Olive Oil Primer: What is the Arbosana Olive?

I hooked up with two colleagues recently in Denver. The weather was chilly and wet, a bit unusual for Colorado in July. But we had a great lunch at The Capital Grille. We ordered seafood – I can recommend the sea scallops with gingered rice and white miso broth. Afterward, we chatted with the executive chef: Larry Bergstein. And, during lunch, my colleagues and I talked olive oil … and olives – including the varietals we grow in northern California.What is the arbosana olive?

The topic of olives came up because I’ve been blogging about our olive varietals, starting with the Spanish Arbequina olive. I want to move on to Arbosana, another Spanish varietal we grow.

We grow three varietals: Arbequina and Arbosana, both from Spain, and Koroneiki, from Greece. We use a system known as “super high-density planting” that allows us to harvest the olives more quickly and get them to the mill to be crushed into fresh extra virgin olive oil.

Arbosana accounts for about 20 percent of the olives we grow on ranches extending in northern California from Fresno up to Corning. Arbosana is our second largest varietal after Arbequina. The latter accounts for about 70 percent of our olives.

How do these two olives differ?

“The Arbosana olive 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.

Arbosana is considered a more robust olive than Arbequina. It tastes more peppery, or pungent. It also delivers a higher level of polyphenols – the chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

And the taste? Arbosana has a fruity flavor, along with nutty tones, and medium pungency. This from our tasting notes: green tomato, almond, and green banana.

Try drizzling it over a variety of foods, from gazpacho to poached halibut.

Next up: the Koroneiki olive.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch