Things have finally slowed at ENZO Olive Oil Company. The 2016 harvesting and milling season lasted a little more than three weeks after starting in late October.
The family-owned company, P-R Farms Inc., has established a longtime commitment to growing and producing the best of the best with its varied products, monitoring the entire field-to-bottle process with expert care and precision.
And when fourth-generation grower, Vincent Ricchiuti, decided to bring olive oil under the company’s expansive umbrella of agricultural commodities, the philosophy continued on with his new venture.
“In 2008, our family was going through a transition of wanting to diversify what we were doing,” Ricchiuti explained. “We made the decision to look into olive oil and saw that 98 percent of olive oil consumed in the United States was being imported. We saw that opportunity, planted olive trees in 2008 and had our first harvest in 2011.”
Five harvests later, and ENZO Olive Oil Company is capitalizing on being an organic, estate-grown, non-GMO and kosher-certified commodity.
Through the holidays, ENZO Olive Oil Company presents the 2016 Olio
Nuovo for $24.99.
An ancient Italian tradition, Olio Nuovo — or “new oil” — provides unique characteristics including health benefits and a cloudy, fresh coloring.
“Olio Nuovo is a tradition to have fresh, pressed oil for the season,” said Kari Ball, sales and marketing coordinator for ENZO Olive Oil Company. “It’s a limited product so it’s a huge attraction and kicks off our holiday season.”
The company boasts 400 acres of olive trees dedicated to producing olive oil and runs three varieties of olives — Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki, which vary in flavor, intensity and robustness. The process, however, remains the same for each — starting at the hopper before a transport elevator takes the olives up a conveyor belt to the blower and washer, where weeds and debris are removed and they’re given a quick rinse.
From there, the fruit is deposited into the crusher, which pulverizes the olives — pits and all — into a paste that helps release the oil from the olive cells. The next steps are also mechanized, featuring trips through the malaxer, decanter and vertical centrifuge to churn and warm the olive oil paste, separate the liquid from the solid components and get the remaining water out so the olive oil is left in its purest form.
Quality assurance employee, Kathryn Tomajan, has studied the milling process thoroughly, and focuses a majority of her efforts with ENZO Olive Oil Company on temperature. It’s imperative that it remains as low as possible through every stage, with optimal temperatures staying below 78 degrees.
“We know that we need to move the olives and crushed olives through the system as quickly as possible. The longer they spend in the centrifuges, the more it heats up,” Tomajan said. “If there’s a jump, it means you’re losing some of that great flavor and we want to try to hold onto all the flavor in the olive. Keeping it cool is the best way to preserve those aromas.”
There are sampling cups located next to the vat of finished olive oil, and are readily available for employees or mill guests to get a sip of the product at its peak moment.
Ricchiuti explained that this is the best the oil will ever be, noting the small tickle at the back of the throat as healthful polyphenols making themselves known.
With everything taking place onsite, the olive oil is transported to nearby temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks for holding — where it will wait until an order is placed and it can be properly bottled and prepared for shipment.
ENZO Olive Oil Company takes pride in its transparent, locally based operation, and fits nicely within today’s trend toward buying and supporting area businesses. It’s also used California’s recent foray into the olive oil industry as an opportunity to engage and educate Central Valley customers about its product through demonstrations, food shows, company catalog and more.
“Our generation as a whole is a lot more interested in knowing where our food comes from, ingredients used and the people behind the product,” Ball said. “We’ve been able to gain because of that interest, and a huge part of what we do is getting the consumer to understand the olive oil industry and importance of getting the freshest product out there.”
ENZO Olive Oil Company also runs a storefront: ENZO’s Table — home to fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, healthy snacks, delicacies, and of course, olive oil.
1959 N. Willow Ave., Clovis