What’s Wrong With Infused Olive Oil?

At Calivirgin our line of flavor crushed olive oils is very extensive and one comment I routinely hear from consumers when they stop by our booth or in a store is, “Oh, they have infused olive oils!” and this is one time that the customer is not always right! At Calivirgin we do not make or sell infused olive oils. Again, “At Calivirgin we do not make or sell infused olive oils!” Ha! I have a large smile on my face as I write this because if we have said this once we have said it a thousand times. I wrote a blog entry a couple of years ago explaining the difference between infused olive oils and olive oils made by crushing fresh produce and herbs by way of the agrumato method. I will not rehash that post but I will try to explain why there is a difference in the finished product. Infusing olive oils is easy.

10's of thousands of pounds of fresh California Jalapenos are used to make our Hot Virgin Jalapeno and Jalapeno-Garlic oil

10’s of thousands of pounds of fresh California Jalapenos are used to make our Hot Virgin Jalapeno and Jalapeno-Garlic oil

Anyone can take regular oil and pour essence or flavoring into it or dump a large tea bag type vessel of dehydrated dried herbs into a container of oil and flavor it. It’s so easy you can even do it yourself at home. Making infused oils like this is very cheap to do, there isn’t much labor involved, and if you sell all of the oil you made you can simply make another batch at any given time and viola’! You now have flavored olive oil that sells for far more than the regular oil would by only adding a few pennies worth of flavoring to it. It may be a great business model but can it compete on taste? Not really. Traditionally flavored olive oils have been made using substandard quality olives.  When I first started making flavors I had many people in the industry asking why we were wasting great fruit (when I say fruit I mean olives) on flavored oils.  I guess it is our companies yearning to produce the highest quality and healthiest product we can and to put our name on something we can be proud of.  Many companies will wait until late harvest when all of the olives have turned black producing a very mild or even bland tasting oil so their flavoring comes through.

Fresh Garlic crushed together for our Guilty Garlic olive oil.  Check out the impressive 2000 lb sacks!

Fresh Garlic crushed together for our Guilty Garlic olive oil. Check out the impressive 2000 lb sacks!

This is also an easy way of taking sub par olive oil or oil with taste defects, masking it with flavor and turning it into an oil the average consumer will pay top dollar for.  In waiting this long to harvest the olives; the phenols and other healthy aspects of the olive oil are reduced but more oil is made.  At Calivirgin we like to think quality is better than quantity.  We harvest our flavors at the beginning of the season when the fruit is at optimum maturity; the same time as when we harvest olives for our mono-varieites such as our arbequina evoo. There is a reason why U.S. olive oil competitions are now starting to judge flavor crushed olive oils separate from infused olive oils. There is a reason why our full line of flavored olive oils at Calivirgin have all won medals year after year at all of the major U.S. olive oil competitions that allow flavored oils to be judged, and there is a reason why at Calivirgin we spend thousands of dollars on locally sourced or high quality fresh produce to crush with our olives to make our flavored oils. I could pour chili oil into olive oil and it will make spicy oil but you would not taste the fresh green jalapeno flavor come through or even taste the olive oil like in our bottle of Hot Virgin Jalapeno. Yes, olive oil has a taste, and you should taste the produce as well as taste the olive oil when it comes to these types of oils. If you wanted chili oil then buy chili oil; it’s cheaper!
The reason most companies do not make their flavored oils this way is because of a few factors. One is cost. Buying tons of quality produce all at harvest time is a large expense that most companies would rather not bear. Sourcing and scheduling all the different herbs, vegetables and citrus we use for our flavors is not an easy task either. Coordinating

