It Is Best To Make Your Own Flavored Oil

We are often asked why we do not offer a flavored olive oil. The simplest answer is a flavored olive oil is not extra virgin because it includes additives. Some additives are worse than others. Any oil that has any vegetative matter in it, like herbs, goes rancid very quickly. Oils that are processed by adding fruit during the crush are less subject to oxidation but the additives still contribute to quick deterioration. Oftentimes producers will create a flavored oil from a sub-standard oil in order to mask the lesser quality oil.

Instead we recommend that you make your own infused oils when you want them in the quantity that you want them. In this way all your separate ingredients are as fresh as possible. Making your own infused oil is as simple as making a salad dressing, simply add some lemon, whisk, and let set a little while. You can also heat the oil in a pan and add your favorite spices to make a savory infused oil. It is very simple and tasty and most importantly very fresh.

Flavored oils are easy to use and we have tasted some that were quite good. But in the end we prefer to go with the best of both worlds by making our own with the freshest olive oil and the freshest ingredients.

Rachel Ray’s California Olive Oil Trail

We were delighted to learn that Rachel Ray included Apollo Olive Oil as one of eight Northern California olive oil producers featured in the travel section of her June magazine. Recognition from such a national food icon is a great feather in our cap, and we welcome your visit! Just please call ahead to be sure one of us can take you around.

To Filter or Not to Filter, That is the Question.

We’re frequently asked if we filter our oils. This question often comes from reading some faulty information on the internet or thinking olive oil is somehow similar to apple juice in this regard.

We filter our oils with mechanical means – meaning there is no chemical reaction. The newly milled oils are just passed through very fine meshes and a special felted paper designed specifically for trapping the olive particles and juices. Based on the recommendations of Marco Mugelli, the pioneer of naturally preserving olive oil polyphenols, we do this in-line, immediately after the oil is extracted and before it is pumped into a tank. This way, almost no sediment remains and there’s no chance anaerobic decomposition of the sediment will produce off smells during storage. Once spoilage begins to happen, other chemical processes kick in that rapidly lead to oxidation, rancidity, and unpleasant smells and tastes.

Some people centrifuge their oil to remove particulate matter, but this method introduces a lot of oxygen which reacts with the antioxidants in the oil. We also used this method early on, but we found that our oils lost their freshness due to the excessive oxidation much more quickly.

Others rack their oils the old-fashioned way to remove the vegetable water and particulate matter. After a cloudy oil has been in a tank for days or weeks, the sediment will have settled to the bottom, and then the clear oil is pumped into another container. We used to use this method early on as well and found the same problem with the freshness not lasting as long as we wanted.

Some olive oils are sold as “unfiltered”, conjuring up the benefits of unfiltered apple juice – as though this was a positive aspect in olive oil; it is not. The difference is that fresh, unfiltered apple juice is consumed almost immediately, whereas extra virgin olive oil, even though it is also a fresh product, is supposed to last for about two years. Particles suspended in olive oil usually begin anaerobic spoilage within a month or two, which is also one reason we never put herbs or other things into our oils.

Two years ago we had the polyphenol levels analyzed twice – as soon as the oils were made and again after the summer, 8 months later. We found, to our surprise, that the levels hadn’t changed a bit! Our oils are very stable because we take every precaution to avoid oxidation and prevent spoilage. We’re confident that immediate mechanical filtering is one of the keys to the exceptionally high polyphenols, and beautiful award-winning aromas and flavors – as well as the long shelf life of our oils.

Eat, Drink, and Be Local

This year, our little rural community around Oregon House has experienced the spontaneous flowering of a local food movement that Apollo Olive Oil is proudly supporting. It all started very simply, with a small group of local food lovers and farmers meeting to explore how we can help our own neighbors enjoy the great produce growing right here. It turned out that most of our community had no idea how many wonderful things are quietly being produced right here in the hills of north Yuba county. Our rural area is tucked far away from any large grocery stores, so it made sense to many of us to bring our neighbors together with the local food producers.

This simple, initial effort has blossomed happily into a number of creative and practical ideas that have helped our local farmers sell their produce nearby, while delivering amazingly fresh, tasty food to their delighted neighbors. Now, the tiny, local farmer’s markets are cooperating in advertising for each other. The local community center hosts a wine-tasting lunch each Saturday that features local foods and wines (where Gianni volunteers to setup, wait tables, and clean up). Several maps of the local farm and wineries have been produced for visitors to tour farms in the area, meet producers, and learn about the wealth of real, good food growing right here. All the local wineries got together and created a “North Sierra Wine Trail and Discovery Adventure” to allow visitors to experience the area’s hidden gems. And, inspired by all this activity, a few individuals have started their own roadside farm stands.

This food movement has neighbors sharing their talents, making new friendships, and strengthening the local community – besides eating better and promoting neighborly business! We highly recommend all small town communities give it a try – it is well worth the effort.

Check out the first annual Wine Trail event  THIS WEEKEND – you can come either Saturday or Sunday.

The wine-tasting lunches are on Saturdays, through Labor Day.

Finally, here’s the web site promoting our new local initiative, North Yuba GROWN.

Taking Home the Trophy

This weekend we headed down to the Yolo County fairgrounds to accept the trophy for the “Best of the Best” California olive oil, won by our 2012 Gold Series Coratina. The local press was there to mark the event. The judges found our Coratina to be the best organic olive oil and then, when judged against the best non-organic olive oils, it was again found to be the best overall.  We really like this little-known variety, and with over 250 olive oils in the competition this year, we’re happy it got the recognition it deserves.

