The 2017 Epic Olive Odyssey

by Michael H. Imwalle

On October 28th almost fifty volunteers from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation started the 2017 olive harvest at the Santa Inés Mission Mills.  SBTHP staff, board, a team from the Anacapa School, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Sunday morning to pick the California Mission olives from the Mission grove. With a record turnout of volunteer pickers, almost the entire Mission grove was picked by lunch time. After picking volunteers were treated to a tour of the historic fulling and grist mills with Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Mike Imwalle. Following the tour, volunteers were treated to a barbecue lunch hosted by Mission Mills Agricultural and Maintenance Supervisors Tom Walton and Leeann Haslouer.

The following three days a six-person crew of professional pickers gleaned the remaining Manzanillo, Lucca, Grappalo, and Arbequina varietals from the Mills and Rasmussen groves.

We harvested 3.57 tons of olives, another record harvest. On Wednesday November 1st the fruit was processed at Figueroa Farms less than five miles from the site where they were harvested. The fruit produced 114 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil. That converts to almost ninety cases of 12 – 12.5 oz. bottles. Ordinarily oil is stored in barrels prior to bottling until the solid particles settle to produce a clear product without sediment. Oil bottled immediately after processing still has solids suspended in the oil producing a slightly cloudy looking oil. The cloudiness reflects the sediments still suspended in the oil.

Volunteers enjoying the culinary artistry of Tom Walton.

The first twenty cases of the 2017 harvest were packed immediately and bottled as our 2017 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols and Omega 3s, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest.

“Liquid Sunshine” 2017 Olio Nuovo.

Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. This year’s oil has been delivered and is available today! Order yours online at here or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.

Michael Imwalle is Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

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