The following is a Guest Post by Lori Pace and is in partnership with the California Olive Committee.
It is time to put candles on the cake and to sing “Happy Birthday” to the great state of California! To celebrate this festive day of September 9th, I thought I’d pay tribute to one of the state’s tastiest gems, California Ripe Olives. First, a little history lesson, then we’ll dig into a super yummy recipe.
In 1769, the first olive cuttings were planted in California at the San Diego Mission. As most transplants do, they responded quite well to the California climate-sunny days, cool nights, fresh air-and they set their roots. Thus began a long and fruitful production of one of the most popular fruits in the world!
Started for the primary use to press for olive oil, the whole olive was not really produced at the time. When a women named Freda Ehmann and her son, realized their trees did not produce enough olives for oil, they started growing California Ripe Olives on their back porch. Decades later, olives are no longer grown on the back porch, but Freda’s process is still in use today creating a distinctively American Olive taste.
California now produces over 95% of the olives grown in the United States and the best part is that they are not grown in big industrial farms. Multi-generation farming families work hard to bring a high-quality olive from the grove to your pantry.
Olives add a creamy, distinct taste to any recipe and can really make them shine. Take Watermelon, Mint and Olive Salad. It may seem odd to pair olives with watermelon and mint, but olives actually help balance the sweetness of the watermelon and the tang of the fresh mint. To bring the flavor out even more, I add olive oil to the dressing to really make this salad one to remember!
This salad is a perfect, cooling side to any meal or a wonderful dessert. Since watermelon is grown in San Joaquin Valley and mint also enjoys the bright sunshine and moderate temperatures of California, you can have a California-centric dish that bursts with flavor.
3 cups of cubed watermelon
1/4 cup fresh mint, torn up
2 Tbsp California Ripe Olives, sliced
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 table spoon real honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt
In a bowl, add the watermelon, mint and California Ripe Olives. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, olive oil and salt together. Whisk until blended and pour over the watermelon mixture. Mix gently and serve!