Pictured (left to right) – Jean Malcolm, Office Staff, Umberto Stefanini, son,  Gianni Stefanini, Diana Stefanini owners of Apollo Olive Oil and Bart Vannucci, Director, Yolo County Fair Board.

Our New Harvest Oils Are Now Available

Our new harvest oils are now available at We have put our best efforts into our flagship oils, and are very pleased with their quality this year. Despite the season’s difficult weather, we were able to harvest and mill the varieties that make up these two oils at their best. Our selective harvesting techniques and insistence on hand picking methods that do not bruise or damage the fruit have once again translated into wonderful oils.

The Sierra is very similar in both flavor and quality to that of last year’s production, which was the only domestic oil to be awarded the Best of Show at the prestigious LA International Olive Oil Competition. It has a rich, sparkling character with a green tomato and fresh nut flavor, along with a complex green grass aroma: it is a perfect companion for a caprese salad, and is ideal for drizzling onto pastas and bean soups.

We are also pleased by how close this year’s Mistral is to our original ideal. It has a sweet-soft buttery flavor, with pine nuts followed by tropical fruit and finishes with a nice, light pungency. We recommend the oil for seafood (it pairs beautifully with cracked crab), green salads, delicate soups, and homemade mayonnaise.

This particularly interesting year has also brought extremely high quality to our Barouni. It still has it’s usual character, full of intensity and spiciness, but with an outstanding amount of total antioxidants: 1,093 milligrams per kilo, 825 of which are oil-soluble polyphenols. These are truly outstanding results, considering that it is very difficult to find olive oils, even the high quality ones, with polyphenol levels above 350 mg/kg.

We are also happy to announce that this year, we are adding another child to the Gold Series family. We have produced a mere 350 bottles of our new Coratina oil, a typical variety of the Puglia region in southern Italy. We have been growing our Coratina trees for ten years, since we imported them as saplings. While we have known that the oil they produce is exceptional, this is the first year that we have had enough of it to be able to bottle it on its own. The Coratina is a full bodied and complex olive oil with an intense green walnut and artichoke character. It is also very rich in anti oxidants: 808 total, with 548 polyphenols. The limited production will only be available on our website.


Harvest 2010

We have been very busy with our harvest the last two months. The crop is wonderful this year due to the mild Spring, the warm Summer and the cool Fall. Below are some of our harvest pictures. We wish you Happy Holidays and we thank you for all your support.

We recently were awarded a special distinction. Marco Oreggia, one of Italy’s premier olive oil tasters, awarded our oil a score of 94 which tied us for position 28 out of 3000 oils tasted from all over the world, Europe and Italy. He also chose us in his Best 20 olive oil producers out of over 1500 producers.

The gorgeous site of fresh hand-picked olives

The olives begin their journey

The olives make their way to the hammermill to be crushed

After being crushed the olive paste enters the malaxers to be prepared for the decanter

The beautiful fresh oil emerges from the decanter

2010 LA County International Olive Oil Competition

The 2010 LA County International Olive Oil Competition just posted the results from their prestigious tasting event. Apollo Olive Oil’s Sierra was the only domestic oil to win a Best of Show medal in the non-flavored category. Overall all three of our oils won Gold Medals at the LA County competition. So far this year we have won 8 golds, a silver, two best of class, and two best of shows. We won best US organic oil in the Biol, Italy competition and world famous food critic, David Rosengarten, chose the Barouni as his favorite oil. So needless to say we are very pleased with our oils this year and we hope you enjoy them.

Take a Tour of Apollo Olive Oil

Below is a link to a 4 minute brief glimpse into how Apollo Olive Oil is made. You will see some of our orchards, how the olives enter the mill, the unique under vacuum milling process and the fresh oil emerging from the decanter which we taste immediately to ensure high quality. We are very proud of our little mill and the award winning olive oil it produces, it is a labor of love.

Watch the video (11 mb)

End of Harvest Paella!

We finished the hard but rewarding work of harvest in mid-December. The harvest went very smoothly and the resulting oils were excellent. After blending and bottling we should have the new oils available in mid to late March. To celebrate the occasion our assistant miller and olive farmer Juan Jose made his family’s traditional paella. What a treat! Gianni, Diana and their son Umberto joined Steve and his wife along with Juan and Eve at Steve’s home on a beautiful December Saturday. There was plenty of beer and wine flowing as we all gathered around the table and watched Juan Jo prepare his masterpiece.

It starts with a special large flat pan hooked directly to the propane. You first brown the meat (duck, chicken, turkey, and pork) in an excellent extra virgin olive oil, of course. Then move it to the side and add fresh green beans and assorted white beans. Then move that to the side and add organic tomatoes. Quite a colorful dish. Then add water and rice. This is the tricky part, you need to add the correct ratio of rice vs. water. You then let this simmer for around 18 minutes. During the simmering you can add fresh artichoke, just remove the prickly leaves.

And now the kicker, top with fresh rosemary from the garden as it simmers.

After the rice is done and the water evaporated bring the whole pan to the table. Each person then dips his fork into the delicious mixture and proceeds directly to his own mouth with no plates intervening. This is true family style dining at its best. At this point you might be wondering, “Hey where are all the measurements and ingredient lists.” Well this is how family recipes are cooked – by feel. And we all felt very good with a perfect end to a perfect harvest.