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olives in tx!


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#1 Timo

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 01:45 PM

i spent yesterday morning touring sandy oaks olive orchard and learning about the (booming?) business of olives in texas. thought maybe some eGulleters would like to do the same:
the class i took ('growing olives for fun or profit' [or both!]) was offered through n.e.i.s.d. in san antonio, but many people there were not from s.a., so i am sure anyone can take it. it is led by sandy winokur, the owner of the orchard. she is very knowledgeable, but isn't afraid to tell you about the mistakes they've made at the orchard. (since olives in texas are relatively new, mistakes are common!)
the orchard is in elmendorf, tx (20 mi. south of san antonio) and the drive is beautiful. at the time it is a small operation (the oldest trees are only around 7 years old) but nonetheless it is impressive what they have accomplished.
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here are some of the younger trees. there are quite a few different varieties growing on the orchard, as some do better than others in this particular climate. i was surprised to learn that some varieties will begin producing fruit within two to three years, (however, most generally take around five years) so many of the trees at sandy oaks are already productive.
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at this time of year, buds begin to form on the branches of the tree. eventually the trees will flower and then produce fruit. the buds are teenytiny in this pic, but they are there, atthe ends of this branch.
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the orchard is also a nursery! you learn how to propagate new trees, and some young trees are for sale.
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an olive press on the farm. originally it is from egypt (i think) i'm sure it was fun to ship to south texas! right now, it is not in use, but plans to replace a donkey with an electric motor and to get an o.k. from the health department are in the works.
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these are the baskets that the olives are put into after being crushed. (here, of course, they are decorative.) they are stacked five high in a press to extract the oil. unfortunately, no olive oil from sandy oaks is currently sold (olive oil soaps, cosmetics, and olive leaf tea are produced, however) and the only texas olive oil on the market is 'first texas' (i think - maybe someone else knows for sure..) which is made with olives from texas and california.

all in all, i would really recommend the tour for anyone remotely interested in growing olives. or, anyone interested in learning more about olive oil. (or if you just need an excuse for a nice drive...) also, i personally think that it's exciting to learn about the business in texas, as it is such a new industry but has a very good chance of becoming successful. i don't know when the next class is, but the grove's website is:
sandyoaks.com and the phone is: 210.621.0044
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#2 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 02:28 PM

Thanks for posting about your tour of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, Timo. Great photos, too. I would very much like to see more of this type thing here in the Texas Forum.

#3 fifi

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 03:18 PM

Now that is exciting! I would think that there would be varieties of olive trees that would be adaptable to the climate and soils south of San Antonio. I wonder if Texas A&M is doing any work on this? Wouldn't that be great to have our own olive industry? The wine industry is beginning to improve. Now all we need is a local bread baking tradition that isn't corn bread. Some of you bakers out there need to invent something. :biggrin:
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#4 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 03:22 PM

Okay, Fifi. How about if we invent something and call it a biscuit?

#5 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 03:41 PM

Seriously though, we do have a number of bread and pastry traditions...Czech and German, as well as Mexican.

#6 fifi

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Posted 28 March 2004 - 11:27 PM

Hmmm... A kolache a glass of wine and thou? I don't know. I am thinking that with a developing olive and wine industry, we need something that fits and is uniquely Texan. We have the Mexican bollilos (sp?) that are really of French derivation. When I try to put together olives and bread in a tradition in the US, the only thing I can come up with is the muffaletta that is of New Orleans origin, where a great bread of Italian tradition is melded with a great olive salad. Wouldn't it be great if we could hitch this Texas olive thing to a local star like the muffaletta is for New Orleans?

Olive salsa kolaches? :laugh:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#7 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 12:00 AM

So it's okay to have a muffaleta with a bread of Italian origin, but not something using bolillos of Mexican-French origin? Maybe I am not following your logic.

#8 fifi

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 07:27 AM

What logic? :raz:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#9 Timo

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 07:42 PM

i forget the title of the book, but i recently saw a recipe for a 'texas baguette'. it looked like a regular baguette, really, but maybe larger. well, sorry i am not being very specific here, i will try to find the details.
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#10 fifi

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 07:58 PM

OK... So we aren't getting very far with pairing those Texas olives with a great Texas bread. What about cheese? A few years ago I was visiting this guy's mansion in Napa Valley. He had some olive trees on the property and cured his own olives from his trees just for the fun of it. He served us some of those and we were whacking chunks of cheese off of this whole wheel of PR. What an experience. (He also still had the family estate in Tuscany. A cousin sent him the cheese.) So, what I am thinking is that now that we have olives, we can do our own Texas Mediterrannea. What are Texans doing with cheeses that would pair well.

