Olive Varietals Spotlight: Coratina
BY FRANCESCA VAN SOEST MAY 26th, 2020
Time for another olive varietal spotlight and this one is one of my personal favorites, Coratina.
Coratina olives are one of my favorites because of their floral, peppery oils, and the fact that the fruit itself has an extremely high oil content, making it a dream to mill.
Coratina olives as single varietal groves are not very widespread in the California olive industry on a large scale, however, more and more trees are being planted because of the tree's ability to adapt to new environments and its high oil yielding fruit. This tree does not work in the Super High Density (the hedgerow style plantings that work for Arbequina and Arbosana olives) grove model and therefore can be found in the newer, and older, Medium Density model groves. The fruit ripens later in harvest, and the oil is of exceptional quality because of its high polyphenol count, giving the Coratina oils their classic peppery persona. This peppery finish has not been historically high in popularity because of North American's preference for milder, buttery oils. However, with the rise in popularity and awareness of high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), people have begun to appreciate the peppery oils for their added health benefits and begun moving away from the milder Arbequina and Arbosana olive oils that have been the standard for years.
The fruit size is on the larger side and the shape is oval with no nose. The skin is a light yellow/green color and has many small freckles. As mentioned above, Coratina olives are high oil yielding, and the oil is very high quality because of its high polyphenol content.
The Coratina tree itself is adaptive to new environments and will begin to produce fruit from a very young age. It has a high rooting ability and because of this, it is particularly susceptible to sooty mold and wood rot. It is, however, exceptionally tolerant of cold, something that is a very useful attribute in the sometimes colder than normal winters in California. The canopy is full and the leaves are dark green on top with a silvery underside.
Because of Coratina's high antioxidant levels, the oils tend to be quite robust. However, if you let them ripen just a little further than what you see in the image above, the oil will get a fantastic tropical nose and taste. Because of this, Coratina has a wide variety of food pairings, from simple pasta dishes to a robust flavorful dressing on a spicy arugula salad.