“Americans don’t know what real olive oil is supposed to smell or taste like,” says Tom Cortopassi, Senior Managing Parter of Lodi, California’s Corto Olive Co., which has devised a system to harvest and process olives in a matter of minutes, for maximum freshness. “They’re being sold rancid oil and so that’s what they’ve come to think olive oil is supposed to taste like.”
Corto, along with a handful of other olive growers in California, has abandoned the old-fashioned traditional method of shaking ripe purple olives off full-size trees before scooping them up from the ground; instead, they now plant their olive trees in perfectly straight rows and trim them so they’re small enough to be enveloped entirely by specially-adapted grape-harvesting machines which can knock loose the stubborn green olives directly into the collection bins. From there they are driven straight to the oil mill where within an hour they’ve already been crushed and processed into hyper-fresh green oil.
David Garci-Aguirre is the olive miller in charge of Corto’s futuristic processing line, but he takes time out to help explain his next-generation product: “Antioxidants produce a peppery note which, when you’re tasting fresh olive oil, can make you cough. That’s how you know it’s good. Most olives worldwide are harvested when they’re overripe. If you’re consuming oxidized or fermented oil, you’re drinking oil that’s lost its freshness, its flavor and most of its health benefits.”