It is the Harvest season here in Central Victoria. While we have been working away getting our grapes off the vines across the road Mt Bernard Olives is getting ready for the 2018 olive harvest. It won’t be long now before they are getting out their battery operated rakes to handpick and then process the olives into top quality extra virgin olive oil.

Harvest season starts in Victoria around May/June so the season is gearing up to begin. It hasn’t been an easy year for growing olives this year, storms during the late flowering and fruit set period mean there was a greater risk of fungus. But things are looking good at Mt Bernard, providing the weather holds out for a dry finish they are looking in great shape.

The award winning Mt Bernard Olives is a regular attendee to our monthly Farmers Market held at Tahbilk on the 4th Sunday of every month. They are a small family olive grove in the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges in Avenel, Victoria. We think their produce is absolutely delicious.

On their site they grow three different olive oil varieties; Frantoio, Leccino and Picual. How romantic are the names of these varieties, harking back to their European origins.

FRANTOIO

This is the most recognisable olive oil variety in Tuscany, Italy and around the world. The thing about Frantoio is it is very versatile and has proven them as being able to be grown in many places all around Australia. This variety has high oil content (21-23%), is a heavy cropper and ripens over a longer period. When harvested you get a nutty and fruity flavour which is highly aromatic.

LECCINO

This is an older variety originating in Tuscany. The Strathbogie ranges is a good location for this variety as it prefers cooler climates, the oil content slightly lower than some other varieties around 18-21%. This variety is unique and due to its more subtle flavour is often blended with other varieties to create greater flavour. A fresh aroma and a pleasant mouth feel is what you can expect.

PICUAL

Something different is this variety originating from Spain, most production of this variety coming out of the Spanish province of Jaé. The special part of this varietal is its high polyphenolic content which gives it a longer life on the shelf, making it a popular variety to blend with other oils.

What we also love about Mt Bernard is they utilise certified organic fertilisers and pesticides on their grove. Like us employ sustainable management practices across their operations and they compost all of their pruning waste.

This is certainly a producer doing great things in our region and we would recommend you find their product and give them a try. Try Leccino olives with this recipe from the Chairman’s Kitchen – Lamb Neck Stew.

Next time you reach for your olive oil, tip a little in a bowl and sprinkle in some sea salt, grab a slice of fresh sour dough and a glass of Rose. Delicious and enjoy.

2018-04-15

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