Tuesday, Oct. 21, was spent tasting California’s best olive oils at a workshop hosted by Maia Hirschbein, olive oil educator from California Olive Ranch. Maia was an engaging speaker who has spent years learning about this fruit. In fact part of her Master’s research in Food Culture and Communications (University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont Italy) involved a comprehensive study of California olive oil. She is committed to demystify and educate about the green gold. This is a quick overview of her presentation. The olive producers in attendance were Farmer Al Courchesne from Frog Hollow Farm and Jonathan Sciabica from Sciabica & Sons.

We started the evening with this comment from Maia — “The olive is the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil is a fruit juice.” From there, we reviewed the history of olive production in California, describing location of major olive groves in the valleys of central California where the tree is best suited to a dry Mediterranean climate. Next, olive varieties were discussed such as Mission, the original variety cultivated in California since Spanish colonization and other commercial varieties like Sevillano, Manzanillo and Arbosana. As we discovered there is now a much greater diversity of olives in California than in the past which means more interesting oils available to the consumer. The harvest takes place from about mid-September to the end of November either manually (such as done at Frog Hollow) or by mechanical harvesters. Depending on the variety, olives may be picked green, green-purple or entirely purple to black and blended with other varieties. Good coordination is required to ensure rapid transport to the mill after harvesting to quickly extract the oil. That is, the quality and taste of the oil is not o0nly dependent on olive variety and ripeness but on other factors such as the terroir (soil and weather conditions), method of extraction, storage and the style of the producer. After all extra virgin oil is simply “pressed fruit juice without additives” so therefore must be handled with a healthy respect.

With this introduction over, the tasting began. We were given 1oz servings of six different oils, California Olive Ranch, Bariani, Frog Hollow, Sciabica and McEvoy with the addition of mystery oil. Farmer Al provided two samples from his orchard, an early harvest fresh pressed that day and late harvest olive oil for our tasting. In between tastes, we cleansed the palate with sparkling water. Maia instructed us how to warm the cup in our hand while covering the top with the other hand and swirling gently to release the aromas. The first step in tasting is to smell the oil and note the aroma. Descriptions may be fruity, nutty and herbaceous. The next step is to take a slurp and inhale the oil. This allows the oil to be sprayed across the mouth and on the tongue, releasing more aromas. Other detailed descriptors can be used such as avocado, unripe banana etc. Lastly the oil is swallowed and the taste is noted in the back of the throat, peppery and pungent are some descriptors here. Maia provided an Olive Oil Tasting Wheel that we used as a guide. In  general, the greener the olive the more pungent and peppery at the back of the throat along with varying bitterness in the mouth. Our mystery oil was quite different from the rest of the pack starting with its “winey” scent, it carried rancid notes on the tongue after swallowing, quite unpleasant. The key question to ask yourself is, do you enjoy the taste of the oil, does it appeal to your tastebuds?

We then paired these oils with foods such as cooked beet greens, cooked beets, diced tomatoes, fromage blanc and raw pea shoots and let our taste buds do the talking.  Every oil with its unique flavor profile had a different effect on the flavors of each dish. I particularly enjoyed Frog Hollow oil on the fromage blanc - the cheese seemed to jump and become ever so sweet and other tasters had the same experience. The tomatoes with salt welcomed almost any oil. As for the beet greens, cooked beets and pea shoots, those foods tasted best paired with a robust olio Nuevo.

After doing this guided olive oil tasting tour, I have learned that we have an incredible and delicious array of local California olive oils to choose from.  I no longer fear buying my next bottle of oil because I’m unsure whether or not it will please me. I now know how to appreciate and savor the oil, how to store (in the dark, away from heat) and how to buy the freshest oil based on the bottled harvest date all important factors to enhance your olive oil experience.

In fact, I feel I can better appreciate olive oil more than ever and look forward to not only pairing with foods but doing more baking, cooking and even frying with my oil. But the big question is, will I have enough Frog Hollow Olive Oil to last through the winter? I hope so.

Dr. Foodie, Guest blogger.


