Last fall’s olive harvest was the most successful in our history. We’ll begin bottling this excellent extra virgin olive oil shortly. We’ll then start shipping it to stores. The oil should begin appearing on shelves over the next few months – though it’s precise availability at a store near you will depend. That said, let me explain how we’ve been preparing this oil for bottling – so you can enjoy it with your meals.
Our fall crop yielded a boatload of great olive oil. The dedication and professionalism of our ranchers played a big role. We also got a big assist from Mother Nature. We had an early spring, meaning the olive’s development was early. With the earlier season and ideal growing conditions, the trees were at their peak production when we started our harvest last October.
Before bottling this excellent crop, my colleagues and I have been taking steps to make sure the oil is ready. In a nutshell, we remove the olive fruit particles and other solids from the oil. We do this by monitoring the oil’s clarity in our storage tanks on a weekly basis. Once the heavier particles have naturally settled to the bottom of the tanks, the clearer oil is transferred to a new storage vessel. Every tank in our facility goes through this process – called “racking” – until the oils appear cleared of sediment.
Those fruit particles – similar to pulp in orange juice – can enhance the taste and flavor of the oil. That’s what helps make our Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil taste so great. We bottle that oil immediately, without letting it go through the natural settling process. But, over time, those same fruit particles eventually ferment. Consequently, our Limited Reserve is dated on the bottle to be used more quickly than our other oils.
The majority of our other oils go into a temperature-controlled storage facility where they’re kept at 72 degrees, free from light and oxygen exposure. Monitoring these oils for clarity is critical. Oils containing the sediment for long periods will deteriorate in flavor, because of fermentation. That’s why we rack the oils: to remove that sediment so it won’t damage the oil’s lifespan or quality.
We’ll rack the oil from tank to tank periodically. And, depending on the olives of a particular harvest year, the racking process can occur several times. Once the oil has been fully racked, our bottled oil has a two-year shelf life.
While I can assure you our 2014 oils taste great, there’s one thing I can’t guarantee: when you’ll see the oil on the shelf at your favorite store. Each store has different inventory levels. But keep checking for that 2014 date on the back of our bottles.
I’ll go into detail about the taste of our different 2014 oils soon. In the meantime, stay tuned!