Limes used to make a lime flavored olive oil

Limes used to make a lime flavored olive oil

Local fresh basil leaves for our Bountiful Basil olive oil

Local fresh basil leaves for our Bountiful Basil olive oil

for the flavored oils is one of the most stressful parts of our harvest; after flavors are done we can seem to coast the rest of harvest making unflavored regular extra virgin olive oil. Another factor is the fact that flavor profiles of olives will change slightly from year to year as well as with the produce. It is a challenge every year to produce consistent tasting flavored oils with so many variables in the equation but a challenge I feel we have succeeded in tremendously.  As Miller I have found the nature of these flavored oils to be somewhat of a moving target. Olive oils crushed with peppers or chilies tend to get spicier with age (4-5 months) and the citrus oils tend to mellow out after a few months. Making sure every bottle tastes the same year in and year out isn’t easy but I think we have some of the most consistent oils on the market today. Finally and probably the largest challenge for producers; the equipment and olive mill. If a company doesn’t have their own equipment they will be hard pressed to talk a miller or mill into wanting to mess with making flavored oil for them. Running strong flavors like fresh garlic or jalapenos or even rosemary through your hammer mill, malaxers and centrifuges creates the potential for crossover flavors. It is imperative that you get all of one flavor out of the machines before you move on to the next one. Same goes for your transfer pumps, stainless or IBC tote containers that hold the finished oils and anything else the oils come in contact with. Cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. Since we do not filter our olive oil at

My sister Gina and I admiring the fresh basil leaves delivered for harvest

My sister Gina and I admiring the fresh basil leaves delivered for harvest

Calivirgin, after the oil has been extracted there tends to be much more sediment than with regular olive oil. We almost always rack two to three times and in some cases more. All of this adds to the labor included in making the perfect flavored olive oil.
The largest problem we have here at Calivirgin is deciding how much to make of each flavor. Our goal is to sell out of all of our oil each year with no carryover of oil into the next year. New oil is good; old oil is bad. It is with this mentality that we ultimately sell out of certain flavors early each year. Since we can’t make a batch of flavored oil on the fly at any point in the season the trick is to make enough of each flavor to meet the demand without having too much excess creating the problem of having old oil. We sell to many companies who either sell our oil in their fusti refillable bottle type stores or who private label the oil under their own label for resale. Even though we have tripled production of certain flavors every year it is inevitable that we get complaints from vendors who didn’t commit to pre-ordering oil at harvest time who are upset that we are out of our popular flavors going into the holidays and before the next seasons harvest. It is always nice to sell out but we always feel bad bearing bad news when someone orders oil we no longer have.
At Calivirgin we are very proud of the quality flavored olive oils our attention to detail and persistence produces and and we think the fact that our seven flavors have won 64 medals the past two years entering in only four of the main U.S. olive oil competitions including best of class, best of show and a silver SOFI award should prove that flavor crushed olive oils are superior to infused oils but don’t take our word for it; try a bottle for yourself and find out!!

UPDATE 4/24/2014 : This year was the first year that the Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition judged flavored olive oils separately into two categories: oils crushed using fresh produce and oils infused with flavoring. Calivirgin collected 9 medals in this 2014 competition (3 Gold, 5 Silver, 1 Bronze) but a very interesting thing happened. I noticed that for the first time there were very few flavored entries into the entire competition. Very few flavored olive oils are made by crushing fresh produce with olives so I expected there wouldn’t be many in this category but what really sparked my interest was very few oils were entered into the “infused” category when normally there are many.  I believe companies didn’t want to directly promote they simply “infused” their oils and didn’t use fresh produce. They have been implying that this is how their oils were made for years. It will be interesting if competitions continue to split the flavors. I could see them mixing them all back up because less entries means less exorbitant entry fees but that is another topic in itself!

UPDATE 10/1/2014 :  Award count for 2014 for “flavored oils only” was 1 Best of Show, 4 Best of Class, 12 Gold Medals, 9 Silver and 4 Bronze over only four competitions which allow flavored oils to be judged.

 

Ciao – Mike Coldani

 

 

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New York, Where Dreams are made of…

New York Times Square

A wise man once said, “New York, These streets will make you feel brand new;
Big lights will inspire you”

Well June was a crazy month!  Two days after I returned from our trip to Australia Julie and I left with my parents to the Big Apple.  At one point there were six suitcases of dirty clothes on my bedroom floor without any time to address them.  The 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show, North America’s largest food and beverage specialty food show, showcased over 180,000 different products from the Javits Center in New York.  I was attending with my wife and parents to work our Calivirgin booth in this massive trade spectacle.  We usually go to the west coast Fancy Food Show held in January in San Francisco but this show was easily 1/3 larger in spectators and exhibits.

