you can't make jewelry with it but you can use it for lamps,
to make soap and cosmetics, as a medicine, as a multi-purpose
and you can also cook with it.
We discovered the fresh and flavorful olive oil at the Templeton
Farmers Market in the Central Coast wine-growing region
of California. It tasted pretty good and later we went back
for more and to conduct a question-and-answer session, which
led to a visit to the orchard in Sacramento. There we were
greeted by the entire Bariani family with a green tea and
almond cake "ceremony." This traditional family
gathering set us in the mode for things to come. Angelo,
the papa, and wife Santa welcomed us into their modest home
filled with trophies garnered by their four sons, Luigi,
Enrico, Emanuele and Sebastian, during their dirt-bike and
road-bike races. These are proof of the family's competitive
spirit, which drives them to produce the best olive oil
one can find on the market.
DID IT START?
The Bariani family immigrated to Sacramento in 1987 from
Voghera in Northern Italy's Liguria region, following the
lead of their eldest son, Luigi, who had been attending
University of California Davis. In 1991 the family started
pressing olives for personal use, beginning with something
like five gallons. Bariani Olive Oil came to life
in 1995 and today produces over 10,000 gallons. They purchased
a run-down plot consisting of an old house and a barn on
45 acres. After intense revitalization, the orchard now
boasts a combination of 75-year-old trees and 2,000 new
trees. There is a new, 60-acre orchard north of Sacramento
with the same types of trees. The varietals are Manzanillo
and Mission, which were brought from Spain by Franciscan
fathers in the 1700s. Only California fruit is used. Just
like in winemaking, the Barianis bank on the concept of
terroir. That is, to let the local conditions craft
the product. The soil and climate are the basis for the
quality of the juice. Another influence is the time of harvest.
Sebastian notes that "We are crafting an original product;
it would be a mistake to try to recreate what is done in
Italy, Spain, Greece or France." No matter what the
conditions are, children and parents are fully dedicated
to their newly established passion. They regularly work
16-hour days in the busy fall season. They proceed with
insight and are already rewarded for their hard work with
high sales, complimentary e-mails, and awards.
years in the construction business helped offset the family's
initial lack of farming experience. He designed a "smart"
plant which enables them to turn out a quality product at
a most reasonable cost; somewhat reminiscent of the Italian
cottage industries. For olive processing, good orchard management
is prime. You must prune every three to four years in the
late winter, making sure you have adequate cross-pollination
and some water. Fruits are picked by hand and with the use
of small rakes to minimize any chance for bruising, which
may cause fermentation later in the game.
olives are picked green, to assure a more intense flavor,
in late September to mid-December. This is the busiest time
at the Bariani farm. A custom-designed production line cleans
the fruit by separating the leaves and twigs, and washing
and drying prior them to stone crushing. Huge granites wheels
(weighing 2 tons each), imported from Italy, crush the delicate
fruit against a granite base. This procedure generates a
paste which is then layered on filtering mats and cold pressed
at only 10% extraction with hydraulic equipment. The resulting
pulp goes back to the orchard for compost. Many producers
press the pulp again at this point, and others go further
using heat to extract any possible drop. A centrifuger separates
the vegetal water from the juice, which is then set to rest
in steel vats to decant. Several weeks later the finished
product is poured into 250-, 500- and 1000-ml dark, light-protective
bottles, totally unfiltered to preserve flavor. You might
question the cloudy appearance and deposits, but you want
these as they extend the life of the product and are ultimately
responsible for the delectable taste. Bottling continues
from January to October. At any point in time of production
or consumption, you want to avoid oxygen that would render
the oil rancid. Enrico the miller notes that "we simply
copied the ancient Greeks but added electricity to the process."
It is important to note that Bariani Olive Oil is Certified
Organic. Emanuele, the salesman, adds that "the lady
from the Department of Agriculture lives next door; you
bet she has her eye on our orchard." The oil keeps
18-24 months in good storage conditions (a cool and dark
place) and the Barianis point out that "our grandmother
in Italy has had it for five years and it still tastes fresh."
As all good cooks know, not all olive oils are created equal.
This oil is not only molto bene but also doesn't cause a
gasp at the price: $14 for a liter, as compared to more
than $50 charged for some Californian olive oils. Our tasting
panel gave it a thumbs-up as great for dipping in bread
or tossing with pasta but cautioned it might be a little
strong for salads. Pure olive oil is better for sautéeing
since it has a higher smoke point. Some found it "pungent
with a real olive taste" others "nice and meaty"
and "smooth." With its gorgeous emerald color
and robust character, you have a truly natural, no-fault,
high-quality product with a new orchard blend for balance
Know what you're looking for in a bottle of olive
· Antioxidants: Any substance that inhibits
oxidation, which is thought to be a factor in disease
· Certified Organic: Grown and
processed by farmers who do not use harmful chemicals,
who process using sustainable methods, and who keep
detailed records of their practices.
· Cold pressed: Pit and all pressed
with a chemical-free process that involves only pressure,
which produces a natural level of low acidity to produce
· Extra virgin: Oil produced
during the first round of cold pressing; more intense
and flavorful than other pressings.
· HDL: High-density lipoprotein
which removes unwanted cholesterol from the body and
thus lowers the risk of heart disease.
· Mono-saturated fat: Contains
no saturated fat and thus does not produce cholesterol
build-up in arteries.
· Polyphenols: A type of antioxidant
which acts as protective substance against deterioration
and rancid quality.
· Heat pressed: prone to rancidity
· LDL: Low-density lipoprotein
which transports and deposits cholesterol in the tissues
· Poly-saturated fat: Decreases
levels of both LDL and HDL in the body.
· Refined: An oil with maximum
acidity of .5g/100g-.5% which has been subjected to
heat and chemicals and depleted of flavor, vitamins,
essential fatty acids, other nutrients.