When Catherine came to pick me up for our first adventure in Ojai, it was in a cherry red Mercedes, oh yeah. How do I look in the passenger seat? Our first stop: Ojai Olive Oil, for a fascinating few hours. In addition to learning what kinds of oils different olives yield, we learned so much about the industry. Instead of using a press, most olive oil manufacturers now use a centrifuge. Ojai’s equipment is Italian (of course!) and goes through 800 lbs of olives in an hour. They’ve decided that keeping the pits in yields better taste — so they’re not separated until the very end! Ojai Olive Oil’s owner, Ron Asqith, will take you through the whole process, from washing to paste to the separation of all water, if you take his tour.
At this modest family farm, all of the olives are picked by hand. Ojai Olive Oil makes oils from several different kinds of olives, including Kalamata, Leccino and Lechin de Sevilla. I had no idea they made oil from Kalamatas, which I’m addicted to in Greek salads!
The owner, Ron Asquith, showing us a basket that can hold about 50 lbs of olives — enough to make ONE gallon of yummy extra virgin Ojai olive oil!
The oils are kept in barrels in bright-colored barrels like this one. Mandarin flavored — yum! I took home a bottle of the basil.
Ojai Olive Oil’s signature blue bottles. The tasting was fun. Sipping olive oil leaves a slight burning in your throat. (We were offered bread, but what fun is that?) We also sampled their balsamic vinegars in ridiculously delicious flavors like violet and peach, my personal fav. Now the question is, what do you do with peach balsamic vinegar?
On our way out of Ojai Olive Oil, Ron suggested we drive up to Meditation Mount to see the view. He was right. It was stunning!
There’s so much to see and do Ojai: wine, shopping and cocktails.
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