Let me apologize in advance for the photos.  Julie’s camera was lost on this trip (either lost or stolen) so the only photos I have are limited to what was taken with my phone.

Summer Fancy Food Show New York

Julie holding down the fort!

This was my second time to New York and a first trip for the rest of the family.  This was also Calivirgin’s first appearance at the New York Summer Fancy Food Show.  Last time I was in New York it was pre-9/11 and in the dead of winter so the city was quite different than my first experience.  On the first day we setup and constructed our booth.  Our 10’x10’ nook is quite simple compared to some of the corporate companies that hire construction crews to set up their 600 sq.ft. spaces filled with LED lights and Plasma TV’s or fully constructed supermarket shelves and display cases.  The show looks overwhelming; actually it is overwhelming but you don’t need to be a multimillion-dollar conglomerate to have a presence there.   With the amount of retailers, wholesalers, press, restaurateurs and culinary foodies walking this show all you need is a great product that looks as good as it tastes and it will sell itself.

Campagnola Restaurant New York

Enormous plate of chicken and sausage, half order of lamb chops with greens, chefs choice pasta sampler, and fried soft shell crab

One thing about New York is there are 2-3 good restaurants on every block and 10-12 great restaurants in every district or area.  One of our more memorable dinners was at a rustic and hearty Italian restaurant in the Upper East Side called Campagnola.  Their tagline is “a country restaurant” and their traditional comfort food with 1920’s wise guy décor and a nightly pianist playing the likes of Sinatra, Dean Martin and other standards are A Country Restaurant with a modern day Soprano’s flair.  The place was packed so our reservation was wise but we did make the mistake of letting our server “just bring us some favorites” with little direction.

"Past, Present, Future, Your Dreams and Desires"

“Past, Present, Future, Your Dreams and Desires”

Mistake because we had so much food we each left with boxes to go and we were still stuffed to the brim.  The trade off was the food was excellent and the evening was perfect. I capped the night off with a glass of one of my favorites.  Sambuca.  They serve it with three coffee beans inside and my server told me they represented, “The Past, Present and Future of my Dreams and Desires.”

On our third night our friend Summer traveled to the city to meet up with us so we put in reservations for a popular restaurant, although we only went late night for dessert.  It was close to 10pm and there was still an hour wait and line

The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is a must try!

The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is a must try!

out the door for a table at the cozy Serendipity 3.  John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale star in the 2001 romance/comedy movie Serendipity with a famous scene where the couple share the ultra popular Frozen Hot Chocolate.  Or as they call it, Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, either way it was pretty tasty stuff! The gaudy décor of tiffany lampshades and eccentric pink and white walls seem to add to this landmark place.  On any given night there could be celebrities, former U.S. Presidents or VIP’s enjoying the experience but tonight it was just the five of us, one Frrrozen hot chocolate, Julie and Summerone peanut butter frrrozen hot chocolate

The Forbidden Broadway Sundae

The Forbidden Broadway Sundae

and a forbidden broadway sundae.  Again we ordered too much but you only live once right?  We definitely needed to walk a few New  York city blocks after this dessert but the experience was worth it.

At a show where tens of thousands of people walk by you it is interesting how you start to actually recognize and notice people from one day to the next or even one year to the next.  One passer-by that didn’t need a double take for my wife Julie and I was Chef Joe Arvin formally known as Chef Joe from Season 14 of CBS’s show BIG BROTHER.  Both being fans of the show, we were surprised we saw instead of heard Joe since his

B.B. was in the house!

B.B. was in the house!

enthusiastic loud booming voice is his moniker.  In fact Julie yelled to him from behind our booth as he passed by asking him why he was so quiet.  Chef Joe was there with fellow season contestant Jen City and season 13’s Heavy Metal Adam Poch to put on a celebrity cooking demonstration and help promote Chef Joe’s new cookbook.  I stopped by each demonstration throughout the week and the attendance was always less than stellar so the large crowd Joe accumulated as Jen City ripped chords from her electric guitar center stage was worth kudos, not to mention he instructed and served some killer crab cakes.  He also signed a cookbook for us, which made our day.  I know, we are reality TV dorks but the cookbook is a good one!

