Friday, November 02, 2007

Pretty Darn Local

My super-awesome friend Sarah, a fellow Pasadena blogger, did much of the organizing (read people herding), some of the picking (read blackened fingers), and all of the websiting (read this) for Caltech's First Annual Olive Harvest. I had to work today--sometimes having a job, as we all know, gets in the way of having a life--so I couldn't volunteer, but I stopped by this afternoon after work to get an idea of how a prestigious science school harvests olives. Here's what I gleaned: they harvest olives like scientists would. Imagine that!

After volunteers harvested the olives this morning, they sent of the majority of the fruit to Santa Barbara to be milled and pressed; the happy workers milled what remained with this specially-designed contraption:

After milling, volunteers pressed them in another Caltech-designed machine, then sent the collected fluid off to the Bio lab to hit the centrifuges for quick separation, allowing them to taste the oil the same day they harvested olives.

To highlight the availibility of other local foods, organizers had set up tables of yummy local samplings and posted maps of the campus's "grazing spots," many of which hosted some remarkably delicious-smelling mints and geraniums.

Volunteers--hundreds of them--worked hard, but they celebrated their accomplishment at the end of the day in a grand, olive-themed feast.

The very local Caltech olive oil hits the bookstore in a few weeks. I'm counting the days to taste the product, and I've decided that next year, no matter what, I'm volunteering: it looks like far too much fun to miss out on a second time.


Sarah said...

Thanks for coming!! It was a super amazing fantastic day and an event I am so proud to have been part of. I will be in touch when I am back from my travels and whatnot!

Anonymous said...

And I missed you! GAH!:)

Susan in Italy said...

Wow! How impressive to take part in a real olive harvest and olive oil making day. In my in-laws' house in Greece, they do all this stuff by hand but I've never been there at the right time to witness.

Shaun said...

Christina - I miss the days of driving by Caltech when I used to live in Pasadena. I had no idea that they pressed their own olives. The locale has picturesque spots, so I bet sampling on site would have been lovely. How great that you get this experience after a hard day's work!

Wendy said...

I love that map! Great idea.
What was served at the olive-themed feast?

winedeb said...

Wow, that would be an experience not to miss! Looking forward to your report on your tasting of the olive oil! If I were you, next year when you "help out" at this event, be sure to have a loaf of crusty bread in your purse!

Lucy said...

How delicious that oil will be.

I'd love to have been a part of that process and the younger the oil, the less refined it's production, the more golden, viscous and fragrant it is...

Christina said...

Sarah: Thanks again for guiding us around.

Tableau Vivante: We will cross paths again--I'm sure of it.

Susan in Italy: I didn't get to do any of the work yet, but next year I will. It is some finger-staining business, but the payoff is so grand (like most finger-staining businesses), that it is more than worth it.

Shaun: This is the first annual olive harvest at Caltech, following several years of "unofficial" harvests. I hope it become a grand part of the Caltech tradition.

Wendy: I love the map too--I think it is a really smart idea. Let's see, they served bread and olive oil, all kinds of marinated veggies and salads, grilled vegetables, BBQ lamb, paella, citrus olive oil cake and olive oil sorbet, and other things too.

Winedeb: I should follow your advice all the time. It may not be a bad idea to keep a crusty loaf of bread on my person at all times, just for emergencies.

Lucy: Next year, I'll be there for the whole thing and give you as detailed a report as possible.

Anonymous said...

I was told to stop by and see your olive post. I'm glad I did! I wish I lived there because I would def volunteer. What a nice experience :) Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I so wish I could have been there for that! I saw it on the news and it looked so cool. Lucky you!