As we embark on our 2022 olive harvest, we’re looking at those heavy branches, and we’re getting hungry. While Farmer Al talks about how this is the heaviest olive crop he’s ever seen, we’re dreaming of marinades, dressings, sauces and more. We can almost taste all the recipes that will be even more delicious with our Tuscan-style olive oil.
The days just before the harvest are full of anticipation. Each year’s oil is unique. We will all get together in late October to taste our new press and to identify its flavor characteristics. Until then, we continue to enjoy our 2021 extra virgin olive oil – it usually sells out in October. 2021’s olive oil is medium-robust with fruity notes of green apple and underripe banana. We also taste some nuttiness and some grassy, floral notes. 2021’s textures are buttery, waxy and light on the palate.
Have you ever wondered what’s behind the fragrance, flavor and color of Frog Hollow Farm olive oil? What makes it so delicious, nutritious and distinct, year after year? Keep reading…
Centuries of Wisdom
It all started with a vacation in 2001. Farmer Al traveled to Italy and spent time on an olive farm in Tuscany helping with their harvest. He loved the Tuscan olive oil he tasted – Italian growers had developed this wonderful blend over centuries. He came home to Brentwood and dedicated two acres of Frog Hollow Farm to olive trees. He planted four Tuscan varieties – Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, and Maurino. Each olive variety ripens at a different time, but farm crews pick them all on the same day. The mix of green (less ripe) and purple (ripe) olives is what makes this Tuscan blend so delicious (and famous).
Another Prolific Year
Our olive trees amaze us. They are massive and healthy, and they yield an incredible crop every year. Yes, you read that right: every year. This is unusual, as olive trees are known to produce a heavy crop one year and a light crop the following year. This doesn’t happen at Frog Hollow Farm because Farmer Al and our farm crews have created optimal soil conditions – some of the best soil conditions in the world. Our compost enlivens the soil with microbial life and creates resilient trees that can overcome the stress of a heavy crop.
Some sources say a mature olive tree will yield about 3 to 4 liters – about 1 gallon – of oil per year. Frog Hollow Farm olive trees each produce about 2 gallons of oil per year.
Olio Nuovo for Thanksgiving
On October 3, we set up our 12- and 15-foot ladders and started picking our olives. We do this by hand. Some of the branches are so high, we have to cut them down so we can harvest them. The olive harvest takes three weeks to complete. Every two days, we deliver giant bins of olives to McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma where workers wash the olives and send them to the cold press. The pressure of the blades on the olives produces a “first press” – this is our extra virgin olive oil. We send these vats of extra virgin to another company that bottles the oil and labels it for us. By November, our shelves are stocked again with our amazing olive oil. For the first few months, this oil is considered “Olio Nuovo,” which is Italian for “new oil", and is a seasonal delicacy.
Olio Nuovo will be ready for your Thanksgiving meals – one taste and you’ll never want to cook with anything else again.