SOFI Awards

SOFI Awards Red Carpet Event

Not only were we representing Calivirgin Olive Oils in our booth but we were also there for the SOFI award show and red carpet event.  SOFI stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and a record number of 2,573 products were entered.  The Specialty Food Association describes the awards as a representation of culinary creativity across America and around the globe.  The Finalists are selected at the Specialty Food Association offices in New York City by a national panel of Sofi Awards New Yorkspecialty food retailers, foodservice professionals and journalists. The selection panel is made up of people from O The Oprah Magazine, Whole Foods Markets, Raley’s, Crate and Barrel,  Di Bruno Brothers, Pier 1 Imports, The Culinary Institute of America,  Good Morning America plus many, many, more industry professionals.

We were honored to be a SOFI finalist in the 2013 awards show for our Calivirgin Bountiful Basil flavored olive oil up against a grape seed oil and a cherry seed oil.  I have written about the agrumato process we use to make our flavored oils and we were humbled to be recognized for our passion by this esteemed award.  It was a dreamlike night and the closest thing to being at an event like the Oscars then I will ever experience.  The finalists were announced IMG_4405and we walked down the center red carpet aisle as tables of retailers, wholesalers, and industry guru’s applauded.  Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it.  The keynote speaker was internationally acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson and his opening address was wonderful.  Chef Samuelsson spoke about how the Fancy Food Show blurs the lines between the large corporate companies and the little guys who are “making peanut butter in the basement hoping they’ll be in a big retail store one day.”  Samuelsson went on to say, “That passion for making your own product isn’t something you

Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson Photo from: specialtyfood.com

can outsource,” and then asked the audience how many of them argue [over quality] at work. “If you don’t,” he said with a laugh, “you’re not passionate enough about your product.” These remarks hit home for our small family business and brought a smile to all of our faces.  Unfortunately we didn’t win the category we were up for (best oil) but we did go home with a shiny silver runner up award (its heavy too!).  The speech the winning couple gave and the fact that they left the stage to stop and literally tango dance right in front of our family before returning to their table was less modest than what I had planned if we had won and a bit of salt in the wound of disappointment but fortunately the post party was a highlight that quickly made us remember that we were all part of a Basil Olive Oil Sofispecial evening.  We celebrated at an after-party that featured recipes made with sofi finalists’ products and food provided by an array of New York restaurants.  There were about 25 restaurants serving 3-4 tapas style dishes featuring the finalist products.  Some of the creations were to die for and it ended up being a very fun evening.  After that we headed to a private after-after-party.  When in Rome, right?  We ended up burning the candle at both ends; even my father was able to stay awake for the excitement.

All in all the trip was very successful and a great time.  We will definitely be back next year as the show itself proved to be worth it being able to meet with so many retailers, stores and and industry connections.  We were also ableto take in many of the eclectic New York sights and attractions.  Julie and I even got caught in the middle of a flash mob.  Everyone around us just froze, and Julie asked me what’s going on.  Some how it instantly clicked and I said, “Flash Mob!” as I pulled her hand so we could watch from “outside of the dancing mob.”

Below are a few more photos (you can click to make them larger),  Thanks for reading or
Grazie Mille!  -Mike

IMG_4425

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

Impressive World Trade Center Memorial was a highlight of the trip

Impressive World Trade Center Memorial was a highlight of the trip

IMG_4274

central park

Bethesta Fountain in Central Park

Our bottle in the Williams - Sonoma New York Store

Our bottle in the Williams – Sonoma New York Store, only one left!

Central Park Sheep Meadow

Central Park Sheep Meadow

Central Park

Central Park

Guess Who?

Guess Who?