I suppose that this olive thing is just so surprising that I would think that Texans could toot our horn about all of this.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#11 docsconz

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:06 PM

I would think parts of Texas would be great olive country. I'm actually surprised that there is not a more mature olive industry there especially given the historical connections to the Spaniards.
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#12 fifi

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:15 PM

I was thinking the same thing, doc. The soil type is certainly a fit. I ahven't really compared the climate conditions but I would think that wouldn't be too far off either. That is why I was asking if Texas A&M was involved.

I recall reading that the Spaniards did not encourage olive growing in the New World because it was competing with their home industry.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#13 docsconz

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 08:19 PM

Did the Spaniards contribute anything culinarily to Texas or the New World? They certainly took plenty out of it, including chocolate, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc. they did do a little wine growing in Mexico and California, but as far as I know, not really much.
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#14 fifi

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 09:25 PM

Well... They brought pigs, and cows, and horses (to round up the cows, not to eat :biggrin: ). I am not sure about the chicken. I don't think the New World had chickens but I am not sure about that. I think they also introduced wheat that was taken up in northern Mexico. That is why wheat flour tortillas originate in northwestern Mexico. I will probably think of other things but the current "authentic" Mexican cuisine is a true hybrid of cross-ocean commerce.

There is also an Asian connection coming from the trade of the Manilla Galleons. In Chiapas state in southern Mexico, you see the use of ginger and Ceylon cinnamon for instance.

Some antropologists say that their was trade with Asia before Columbus and the Spanish but that is controversial.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#15 lovebenton0

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 02:09 PM

Some anthropologists say that their was trade with Asia before Columbus and the Spanish but that is controversial.

Very controversial. :blink: :hmmm:

And chickens came from many places. Europe, as well as Asia, and Africa. I don't know about chickens in pre-contact North and Central America. However, they do not figure (literally) in the iconography of those areas. So, I would think that would make the chicky birds a later arrival. :biggrin: Don't think prairie chickens count here. :laugh:

Going back to olives and bread. Once I can get Texas olives, I'll make my Texas skillet olive bread with "home grown" olives instead of the imports. :cool:
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#16 fifi

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 05:59 PM

Going back to olives and bread. Once I can get Texas olives, I'll make my Texas skillet olive bread with "home grown" olives instead of the imports. :cool:

Recipe?
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#17 Mabelline

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 06:17 PM

Columbus brought chickens on his second voyage, circa 1493. But there is a dispute that jungle fowl were not already on the Western coasts of Mesoamerica. The Indigenous population raised turkeys quite successfully. There are the bones of birds at Chaco Canyon that predate and indicate domestic or at least mass-
slaughter.

As far as olives, what took you all so long. Either Jaymes or Theobroma remarked on the EXTENSIVE olive groves in Mexica...

#18 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 07:32 PM

There is a huge olive growing region in Northern Baja. Supposedly the Valle Guadalupe is one of the largest concentration of olive trees in the world. It is a really beautiful part of the country.

Edited to say what I meant to say in the first place:

The part of Baja where these grow would not be unlike some parts of Texas. It is a desert valley that recieves small anounts of rain during the year and is fairly temperate. It doesn't ever have a hard freeze, although in the summer it is fairly hot. I guess this is a good thing for the olives, as they are sure plentiful and healthy there. I am sre that successful cultivation is easily within the realm of possibility.
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#19 spoonbread

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 12:21 AM

Very Nice! Thank you for that. I am always looking to support and use Texas produce and such. I will give them a mail.
Thanx again!

#20 LDLee

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Posted 31 March 2004 - 07:43 AM

Here are some links that might be of interest:

Texas Olive Oil Council: http://www.texasoliveoilcouncil.org/
TAMU EXtenstion Service: http://aggie-horticu...live/olive.html
Texas Electric Cooperative article: http://www.texas-ec....p/302olive.html
Austin Chronicle: http://www.austinchr...s_daytrips.html
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#21 FoodMan

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:15 AM

Timo-
Thanks for posting about this. Too bad it does not seem like they sell fresh uncured olives yet. Did u get to take any with you when you went on the tour?

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#22 Timo

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Posted 06 April 2004 - 09:21 AM

foodman- i assume you are asking if i got to take any olives with me? no - olive trees bear fruit in the autumn, so any uncured olives would be a little grody by now... and the orchard doesn't cure many of their olives at this point as far as i know. mostly they are used to make soaps, cosmetics, etc. (maybe this is more profitable? but it seems unfortunate)
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#23 lovebenton0

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 02:27 PM

Columbus brought chickens on his second voyage, circa 1493. But there is a dispute that jungle fowl were not already on the Western coasts of Mesoamerica. The Indigenous population raised turkeys quite successfully. There are the bones of birds at Chaco Canyon that predate and indicate domestic or at least mass-
slaughter.

As far as olives, what took you all so long. Either Jaymes or Theobroma remarked on the EXTENSIVE olive groves in Mexica...

There is little doubt there were jungle fowl present prior to the Spanish entrada. Turkeys are native to the Americas. Birds at Chaco Canyon are a different issue, as were not "chickens" as we know them. As I mentioned, not counting prairie chickens, and the like. Just referring to the chicky birds as we know them now. :wink: Well, not the legless :blink: :raz: commercial fowl.

Back to olives, in a way . . .

fifi, I'll post my recipe a little later for the skillet bread. :biggrin:
Judith Love

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#24 thegreatdane

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 07:12 AM

There's an olive orchard in Wimberley. They also offer pick-your-own blackberries and raspberries. I remember watching a video about fifteen years ago about some olive tree growers in west Texas, using underground irrigation, etc. I wonder if they're still in business. I also remember an article in the Statesman about a guy growing truffles near Austin. I wonder if it worked.

There's something weird about this town; people are very fickle with quality. Anyone else see this? Why isn't there as rich a food consciousness as in the Northwest, Napa Valley, San Francisco, and other great food cities? We're coming along, yeah, but it seems... so... slow...

#25 markf424

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 08:10 AM

There's an olive orchard in Wimberley.  They also offer pick-your-own blackberries and raspberries.

My wife and I actually visited this ranch on our way back from Llano this weekend. It's called Bella Vista Ranch: http://www.bvranch.com. Unfortunately, they were closed when we arrived, but I took a couple of pics of the young trees.

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#26 lovebenton0

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 08:13 AM

Back to olives, in a way . . .

fifi, I'll post my recipe a little later for the skillet bread.  :biggrin:

Texas Sourdough Potato Skillet Bread

A different and easy dinner skillet bread, that requires very little kneading. It is especially well suited to serve with bbq/grilled meats, and hearty soups or beans. This is not a strict sourdough bread, as there is the addition of yeast due to the softness of the dough. But you can enjoy it anyway. The recipe is very simple in its basic form and it disappears quickly. You can change the character for variety, by adding olives, cheese, onions, or peppers. For cheese bread add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your choice grated cheese to the dough; either when you knead in the cornmeal at the end, or as a topping for your loaf.

I like to top this bread with about 1/3 cup olive tapenade, or sliced olives, if you prefer. If topping with olive brush dough with olive oil after shaping instead of butter.

Ingredients

3/4 cup sourdough starter, set out in the morning
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup bread flour
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar

1 large potato, boiled, and peeled, grated
1/2 cup potato water, warm
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 cup light margarine or butter
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup light margarine or butter for coating dough
*Butter flavored cooking spray is a good substitute for coating dough, and for buttering your skillet that yields less fat, calories, and sodium.

Method

Combine first five ingredients for sponge; allow to set for 3-4 hrs in open bowl away from drafts.
Boil, then peel the potato; grate potato, should be about 1 1/2 cups grated. Stir down the sponge; stir in grated potato and potato water with the garlic, salt, and lemon pepper.
Stir through the 1/4 cup butter or margarine.
Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Mix in with wooden spoon then knead by hand until a very soft dough.
Knead in the cornmeal.
Coat with softened light margarine or butter; cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Turn out into a well buttered 8 or 9 inch skillet. Coat again; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 35-45 minutes.
Bake in 425 oven for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned on top and done.



Edited to add: Nice pics of the olive trees, markf424. :biggrin: We must have been posting at the same time.

Edited by lovebenton0, 19 April 2004 - 08:23 AM.

Judith Love

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One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite