The word 'Bum' is a celebration of the asexuality of the nature of food and illustrates the necessity to understand how we process our food. I, for one, premise my health upon producing perfect toilet habits. Added to this is the necessity to raise awareness of our toilet habits and regular inspection of our stools as much as if we were inspecting those of animals. Likewise, the name generates an interesting dialogue and can only stimulate in the reader deep unconscious processes. The irony of the name though, laughable as it may sound, is that I work my ass off for pittance, but it is a lovely life.
Our products are always locally (in the social sense) produced. We emphasize the organic approach to our farming and gardening but that slight contamination may happen as a factor of proximity to inorganic processes. This could include spray drift or fertilisers obtained from animals maintained by non-organic means. Hence cultivated and wild foods are obtained under these premises.
Extra Extra Virgin Olive oil
My family run a 3 hectare finca a little inland from the sea in the area of LíAmetílla de Mar. These olives are grown amongst almond and carob in particular, and many natural herbs that colonise the arid landscape. We use no chemicals but simple mechanical means. I personally have worked on every tree on the land and have introduced indigenous methods of cultivation, including hand-picking every olive as we are adverse to the effects of power machinery on the trees. Because of the erratic climatic conditions this last decade the olives have to be picked earlier before the winds blow them off the trees, so we pick them just as they are going black from green. The oil is a blend of at least 4 types of olive, the Sevilenca (10-30%), the Morrut (70%), the Farga (rarely), and in particular the Arbequina olive (15%) that take its name from the Albages region of Catalonia in Northern Spain. These olives are cold pressed, and being the first extraction require a few days to settle into a clear, golden oil with a fruity flavour and a hint of almonds on the finish, a characteristic of this province. Being one of the best oils in Spain we also know that Catalonia has had to bolster the national market because international olive crops have suffered in recent time due to disease and unpredictable weather patterns.
Since we take our olives to the local cooperative contamination may partly occur with oil pressed from chemically-treated olives previousy processed in the use of the same equipment and molino (stone press). This cannot be helped but we comfort the consumer to know that excessive heat is not used for further extraction, only tepid water. Further contamination from wind-drift may also partly occur during fruiting periods in the application of herbicides but are minimal. As such, an inferiority of the oil will be labelled so and sold at a lower price. In fact, non-organic olive oil will be available in the future, as will be olive tea noted for its medicinal qualities.
Normal proceedure is to store the oil in a cool, dark place and sealed for a number of weeks or months to allow the sediment to stabilize and then the oil is rebottled into 5 litre new plastic containers without the sediment. During this period acidity will break down and make the oil more mellow. Our green oil (unripened fruit) measures at lower acidity because it is taken to the press soon after cropping, whilst the golden oil (ripened fruit) measures at a higher acidity, but this is changeable every season and depends upon the period of time fruit is left basking in the sun before being taken for pressing. Likewise fruit collected from the floor will be more fermented. Much of the oxidation that occurs in olives is due to their collection from the ground where a spiked cylindrical roller throws them into a tray. This perforates the fruit allowing air to penetrate. Because we mainly press our olives for oil the effects of the olive fly are not apparent even though they tend to affect crops only below 500m sea level. But it is my intention to bottle and preserve our olives in the future and only the best olives will be used for this purpose.
The extra epithet in the name describes an unrefined process where a little of the stone sediment collects at the bottom of the container. It is unharmful and is rumoured to contribute to its longer lasting preservation qualities. Anyhow, we would like to inform you that the extra "extra" in the name means that we only use virgins to pick the olives from the tree. Volunteers are welcome. (Ha Ha) See this weblink MolŪ d'Oli Tradicional for more in-depth historical information and the location where we press for our oil although the actual press is subject to change year after year.
Of the 2,000 known olives in the world, Spain is home to about 400. Their diversity is more incidental as cross-pollination from introduced varieties brought over by the Romans has slowly encroached across the whole Mediterranean landscape. The Arbequina olive gets its name from the town of Arbeca in Lleida where it was originally cultivated. The Arbequina olive is small and the trees are usually planted on hilly, inaccessible ground in some of the most stunning scenery in Catalonia.
Whole Carob Pods
The hero of my latest book is the carob tree, known since time immemorial by its epithets of Locust bean and St. Johnís bread. Relegated to cattle fodder in this time of economic crisis one may again look to its digestible properties as relevant food in a recession. High in carbohydrates (73%) it is essential survival food and will produce even in the scarcest of years. It is used in cosmetics and glues for it bonding properties but likewise has many other nutritional benefits. These include lowering of the cholesterol level in blood, acting as an antioxidant, contains an active substance effective against asthma, is a good expectorant for smokers, caffeine free, helpful in preventing lung cancer, contains vitamins E and is used for the treatment of cough, flu, anaemia and osteoclasis, its tannins have Gallic acid which is anti allergic and antibacterial as well being an antiviral and antiseptic, it is used for the treatment of polio and diarrhoea in children, and finally being rich in phosphor and calcium it is used to fight osteoporosis.
Carob pods are incredibly filling. I chew around the edges because the seed is very hard. They are a natural chocolate and sugar substitute if ground to a powder. I grate them to a rough breadcrumb texture and mix it in with flour for baking. If anybody has any good recipes or ideas please post them to me and I will ensure a free bag of pods next time I am around. I will also give you free advertising.
Of recent I have been drinking a combination of rosemary and olive leaf tea for its refreshing, slightly dry taste. A food nutritionist by the name of Theresa Webb BA Dip.NT.
recently spent some time volunteering and recommended olive tea for its medical qualities against cancer. See her article in theJanuary newsletter. I hope to packaged these by the year 2016.
For comment please email Merlyn