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The People Who Sell Olive Oil

One part of our company that often gets overlooked is our appreciation for our vendors, retailers, bloggers, chefs and restaurants.  While traveling for business or pleasure; our family tries to stop in and say Hi at as many stores as we can.  We also try to travel and have dinner at just about every restaurant that uses our oil in their kitchen at least once a year.  Many of the specialty food stores are also family owned and operated much like ourselves; and even if we have never formally met, you tend to develop a nice relationship with these companies and stores.  I invite you to read about only a few of the companies that have helped Calivirgin grow and check back to see posts on a few others.

Jeremy Wine Co.
Jeremy and Choral Trettevik
6 West Pine Street.
Downtown Lodi, CA 95240
www.jeremywineco.com

 Located right in our own backyard, Jeremy and Choral have been close friends since day one.  It was their design studio that helped sculpt the fantastic look of Calivirgin.  They enjoyed sharing and drinking wine along with the label design so much their passion created Jeremy Wine Co. 
Located in Downtown Lodi, their tasting room is a perfect place to relax and grab a glass of wine.  Giving a gift and looking for a bottle with a label that is clean and modern with wine that tastes great?  Check out their line of wines or join their wine club.
            They have also created their own following of Calivirgin Olive Oil fans in their tasting room.  When asked what their favorite use is, Choral said, “ Our favorite use for the basil oil lately is on bruschetta, but I have been using it to grill just about any vegetable and it’s sooo good!  Also – the garlic oil keeps my fingers nice & clean and not smelling like I just chopped garlic!”

We Olive, San Luis Obispo
Ray Russell
weolive.com
958 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Four out of the six Calivirgin team members are California Polytechnic Graduates so the fantastic weather and charming downtown of San Luis Obispo will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Ray opened one of the first WeOlive franchises downtown in the heart of SLO.  WeOlive stores sell many of the 200+ California produced olive oils and they only sell oils that are certified extra virgin by the C.O.O.C. www.cooc.com  You can also buy dipping dishes, tapenades, olive oil bath products, and pretty much anything else olive oil related.  Not only do you get to taste many of the oils before you buy but Ray and his employees (Many of whom are CalPoly students) are versed in olive oil and oil production and are happy to answer all of your questions.  Ray said he loves the CalPoly connection Calivirgin has and his customers enjoy buying oil from an alumni grower and producer. 

Great News! Cookware and Cooking School
1788 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
www.great-news.com

Great News Cookware and Cooking School is a fantastic place to check out if you are ever in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego.  They like to say they are the perfect blend between a home kitchen and a cooking school.  Not only do they teach you how to cook at home but their store carries hundreds of great cooking gadgets, tools and products.  You really need to check out their online calendar of cooking classes.  Classes are daily and you can sign up for a class online.  I just wish they were located closer for me to take advantage.  “We all love your product! I could put Calivirgin on anything.. Another favorite is to drizzle it on a white or margherita pizza – yum!”  Below is a recipe from kitchen Manager Jessica Rhomburg; something simple and fresh that she’s created a few times at Great News!

Rustic Baguette with Farm Fresh Balsamic Strawberries and Nutella
Yields 24 Crostini
1 ea     Good quality baguette, sliced on a bias ½ inch
4 T       Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ c       Nutella spread
1 pint   Farm fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
3 T       Calivinegar Barrel Aged Balsamic
2 T       Turbinado sugar

METHOD

Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Toss sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar, set aside. Drizzle olive oil over the sliced baguette and lightly season with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Grill bread on both sides till nice grill marks show and the bread is golden brown. Spread Nutella on each crostini and top with the balsamic strawberries.
Place on a platter and serve!

 

Con’Olio
Jeff and Tabatha Conarko
www.conolios.com
North-Arboretum Shopping Center
10000 Research Blvd, #130
Austin, TX 78759
&
South-2nd Street District
215 Lavaca
Austin, TX 78701

Jeff and Tabatha left corporate jobs to pursue a dream of opening a family owned and operated store.  The result was Con’Olio, a premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar store and tasting bar.  50+ olive oils and vinegars to taste and buy plus they offer educational classes and a monthly club.  Everything is bigger and hotter in Texas and our Calivirgin Hot Virgin Jalapeno olive oil is our biggest seller in the Con’Olio store.  Tabatha recently sent us some kind words saying, “We love to use the Jalapeno oil to cook scrambled eggs and to line my baking pans when cooking enchiladas and Jeff likes to use 2 teaspoons when making his homemade salsa!”

Market Hall Foods
5655 College Ave 
Oakland, CA 94618
www.markethallfoods.com

Market Hall Foods is located in North Oakland California in the Rockridge area.  A european style market place; Market Hall Foods is recognizable for its unique architectural design as well as the eight individual food and flower shops which open out to the sidewalk.  A one stop shop for artisan oils, vinegars, breads, pastas and cheeses to name a few.  Wether you are looking for hard to find imported products or locally produced items Market Hall Foods has it covered.  Market Hall Foods marketing & communications director Sara Feinberg was happy to share, “We love using the jalapeno garlic or the jalapeno oil for corn-on-the-cob. I also use those oils to fry my eggs in the morning. I love basil oil drizzled over a watermelon and feta salad – perfect for summer dining al fresco!”  Market Hall Foods is also a connoisseur of fresh 100% extra virgin olive oil and they stock their shelves with some of the best California grown oils available in the market today.  They even host an annual California Extra VIrgin Olive Oil Festival around the month of March where they sample food pairings, offer oil tastings and give cooking demonstrations  featuring fresh California grown olive oils.

This is only a small sample of locations who help spread the word about Calivirgin Premium Extra Virgin olive oils and vinegars.  Check back to read about some of the fine restaurants, chefs, and food blogs that also enjoy using Calivirgin olive oils.  If you are intersted in bulk oil oil or flavored oils for your restaurant or private use or you would like to carry our products in your store please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to get you more info. Click here for a link to all of our locations and our contact info.

Buddha’s Hand Citron And An Olive Oil That Brings Prosperity?

Buddha’s Hand Citron (citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) also known as the fingered citron, fragrance citron, or simply that weird lemon squid looking thing sold in some markets; is often gawked at but relatively unknown and somewhat mysterious. 

                For centuries the Buddha’s hand citron has been treasured by Japanese and Chinese cultures symbolizing prosperity, longevity and happiness.  Often popular at New Year’s , it is supposed to bring a household good fortune.  It is often used instead of flowers as a centerpiece that perfumes a room for weeks with its delightful citrus smell and a fruit with the fingers in the closed position has been said to resemble praying hands.

 I have seen them as high as $7-$14 each in some specialty stores which is quite a premium for a produce that has traditionally been a culinary misfit.  This strange fruit is relatively fleshless with a thick rind almost to the core.  Because of its properties it doesn’t produce much juice at all which left it as a source of zest for cooking.  I have also seen it shaved over fish for baking and grilled then laid over salad but both with a relatively mediocre result in taste in my opinion.  It can be candied and added to baked goods but probably the best use I have found was for infusing Vodka.  UNTIL NOW!  After hearing it symbolizes bringing good fortune, longevity and happiness who wouldn’t want to bathe with the Buddha’s Hand!  Now that is actually possible, plus I feel that what we have done at Coldani Olive Ranch is offer an abundance of cooking possibilities for the Buddha’s hand citron by making an agrumato style flavored olive oil out of it.  Introducing Calivirgin Buddha’s Hand Citron olive oil.  We use California grown Buddha’s Hand

A bin of Buddha Hand Citrons before being cut up into pieces and processed with olives

Citrons from a valley grower and created an assembly line of family members to hand cut each fruit into smaller pieces so that they would fit into the olive mill.  The Buddha’s Hand is then processed with our estate arbequina olives and the result is a unique tasting citrus flavored olive oil.  I may be going out on a limb but I have searched the world and I believe we are the first and only ones who make a flavored olive oil out of this fingered fruit.

 I am often asked what it tastes like but I am still working on a good answer.  It doesn’t taste like lemon or our Lusty Lemon olive oil.  The Buddha’s Hand olive oil has a true citrus flavor.  Tasted straight by itself, your first taste is somewhat pungent followed by the floral bouquet of citrus.  I find that it is better accompanied with foods than by itself, the citrus flavor really makes salads pop with brightness adding a nice compliment to bitter lettuce greens.  In the short time we have had it available people have told me they enjoy the flavored oil on fish or as a flavored substitute for butter in cakes and even an accent to marinade wakame seaweed salad.  I recently mixed some with garlic and a dash of paprika and coated some artichoke halves before grilling them on a BBQ and they turned out fabulous. 

