Olive Oil Primer: What is the Arbequina Olive?

When a culinary pro suggested we write about different olive varietals, I thought: “Good idea. We’ll write about the olives we grow.”

So here goes. Thousands of varieties of olives exist worldwide. But only a small percentage account for most of the olives grown today.

We grow three varietals: Arbequina and Arbosana, both from Spain, and Koroneiki, from Greece.

We plant the trees using a system known as “super high-density planting.” It allows us to grow the trees in hedge rows of 570 to 670 trees per acre, versus traditional plantings of 100 to 150 per acre. That way, our high-speed harvesting machines can harvest the trees far more quickly – and deliver the olives to our mills so they can be crushed into fresh extra virgin olive oil.

Arbequina represents 70 percent of the olives we harvest in northern California, from Fresno north to Corning. Arbequina also is the major olive tree of Catalonia, in northeast Spain.

The tree is relatively small. It resists frost well. And the oval-shaped olives it produces are small. The olives also ripen relatively early versus other varietals.

In Europe, you can sometimes find the Arbequina olive tree put in a a pot and placed at the front entrance of cafés.

Our Arbequina extra virgin olive oil has a high fruitiness, balanced pungency, and a very pleasing clean taste. Here are our tasting notes: ripe tropical fruits, apple, and fresh artichoke.

The Arbequina olive yields what’s considered among the more delicate olive oils. “It’s a flavor that everyone can approach.” says Nancy Ash, a trained olive oil taster and owner of the consulting firm Strictly Olive Oil. “It has a lot of good fruit aroma to it.”

We’re particularly proud of our Arbequina these days. Cook’s Illustrated recently rated our Arbequina the best California EVOO among the 10 California oils the magazine’s staff tasted.

Stay tuned for more on the Arbosana olive.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch

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