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Texas Olive Oil: The New Spindletop

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This just in: There’s a new breed of Texas wildcatter. The Texas Olive Ranch, a group of five friends and bidness partners, brought in its first big Texas olive harvest–the equivalent of Spindletop–this last weekend, at a spread in South Texas near Carrizo Springs,
They spent three days harvesting a guess-timated 200 tons of olives. From these babies, they expect to get 90 barrels of extra-virgin olive oil. This year, they’ll probably sell it in bulk, but by next year, they want to put their own label on it.
The partners–led by Dallas businessman Jim Henry–have stuck at this through thick and thin for about a decade. Theirs is not the first Texas olive oil operation, but the Texas Olive Ranch is the biggest. And so far–keep your fingers crossed–it hasn’t suffered the freeze damage that has hit others hard.
I went down to see what was up and got to watch the harvester shake the trees (forget about the romance of gnarled ancient olive trees and rustic farmers picking the fruit by hand; this harvester looks like the piece of modern agricultural equipment it is). I saw the shiny, just-picked olives tumble out of the bins and emerge at the other end of the presser as EVOO! The stuff has a wonderful green smell, and is quite mild and a little peppery. Jim says that the flavor will change as the trees mature, which should be in about three years.
It’s exciting to be present at the beginning of a new Texas cash crop. Or so we all hope.

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