo