The Fresno State Institute for Food and Agriculture will host the Advanced Olive Milling Seminar on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, that will bring together 30 olive millers from across the state in the new Jordan Agricultural Research Center (5241 N. Maple Ave.).
Attendees will exchange information about processing practices for one of the state’s top emerging agricultural products through technical forums, discussions and tastings.
A mobile milling unit will also showcase traditional processing methods and a new ultrasonic method using olives from the campus farm’s 18.5-acre orchard. A final evaluation session will be held in the Jordan Agricultural Research Center’s Olam Sensory Evaluation Laboratory.
Topics will cover olive fruit care and harvest management, sensory evaluation, milling practices and effects on flavor, equipment cleaning and maintenance, filtration, racking, hygiene, storage and variety-specific challenges in California.
“The Jordan College is very excited to be working with California olive oil industry sponsors to bring this program to Fresno State,” said Dr. Sandra Witte, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. “It is a new opportunity for us, and we look forward to building on this event to develop future programs and partnerships.”
Proceeds from the event will be used to fund educational programs at Fresno State to help the state olive oil industry meet its growing needs for skilled labor, advanced technical training and applied research.
Seminar sponsors include Boundary Bend Cobram Estates, California Olive Council, California Olive Ranch, ENZO Olive Oil Company, Olive 2 Bottle Mobile Services, Rancho el Molino Gourmet Foods and The Mill at Kings River.
The seminar was organized by Vincent Ricchiuti, director of operations at ENZO Olive Oil and a 2005 Fresno State graduate, and Kathryn Tomajan, Eat Retreat founder, olive miller and certified olive oil taster. Since its first organic olive harvest in 2011, ENZO Olive Oil has won 125 awards, including Best in Class at the New York International Olive Oil competition.
“Just five years ago, there was a limited number of mills in our region,” said Ricchiuti. “Today, however, there is a growing number of mills as the olive oil industry is at a tipping point much like the California wine industry was 40 years ago when our state’s wine makers started winning against European competitors at international competitions. The key challenge for the California olive oil industry is to find skilled employees who understand both the science and craft of making premium olive oil. Thus, the goal of the California olive oil industry is to initiate positive change by partnering with Fresno State’s Jordan College in hosting this informational seminar.”
Ninety-nine percent of domestic olive oil comes from 45 California mills that process 75 varieties. Over 38,000 acres of olive groves are planted by 400 growers, and about 3,500 new acres will be planted each year through 2020.