A Primer On the Arbosana Olive – A Little Olive That Makes a Robust Olive Oil

Last week we took a close-up look at the Arbequina olive, one of three olive varietals we grow in northern California. Next up: the Arbosana olive. Like Arbequina, the small Arbosana olive hails originally from Spain. But it delivers a more robust flavored olive oil – one that pairs well with everything from bruschetta to chocolate.

Our Arbosana extra virgin olive oil is one of two single varietal olive oils that we produce, along with our Arbequina. Our other oils, like our Everyday Fresh and Miller’s Blend, are olive blends.

The Arbosana olive is our No. 2 olive, accounting for 19% percent of the 12,000-plus acres of trees we have under cultivation. (Arbequina accounts for 78%.) Arbosana also is California’s No. 2 olive crop.

Like Arbequina, we plant our Arbosana trees using a special system: The trees are spaced much more closely together than in a traditional olive grove. That allows us to harvest the olives more quickly and rush them to the mill to make the oil.

A 2009 report from the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, found that Arbosana accounts for 16% of California’s olive acreage that’s planted using the same type of planting system we use.

The green Arbosana olive may be small, but it’s a productive producer of olive oil. It typically begins producing oil after two years.

Our Arbosana olive oil is a more complex, robust tasting oil than our Arbequina, which is more delicate. And while Arbequina delivers flavors of tropical fruit and fresh artichoke, our Arbosana delivers flavors of fresh tomato and almonds.

We like to drizzle our Arbosana on bruschetta with a fresh grinding of black pepper. We like it drizzled on soup, too, or a grilled ribeye steak. And we use our Arbosana oil for all things chocolate, like chocolate mousse. It’s also good in almond biscotti.

Other than flavor, how do the Arbequina and Arbosana olives differ?

“The Arbosana variety has fruit that looks very much like Arbequina, but matures about three weeks later,” writes olive oil expert Paul Vossen, farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County.

And while the Arbosana olive is fairly hardy against cold weather, it’s not as hardy as Arbequina.

Next up: the Koroneiki olive.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch