Nov 012014
 

 

Brisbane QLD AU

Brisbane QLD AU

It wasn’t long ago that the Australian province of Queensland suffered record floods. Now some parts have the opposite water problem and are suffering from drought. Three months ago the areas outside of the capital city, Brisbane, were declared drought-stricken and 15 olive growers filed for Drought Relief Assistance.

While olive growers in the northern hemisphere are harvesting, growers in the southern hemisphere are looking for the fragrant, snowy-white blooms that foretell a healthy olive crop. In the drought-affected areas of Queensland the blossoms are burned and brown.

The olive growers west of Brisbane haven’t had many good crops in the last several years, but they still know they have businesses to run. With the help of other Australian olive growers the Queensland growers have several options: buy olives from other groves and press them in their own mills, harvest directly from another grower’s land and again press them in their own mills, or buy bulk olive oil from another grower and bottle it for sale under their own label. But, regardless of these options lots of money in wages, equipment, pest management, etc. are lost daily.

While Queensland growers wait for November rains (good) or el Nino (bad) at least they have some financial relief in sight. I am hoping they get just the right amount of rain.

Here’s a run down on what the Australian Drought and Rural Assistance Program provides:

  • Income support
  • Farm finance
  • Farm management deposits
  • Tax measures
  • Financial counseling
  • Drought loans
  • Water infrastructure investment
  • Community support
  • Pest management
  • Interest rate subsidies

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Jun 132013
 

Thanks to climate change growing olives for olive oil is spreading quickly. Along with the commercial growing of olives is the need for trained millers.

If you want your olives to have a fighting chance to be bottled and sold as extra virgin olive oil you have less than 24 hours to mill your olives. Of course, there are many other factors to this simplistic formula, BUT I know where you can go to learn all about milling olive oil properly and well.

The University of California at Davis is conducting its 2013 Master Milling Short Course October 3rd through 5th. The instructor is a fantastic miller, Leandro Ravetti.

Leandro is among the world’s top experts in olive oil production.   He is the technical director of Australia’s Boundary Bend Limited whose success is guided by thorough economic, chemical and sensory analysis to maximize production efficiency and oil quality. Leandro’s expertise guides Boundary Bend to top awards at international olive oil competitions.

Here is the link to the course. Don’t forget to sign up early so you can take advantage of the discount.

Also, check out the new UC Davis “Survey of Consumer Attitudes on Olive Oil.” The information is great.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Apr 262013
 

I thought I’d show some love to the olive industry in the southern hemisphere. Harvesting has begun and will continue for a couple more months depending on several factors like region, weather, labor, equipment, cultivar, fruit maturity, and product (table olives or extra virgin olive oil).

Here, listed in alphabetical order, are the countries on the south side that have active olive-related trade associations and websites. There are other countries in the southern hemisphere that grow olives and produce table olives and olive oil, but for various reasons do not have active industry organizations.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Nov 132012
 

The International Olive Council awarded a perfect score to the olive oil taste testers (sensory panel) at the Australian Oils Research Laboratory in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

This is quite a big deal. People who ‘taste’ olive oil for a living must be able to make very subtle distinctions among the flavors and sensations present in olive oil, and this is very difficult to do.

This past July I attended the introduction to olive oil tasting and the master-level sensory evaluation courses at the University of California at Davis. The auditorium full of students, including me, spent days listening to lectures, taking notes, and tasting many olive oils. The lectures were in Italian and were translated by Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers Fine Wine and Gourmet Foods Italian Grocery Store in Sacramento, California.

Until I took these courses, I had no idea how tough it is to correctly evaluate olive oils. The main things that a sensory panel are looking for are defects in the oils. The defects are a very specific list. Here are some of the more common defects and a link to the list from the Olive Oil Times: Fusty, Musty, Muddy Sediment, Winey-Vinegary, Metallic, and Rancid. There are other defects which are less common but problematic none-the-less.

So why is it that defects are what a sensory panel is really looking for? As our Italian teachers told us, if there is a defect then there is no point in continuing a sensory evaluation. The oil can never be designated as a virgin olive oil and must be sent for refining to be used as a lower grade oil know as lampante (lamp oil) or tossed out.

While you are looking at the link above provided by the Olive Oil Times, take note of the positive attributes. Maybe you have noticed some of these when you taste your extra virgin olive oil. If you haven’t, give it a try, and don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t distinguish the flavors because it is very difficult to do. People who taste-test olive oil professionally take continuous courses to stay on track. I was only moderately good at this and will never sit on a sensory panel. One thing I can do, is tell that there is a defect present, I’m just not good at identifying the defect.

Many congratulations to the Wagga Wagga sensory panel on a perfect score. You have Olive Crazy’s deep admiration.

Wagga sensory panel obtains perfect score in olive oil test | Southern Cross

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Oct 102012
 

Last week Olive Crazy went back to California. This time for two olive milling and olive oil production courses taught by Pablo Canamasas at the University of California at Davis. Pablo is the oil production technical manager at Boundary Bend Limited, which is Australia’s largest olive oil producer. Boundary Bend is owned by Cobram Estate and has many grove locations in the country.

I enjoyed the introductory course, but was very pleased with the detail in the advanced milling course. Pablo is a wonderful teacher.

The Olive Center at the University made available to the students the Olive to Bottle mobile mill as a process and equipment viewing aid. I took a short video for you and edited out the sound since the mill was in partial action and was loud. This is my virgin upload to YouTube. There is room for improvement but I’m not unhappy with the result.

The main thing missing in the video is the oil coming out at the end. The olive paste was still very dry and the oil had not yet been released. When you see the open metal grid with the auger churning, that is the dry olive paste. The millers are adding enzymes (brown liquid in the plastic cup) to break down the pectins and water (the hose) as processing aids. The stuff bubbling in the tube at the end into the yellow bins is some of the separated water. It was stinky.

The coffin-like piece of equipment is the decanter. It is a centrifuge which separates the oil from the water and the paste. It is a fascinating device made even more fascinating because you can’t actually see what’s going on inside. The miller must use his or her experience to intuit all that’s happening in there.

The olives that are being milled are early harvest Arbequinas. The smell coming off the bin was rich and inviting. I can still remember the scent.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com