Olive Oil

Chaffin 100 year old Mission Olive Orchards – Photo by Tony Dunn

Chaffin Family Orchards Olive Oil is 100% cold pressed and Extra Virgin from our own ranch grown heirloom Mission Olives. Mission olives are known for their complex but balanced flavor profiles.  Our farm has over 200 acres of orchards and many of the olives are old heirloom plantings.  Many olive oil producers from across the state purchase our olives to add to their own award-winning oil labels. Oil from our olives has won top honors at international Extra Virgin Olive Oil competitions under a myriad of labels including our own. When you purchase olive oil directly from our ranch,  you can feel confident knowing that it is of the very highest quality; its taste and heath-giving qualities optimized by our environment-enhancing practices.

We harvest the majority of our olives for oil late in the season, once all the fruit has turned black. This produces a very mild buttery flavor with a bouquet of subtle floral undertones.  This oil is excellent for using daily in salad dressings, marinades, sautéing, making mayonnaise, etc. Its mild flavor is also quite popular with children. We also do a mid-season harvest where a small percentage of the fruit is still green and the rest is mostly red or black.  This produces an oil with a bit more depth and a bold peppery finish. Many people are accustomed to a stronger oil and prefer a hint of grassy spicy notes to balance an oil that’s overall smooth and well-balanced.

Both harvests produce fantastic oils and can be used differently depending on the application.  The Late Harvest Oil is ideal for everyday use where you don’t want to add a lot of additional flavor notes to your dish.  The Mid-Season Oil is slightly more robust and can be utilized better in situations where adding a bit of olive flavor and a little spice would be desirable.  We leave all of our olive oils unfiltered so as to maintain their  full nutrient density.

This property was specifically selected and developed a century ago for olive production.  The olive trees thrive in our volcanic mineral-rich soils and Mediterranean climate.  Olive experts from around the world have been mystified by how much foresight and thought was put into these orchards so long ago.  Everything from tree spacing, orchard orientation to the sun, deep-rooted perennial cover crops, and water allocation are all based upon around maximizing tree health and providing them the ultimate conditions to produce high quality olives. Slow Food has listed Mission Olives on their Ark of Taste as an endangered variety in need of preserving.

Not too many years ago nearly all domestically produced olive oils were of superb caliber.  Now though as demand grows for California olive oil the industry has found ways to cut corners to meet growing demand.  A growing trend for highly mechanized and chemical dependent olive oil production known has Super High Density Olive Plantings has grown to become the norm.  Trees are cordoned and trained to a trellis like a vineyard, but to afford the expensive mechanical harvesting the trees have to be planted at a density higher than what the soil could naturally support.  So fertility as well as weed and pest control all become managed by synthetic chemicals.  Trees that are propped up on conventional chemical type agriculture don’t have to struggle to the same degree against the elements and therefore are likely to produce fewer antioxidants and polyphenols. Fruit is mechanically harvested with picking combines that are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.  Unlike our olives which are all still traditionally hand harvested which not only keep a legacy and culture alive but it employs people rather than large fuel guzzling machines.  Couple this country’s propensity for super high density chemical dependent plantings and the commonality for international olive oils labeled as extra virgin to be mixed or adulterated with cheaper grades of oil or other types of oil before being imported into this country (New Yorker expose article Slippery Business), and it behooves the consumer to buy directly from the farm to insure that they are getting a quality product.

NPR Audio Interview with Tom Mueller author of Losing Virginity
How to store & cook with olive oil
Oil Pulling Wikipedia

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
Passionate Olive
Organic Olive Oil Production Book