As far as bathing in prosperity, longevity and happiness . . . olive oil makes a great skin moisturizer and our Calivirgin Buddha’s Hand olive oil has a nice citrus smell so lather up and perhaps this magical fruit will change your life!  That might be a stretch but I know a lot of chefs and foodies will appreciate what we have done and have fun pairing it with food in the kitchen.          

– Alla Salute!  Mike Coldani

Historical Fact Source: http://www.flavorandfortune.com/dataaccess/article.php?ID=162 D.Karp

Flavored Olive Oils, Infused Olive Oils, Crushed Olive Oils . . . What’s The Difference?

Generally speaking, flavored olive oils are oils made from olives with the health benefits and characteristics of olive oil combined with ingredient(s) other than olives which give the resulting olive oil an additional flavor.  Olive oil purists may balk at the idea of a flavored olive oil and I personally feel they do not replace the use and taste of a fresh extra virgin oil seconds after it has been milled; however they do offer a plethora of creative culinary uses beyond just dipping bread.  Many people use the term “infused” oil when talking about all flavored oils.  Consequently, many people do not realize that there are a few different ways to accomplish the task of flavoring an olive oil and that the end results are not all entirely the same.

Some Calivirgin Flavors

Infusing olive oil is achieved by adding an extract or flavoring to oil that has already been processed/milled. This method is relatively easy to do but sometimes the results are lacking.  I find that some infused oils taste artificial.  For the same reason that Grape soda doesn’t taste like fresh grapes, many infused citrus or herb flavored oils from extract tend to have an artificial taste.

The other way to “infuse” olive oil is to submerge your ingredients in the oil for a length of time until it imparts a subtle flavor to the oil.  The two tribulations with this method are the flavors can often be very subtle and you need to make sure the ingredients you add do not contain any moisture.  For this reason it is recommended to use dried herbs or produce.  An example would be the bottle of olive oil you see with fresh pieces of garlic

or herbs floating in it.  This may be fine for one or two days but the moisture in the produce can cause botulism to occur and make the consumer sick or even be fatal.

It is for these reasons that our Calivirgin flavored olive oils have all been made using a third and more labor intensive approach.  We add fresh produce and herbs  right on top of the fresh olives so that they are all crushed and processed together.   Some people call this method simply “fused” instead of infused while others refer to it as the agrumato method.  A growing term in popularity and the one used on our Calivirgin flavors is crushed.  We are essentially using the same process, settings and procedure we use for our extra virgin oil by crushing the produce and olives together.  The oil in the olives and produce are released in this process before going through a centrifuge and finisher which remove all water content and solids leaving a very aromatic and tasty natural flavored olive oil with nothing except exactly that in the bottle; oil.  This process creates some of the best tasting flavored olive oils so you have to ask yourself, “Why doesn’t every company use this method?”  Simply . . . because it is a pain.  Everything a flavor touches has to be addressed before a different oil comes in contact with it.  Cleaning out processing equipment between and after each flavor in order to not have

Fresh produce & fresh olives about to be crushed together

any crossover flavoring takes a lot of time.   This applies to cleaning bottling machines as well.  You also have to store each flavor in its own individual container which takes up room and  I also find that because of the added produce there tends to be more sediment than with plain olive oil so I need to rack it many more times than normal.  This means using transfer pumps which means cleaning transfer pumps multiple times.  It is very time consuming and most companies would rather not mess with it but I think the finished product is often exceptional in taste.  Chefs and home foodies alike enjoy creatively using these flavors as ingredients or finish oils over their dishes.  Believe me!  I understand why most companies don’t crush their flavors but sometimes a little more work pays off and here at Coldani Olive Ranch we feel our flight of Calivirgin Crushed Flavored Oils are something to be desired.

-Author Mike Coldani