While much of what we do at California Olive Ranch is the result of innovating new processes, we follow traditional methods in a few cases. One of which is Olio Nuovo, or “new oil,” an Italian culinary tradition that is hundreds of years old. The name refers to the best and freshest unfiltered oil made from olives milled during the first weeks of the harvest season.
We call our “new oil” Limited Reserve. It is a specially selected batch of freshly milled extra virgin olive oil bottled in very limited quantities. You see, as the olives are being milled, after being just delivered from the ranches, our Head Miller Bob Singletary and his team of certified tasters sample each batch of oil as it flows out of the centrifuge spout. The quality and tasting notes are recorded for each batch; they’re tasting for that fresh fruit and grassiness up front, and complexities in the middle and finish. Each year, the team identifies what they believe to be the best-tasting and most unique oil; this is the oil that is then directed into special holding tanks and bottled to become our Limited Reserve.
Our Limited Reserve is bottled intentionally with olive fruit suspended in the oil. Those particles are what deliver that “burst” of fruitiness in your mouth – along with the highest degree of health benefits (by way of polyphenols) and freshness. Unlike our other oils, Limited Reserve goes straight into the bottle, instead of going through another step in which the fruit particles settle and are then removed. Those fruit particles will eventually cause the oil to go rancid quicker. The trade-off of such pungent and unique oil is its short shelf life! It’s best used within nine months of harvest – less than half that of our other oils.
But to us, the flavor of this oil is absolutely worth it. When you put a spoonful of Olio Nuovo in your mouth, you experience a peppery, fruity, pleasantly bitter burst of fresh olive oil taste. This year’s Limited Reserve is especially unique, featuring a single varietal. It is an amazing Arbosana, a medium oil with strong fruitiness featuring notes of fresh flowers and a hint of butter , a moderate bitterness and pungency at the end. As good as it is, this oil isn’t meant to be displayed on your shelves with only occasional use! Try it on steamed or fresh greens, pasta dishes, lentil salad, polenta, goat cheese, grilled or seared fish, herb salad, or your favorite soup. In Tuscany, where the tradition originates, people grill crusty bread over an open flame and douse it with Olio Nuovo for a simple, delectable lunch. However you use it, culinary history proves Olio Nuovo to be a unique and delicious culinary experience, one that now comes straight to you from California olive orchards.