We started picking our olives October 16th, 2014 - an all-time record early harvest for us. The Leccinos, first of our four varieties to ripen were black. Leccinos comprise 25% of our trees and this variety ripens all fruit on the tree concurrently. Maurinos, which are only 5% of our trees, ripen fruit late, so their fruit is solid green when picked. Pendolinos are mostly ripe when picked. The Frantoios, making up 60% of our trees are ½ purple and ½ green at picking time. Remember… We’re picking all these trees, which are planted together in rows in the above ratios, at the same time. When taken to the mill for milling and pressing, the blend of flavors and different ripeness of these four varieties will already be blended in the picking bins.

The dominant flavor profile is in the Frantoios, which is one of the most widely planted olives worldwide used for oil. It has a great balance of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency. The Pendolinos are unusually sweet for an olive. So at 10% of the blend its sweetness is a counterbalance to the grassy qualities of the Frantoio. Leccinos offer sweetness and spice to the Tuscsan blends.

While most other olive growers in California are now using mechanical harvesting equipment to pick their olives, we still do it the old-fashioned way, all by hand. And, our trees are big. Most are 15-20 feet high with dense heavy growth all around the perimeter. To pick, we often have to actually cut the uppermost branches off and bring them down to harvest on the ground. So the orchard at harvest time is a scene of devastation, with just picked branches lying on the ground. The once towering trees are now slightly truncated. But we’ve got to get the olives off somehow, so we cut the highest branches down. But this is actually just a way of pruning the trees which we do anyway immediately following harvest. In two months we won’t even notice the difference. These trees love it here and their re-growth is a wonder to behold.

After hand-picking our olives, we transport them straight to McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA, where they are cold-pressed in to a precious, bold-flavored, grassy oil. Our olio nuovo has now arrived at the farm and we are moving fast to get it to you as soon as possible.

Chef Becky first started working on her own fruit cake recipe nearly 11 years ago. Her motivation? An abundance of Frog Hollow Farm's sweet, sun-dried fruit and the nagging unpleasant memories of bright green-colored, candied "whatever-it-was" fruit cake from her childhood. "Every year we’d get a fruitcake at Christmas time – sent from some well-meaning relative. I would look at it and wonder, why," says Chef Becky in her blog post. Her final product has become a Holiday-time favorite among customers since it was first introduced 10 years ago.

Frog Hollow Farm fruit cake is traditional in that it has plenty of alcohol, dark Rum in this case and are best after we have allowed them to sit for three weeks to a month in our kitchen before being sold. Otherwise the cakes are too “hot” with rum that will overpower the flavor and make the texture a little boggy. Becky always wanted to keep the cake small because "a little goes a long way" and the cake is still very rich. Frog Hollow Farm's fruit cake is made with our own sulfur-free dried peaches, dried cherries and candied orange peels (made in our farm kitchen). The fruit and walnuts are soaked in rum over night before making these cakes. Then, the leftover rum from the macerated fruits is added to a batter and is sprinkled over the cakes as they come out of the oven. When cool, they are wrapped in cheesecloth that has been soaked in rum. Yes - lots of rum in those cakes.

Chef Becky recommends pairing the cake with a cuppa coffee and a slice of Warren pear. Divine!

If you remember the fruit cake from years gone by, then we know you're a fan already. But if you're new to Frog Hollow Farm, then this is a fine piece of cake you will fall in love with at the very first bite.

Let's get straight to the point. We have all done our research on how to buy extra virgin olive oil so here are four simple reasons we think you should order extra virgin olive oil from Frog Hollow Farm. We make our olive oil from olives we harvest in our 143-acre organic fruit orchard in Brentwood, CA. Our oil is certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. So here goes! 

1. Good oil comes from great olives: This is a given, right? Olives are stone fruits - like peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums and they need to be harvested at optimal ripeness to derive the best olive oil. At Frog Hollow Farm, we have wowed customers for decades with our legendary tree-ripened stone fruits and our olives are no exception. After a trip to Italy with Becky, Farmer Al planted Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino and Pendolino olive trees in our orchard. We have spent years perfecting oil that has the full-bodied perfume of the fruit from which it is made. It has bright, grassy tasting notes with a bold and vivid, peppery flavor.

2. Certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council: While you may be inclined to believe that European olive oil is superior in quality to what comes out of California, it may be interesting for you to note that according to blogger Jan Bills of Let There Be Bite, “The California Olive Oil Council‘s evaluation criteria are stricter than those of the International Olive Oil Council and call for a 0.5% oleic acid (monounsaturated fat) content to the IOOC’s 0.8%. (The lower the fatty acid content, the lower the chance of rancidity).” Frog Hollow Farm’s olive oil has been certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. This means, it has a nice fruity flavor, with no taste “defects” and its quality reflects the great care we take along the production process.

3. Greater health-boosting antioxidants: Frog Hollow Farm’s extra virgin olive oil is made from a blend of perfectly ripe black and green olives harvested from our olive grove during the brief harvest window. While green olives don’t yield as much oil, they are higher in health-boosting anti-oxidant properties. We harvest our olives at different stages of development to get the perfect balance of flavors and health benefits - a ratio that has been perfected by olive growers in Tuscany over many years.

4. Not refined and certified organic: The process of refining involves using chemical solvents and high heat to neutralize the tastes of oil made from oxidized, less than perfect grade of olives. At Frog Hollow Farm, our extra virgin olive oil does not undergo any chemical refining. We take ample care in growing and harvesting our olives so all we have to do is grind them (in a process is known as “maceration”) and bottle the extracted oil. The flavors are rich and authentic. Like all our fruit, our olives are certified organic too.

Author: Pearl Driver
Pearl is the Marketing Director at Frog Hollow Farm. She is a digital marketing expert. Before joining Frog Hollow Farm, Pearl worked as a journalist and as Website producer. She brings a combination of creative thinking and knowledge of the Web to Frog Hollow. Her favorite fruits from the farm are the O’Henry peach and the Flavor King pluot. She loves good food and like to experience foods from different nations and cultures. She loves to cook with a variety of ingredients and experiments often with fruit from the farm in her own, home kitchen.

Have you tried cutting in to a juicy peach, especially a cling stone, in the hope that the stone at its center would come right off without creating a royal mess of the fruit itself? I did! Every single time but in vain! Over the years, my disdain for cutting up any cling stone fruit only grew stronger as I dreaded losing out on most of the fruit’s juice in the process. This was before Frog Hollow Farm co-owner Sarah Coddington left a pouch on my office desk.

On the pouch was a handwritten note from Sarah that read, “Ask me about it.”

But before I could get back to my desk, Sarah got to me! She was so excited to show me what was in the pouch that she walked me back to my deskright away. Her excitement was palpable and 100% infectious. When I opened the pouch, I discovered an 8GB memory card. Of course, at this point, my curiosity knew no bounds. What was on this card??? We waited anxiously as the computer loaded up the program to reveal the contents of the memory card. And there it was – on a memory card — my very own “Eureka” moment. Of course, I didn’t run out of a bath tub like Archimedes did, but the two-minute video that was on there, changed how I had felt about cling stone fruit my entire life.

The video features University of Pennsylvania tropical ecologist (and distinguished UC Berkeley alum) Daniel Janzen sharing a quick and easy two-step method to pitting cling stone fruits. In the video, he holds a Frog Hollow Farm nectarine and reveals a technique likely dating to our Pleistocene ancestors, and illuminates the ecology of the ancient large mammals and their progeny that still share our earth. Janzen's effective swipes of the knife belie over a half-century studying the co-evolution of plants, insects, people, and other animals.

So go on, watch this video and cut open your very own cling stone fruit and be proud of what you’ve accomplished!

Read more about Janzen and his work at, ; and

Author: Pearl Driver

Pearl is the Marketing Director at Frog Hollow Farm. She is a digital marketing expert. Before joining Frog Hollow Farm, Pearl worked as a journalist and as Website producer. She brings a combination of creative thinking and knowledge of the Web to Frog Hollow. Her favorite fruits from the farm are the O’Henry peach and the Flavor King pluot. She loves good food and like to experience foods from different nations and cultures. She loves to cook with a variety of ingredients and experiments often with fruit from the farm in her own, home kitchen.

