Olive Oil - The Chef's Hobby
One of the treasures inherited by the Duke of Bedford, who called the estate home in the earlier parts of this century, is an Olive Grove. Cascade Country Manor boasts 900 olive trees on the property, which produces approximately 1 000 litres of olive oil annually.
From these decade old trees comes the harvest for Cascade Manor’s own Olive Oil, a hobby of Owner/Chef Volker Goetze. It is a unique blend produced mainly from Frantoio and Leccino olives.
Olive Oil Tasting
You can experience a pre-dinner Olive Oil Tasting enjoyed with freshly baked bread from the wood fired stone oven. Olive Oil tastings are offerd daily at 10 am. Booking in advance is necessary.
Frantoio & Leccino
These cultivars are the principal participants in Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavour while Frantoio is fruity with a stronger aftertaste.
Frantoio is the most noted olive oil variety of Tuscany, Italy, and one of the most highly acclaimed oil varieties in the world. It is grown commercially in most olive growing regions including Italy, North Africa, Australia, Argentina and California. Under the name 'Paragon', Frantoio olives have also well proven themselves in most olive growing regions of Australia.
Frantoio olive trees have been grown in Italy for centuries under at least 19 synonyms such as Frantoiano, Correggiolo, Raggio, Gentile and Razzo. However, Italian DNA research in late 1998 showed that 12 Frantoio synonyms tested were all genetically different to some degree. Just for interest, in Tuscany, Italy, an olive oil processing factory is also called a 'Frantoio'.
Frantoio olives are small to medium size (2 to 3g) and oval in shape. The olives have a pleasant nutty flavour when pickled. When mature, the fruit are coloured purple-black, but at the preferred harvest time for oil production are green and purple-green. The highly noted oil is of fruity character, highly aromatic and of leading quality.
Leccino is also known as Leccio, Premice and Silverstone. The drupe is of medium size (2 to 2.5 grams). The maturation is early and simultaneous.
The fruit is purple-black although purple green at the optimal picking time. It has variable oil content of between 16 and 21%. The oil is good, mildly fruity and delicate.
This is a very rustic variety, widely planted throughout the world. The tree is quick to produce and resists well adverse climatic conditions and parasites. More recently it has been used for the production of table olives, semi-ripe or black.
Outlets & Price
Cascade Manor Olive Oil can be purchased on the Estate.
Cascade Manor received a Silver Award in the category for Intensely Fruity oils at the 2008 SA Olive Awards.
Home of olives is in Drakenstein
Paarl Post Thursday 14 May 2009 written by Lise Beyers
For many years the Drakenstein Valley has been synonymous with the production of excellent wines.
But few people know that this area was the birthplace of the olive industry in South African and still today it is the front-runner of this industry.
Well-known Wellingtonner, Piet Cillié, later known as Piet California, was the true pioneer of the olive industry.
The Cillié family farmed on the farm Rhebokskloof, on the horseshoe in Wellington. Cillié was at the forefront of the fruit industry in the later 1800’s – so much so that the government sent him to California in 1893 to investigate the successful fruit farming there.
Amongst citrus trees and other ‘strange fruit’ which he brought back, were olive trees. Cillié was very enthusiastic about the future of live farming, and himself planted hundreds of trees on his farm.
This enthusiasm was shared with Jan Minnaar, at that time the owner of De Hoop farm in Paarl.
Not only did Minnaar successfully grow olives, but he was the first person in South Africa to press olive oil after converting a wine press for this purpose. His oil was of such good quality, that in 1907 he won an award at the London Show for the finest oil produced in the British Empire.
Derek Clift still farms with olives at De Hoop, and much of the oil that is pressed here, comes from trees which were originally planted by Minnaar.
Clift however had a setback earlier this year when the fire on Paarl Mountain destroyed most of the trees, which were then fully laden with olives. But he is optimistic, as the trees which were thought to have been completely destroyed, are starting to sprout again.
In 1935, the Costa’s actively started to produce olive oil on their Paarl East farm and they soon had a monopoly in the olive industry.
But in recent years olive oil has become a sought after commodity, and olive plantations have sprung up all over the area. Olive oil is considered far healthier than other cooking or salad oils, and with people becoming increasingly health conscious, the sale of olive oil has rocketed in South Africa over the past ten years.
Reni Hildenbrand bought Piet Cillie’s farm in 1991, with the aim of making wine. But when she started investigating the rich history of the farm she became fascinated in the olive industry.
Hildebrand travelled to the heart of the olive industry in Tuscany, Italy, to learn all she could. On her return she planted 3000 olive trees, and in 1996 she imported an olive press from Italy and started producing her own oil.
Through the years she has become very involved in the industry and has become affectionately known as the olive lady. But Hildebrand is concerned that the industry, which has grown from small beginnings, to an agricultural giant, is not being regulated.
“The huge overseas olive oil market has strict regulations in place to determine the quality of the oil.”
Extra virgin olive oil is the champagne of oils, but many times, a bottle that is so labled does not conform to the standards.
It must have a reading of less than 0.8% of fatty acids, and be free of any defect such as rancidity, being muddy and winey, as well as containing sediment. This oil comes from the first pressing of the olives and throughout this process, it must be kept at a temperature below 27ºC.
Olives must be pressed immediately after picking or at the most 24 hours later, and be pressed under hygienic conditions. And the olives must be hand-picked to prevent them from becoming bruised.
“Our market has been flooded by cheap imports which often are labeled extra virgin oil, but this is not the real thing.
“Surplus oils from Spain, Portugal and Italy which are of an inferior standard are also mixed and bottled, then sold here as extra virgin oil. This oil is then just as unhealthy as other cooking oils.
“Apart from real extra virgin oil being delicious, it is very healthy.”
In 2002 it was recorded that South Africa imports one million litres of olive oil annually, and only produces 300 000 litres.
“Members of SA Olive try themselves to set standards and encourage olive oil producers to bide by this.
“We have our own certification label on our products which shows that the oil is truly extra virgin, and importantly as well, the date of production.
“Olive oil only has a shelf life of 18 months. Thereafter the quality deteriorates drastically.
“But still, many role-players in the olive industry are out to make a quick buck, and ignore any standards.”
Hildenbrand does see things changing in the future, but only if the entire olive industry takes a united stand against inferior olive oils.
Cascade Manor is a member of the South African Olive Growers Association.