OLIVE TAPENADE FROM GRABER OLIVE HOUSE IN ONTARIO
By: Sara De Leeuw
Hidden on a quiet, tree lined residential street in Ontario is Graber Olive House!
I’m almost ashamed to admit, I have lived in Ontario for almost 30 years, and this was my first visit to Graber Olive House. Though, I can tell you, it won’t be my last! The staff is knowledgable and fun. They are so welcoming! It was a pleasure to visit. While I was there, I took a tour of the historic canning facilities, saw the Casa del Olivo and La Casita gift shops. There is even a small museum on the property.
Founder of Graber Olive House, C.C. Graber, began curing olives in 1893 after tasting local olives cured by neighboring ranchers. His olives became so popular that in 1894, Graber Olive House was born! At first, olives were sold to neighbors, off horse-drawn carriages, by the dipper-full, from the very barrels used to cure the olives. As the business expanded, C.C. developed a rope-propelled system to sort olives into uniform sizes and in 1910 began canning his olives. A few years later, in 1934 the barn was transformed into a cannery, and equipment from that year is still in use today!
This unique, family owned business has remained virtually unchanged over the last 120 years. What makes Graber Olives so unique? Graber olives are allowed to completely mature on the trees, reaching their full tree-ripeness before being harvested. Sometimes this means pickers return to same tree up to seven different times waiting for the olives to be at their peak. All of Graber Olives are carefully hand-picked, but only when they are ready. Graber Olives focus on “quality, not quantity,” and all the olives from their 75 acres of olive groves in Porterville come to Ontario every year to be processed.
The olives are hand-sorted, then placed in one of 550 concrete vats to cure for nearly three weeks before being canned. It’s truly a little bit of old fashioned history! Even the process of canning and labeling at Graber Olive House is done by hand or on equipment (the newest equipment was purchased in the 1950s!) that reflects the tradition of this historic establishment. Graber Olives are never oxidized either. What that means is the olives come out in varying shades of green, redish-green, and some are even speckled! These olives have a rich, buttery, delicate flavor that is simply one-of-a-kind. Don’t believe me? Go visit! They offer samples of their delicious olives to anyone who arrives at their door.
During my visit, I met Cliff Graber and his son Robert. They are third and fourth generation olive growers with firm roots right here in the Inland Empire! Both are very proud of their olives and this amazing little business founded over a century ago! They were kind enough to give me some olives (and an olive pitter), which I used to create a simple Olive Tapenade.
Serve this tapenade as an appetizer, with cheese and crackers or as a light topping for fish. Frankly, eating the olives straight out of the can is my hands-down favorite way to go! It lets the beauty and delicacy of the olives shine. No matter how you decide to eat them, you will appreciate Graber Olives' unique, tree-ripened flavor!
1 can Graber Olives, pitted and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons roasted red bell peppers, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced lemon peel
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Graber Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a food processor, pulse olives, garlic, red peppers, parsley, lemon peel and black pepper until coarse.
Add extra virgin olive oil, and mix thoroughly.
Makes 1/2 cup
Want to visit Graber Olive house too? Here’s where you can find them!
Graber Olive House is located at 315 East 4th Street, Ontario. They are open seven days a week from 9:30a.m. to 5:30p.m. (except major holidays). For more information call them at (909) 983-1761 or visit their website.
Full Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Graber Olive House, however all opinions are 100% our own.