Do you remember that feeling of biting into a peach and being completely surprised by how sweet and juicy it is? That's how I recall my first taste of a Cal Red peach, nearly 35 years ago! Since then, our association has come a long way; it is now my favorite peach from the different varieties we grow at Frog Hollow. This beloved fruit is in a class by itself - a true "Oh my God" peach. In fact, it was the Cal Red that made Frog Hollow Farm famous.

These peaches put Frog Hollow Farm on the map of California peach growers way back in 1977 when all we had was an acre of Cal Red peaches. We were a U-pick operation back then and people would line up outside our little farm-stand in Brentwood with buckets in both hands to pick as much as they could. The word soon spread and we started getting orders from local grocery stores that wanted these peaches; this was the first peach they asked for by name. Everyone wanted the Cal Reds and thus was born a new chapter in the history of our small, family-owned operation. Now, we have customers asking for Cal Red peaches from all across the country - even Alaska and Hawaii!

What makes the Cal Red so memorable to discerning peach lovers across the United States is its low acidity and naturally sweet flavor. Aptly named after the Golden State, the Cal Red is a beautiful golden peach marked with a gentle, sun-kissed blush. They have a dense flesh and firm texture.

I hope you get your hands on some of these amazing peaches soon.

Organically yours,


Anthony Jones, the founder and Executive Chef for 8FIFTEEN and his wife Gabby moved to the Bay Area from Brooklyn a couple years ago to get a fresh start. 8FIFTEEN” is a reference to the day that Anthony and Gabby met. Gabby and Anthony met on August 15, 2003, during the two-day blackout that struck New York and much of the Eastern seaboard. It was a magical day when everyone took a break and hung out with friends. Without electricity, many restaurants were forced to grill up food on barbecues and give it away to the public.  It was a day of camaraderie and love built around food, friends and beer.


Anthony had been working as an Attorney in New York but with the move to the west coast he decided to take a leap and follow his passion in food. While he and Gabby were making the journey to the West Coast they came up with Sandwich manifesto, which details the making of the perfect sandwich. From this manifesto, the beginning of a career and a dream was born - 8FIFTEEN.


8FIFTEEN started as strictly sandwiches. The business gained recognition by selling at various farmers markets and fairs within the Bay Area. The first market that 8FIFTEEN took part in was the Kensington Farmer’s Market where they learned how to prep ingredients ahead of time and were able to test their products. Since Kensington, 8FIFTEEN has been a part of multiple Farmers Markets and fairs including: Alameda Point Antiques Fair, Treasure Island Flea Market, and the Patchwork Show in Oakland. With great demand for their product to be available on a more regular basis, 8FIFTEEN has partnered with Rapha Cafe where they sell their sandwiches pre-packaged.


Knowing that 8FIFTEEN has experience packaging their products and has the ability to make amazing things happen with seasonal ingredients, we asked them if they could try their hand in preparing salads for Frog Hollow Farm Café. They eagerly accepted the challenge and came up with some amazing products. For the past several months Anthony and his team have been working hard to develop salads to be served exclusively at Frog Hollow Farm’s retail location in the San Francisco Ferry Building. The salads are inspired by classic recipes but have a modern twist. They are artfully composed highlighting Frog Hollow Farm ingredients with bright and robust flavors. We can’t wait for you to try them!


There will be three salads to hit the shelves next Wednesday (7/23). First we have the Spiced Egg salad that will be served as an entrée. The 8FIFTEEN version is not your average egg salad. It is made with Frog Hollow Farm extra virgin olive oil, little gem lettuce, parmesan croutons, cilantro, lime, and topped with Frog Hollow Farm tomatoes. This is a nourishing vegetarian option filled with protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Next we have two side salads that can either be eaten as a snack or enjoyed alongside Frog Hollow Farm’s delicious empanadas for a satisfying lunch. The lentil beet salad has pickled onions, parsley and Frog Hollow Farm dried apricots and is drizzled orange vinaigrette. Another side salad option is the grilled corn salad with legendary Frog Hollow Farm peaches, poblano peppers from our up and coming vegetable garden at the farm and some feta cheese. Anthony will be offering tastings of the new salads at the Café on Friday, July 25th from 11am-1pm. So do come by and meet the chef!

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