The Sciabica Family (pronounced Sha'-bee-ka) began pressing olive oil in California in 1936 with techniques that Nicola (Nick) Sciabica learned in Sicily as a young man at the turn of the last century. Joseph, Nicola's son ran the business from 1936 - 1996 . Though Joseph has now passed the daily business affairs on to his two sons Daniel and Nicholas, Joseph is a highly visible smiling salesman with missionary zeal for the family olive oils at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. He sports a variety of neon-colored wool vests and matching caps (pictured above) that his wife Gemma of 53 years crochets for him.
Time of Harvest Determines the Oil's
The Sciabica's specialize in producing varietal extra virgin cold pressed olive oils from 7 types of olives: Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, Barouni, Nevadillo, Picholine and Lucque. From 50 acres of trees, they can produce over 1,000 tons of olive oil each year.
The time of harvest of the olive plays an important role in determining the oil's characteristics. Olives can be harvested from Fall to Spring to yield totally different types of oils. Some varieties, like the Mission, have several seasonal styles which create additional flavor complexities.
* Olives harvested from September - November, when they are at an early stage of maturity, yield an oil that can be somewhat tart and green. These olive oils are offered under the Sciabica's "Fall Harvest" label.
* Olives harvested in December - February, when the fruit is riper, yield an oil with a sweeter flavor and more golden color. These olive oils are offered under the Sciabica's "Winter Harvest" label.
* Olives harvested in the Spring are fully ripe and yield an oil of such incomparable sweetness that it can easily be used in place of butter in all applications. These oils are offered under the "Mission Variety Limited Release", "Mission Variety Organic" and "Mission Variety Spring Harvest" labels.
The following is only a partial list of the varieties that Sciabica & Sons produce. For a more complete list, please visit their website at www.sciabica.com.
|Medium intensity; delicate fruitiness||Cold on vegetables; sautéing; bread spread|
|Buttery sweet; delicate||Pastry; baking; cold on vegetables; bread dip (replaces butter)|
|Fresh; vibrant; medium intensity||Cold on vegetables; sautéing; bread dip; pastry|
|Mission Organic||Soft; slight sweetness||Cold on vegetables; sautéing; bread dip; pastry|
|Buttery sweet; fresh delicate sweetness||Pastry and baking; cold vegetables; bread dip (replaces butter)|
|Robust with an intense olive flavor||Main dish oven baking and salads|
|Flavor reminiscent of artichokes||Salads and bread dipping|
|Barouni||Slight Greek olive flavor with a hint of artichoke||Salads|
|Freshest fruitiness; ages very slowly; long shelf life||Sautéing; salads; bread dipping|
|Lucque||Robust olive flavor; intense fruitiness||Main dish baking; salads; bread dipping|
|Marsala||Unique combined olive flavor; versatile; well-rounded||All applications|
Prices for a 12.7 oz. bottle of Sciabica's olive oils range from $ 10.00 for the Manzanillo Variety, which is the least expensive oil they offer, to $ 15.00 for some of the unfiltered varieties. The unfiltered oils are available only at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market and by direct mail order and only available when the Sciabica's are pressing. All of the other oils are available at the Market on a regular basis and by mail order by through their website.
All of the oils are made by the "cold press" method which extracts the oil from the olives by simply spinning them in a centrifuge.
The also offer flavored oils, vinegars, gourmet olives, tomato sauce and ground canned tomatoes.
Award-Winning Olive Oil
For 8 consecutive years (1988 - 1995), Sciabica's olive oils have won gold medals from culinary associations. In the last 3 years that the California State Fair and Exposition was held (1959, 1960, and 1961), the Sciabicas won gold medals each year. They've also won 2 gold medals from Chefs of America for "Best of Show". They were also featured in the Jan/Feb 2000 issue of Saveur Magazine and in the April 1997 issue of Wine Spectator.
Stop by the Sciabica's stand to pick up some olive oil (that's even good enough to drink straight from the bottle!!) and get some of Gemma's recipes using olive oil including: Sesame Biscotti, Ravioli with Walnut Sauce, Baked Scallops, Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, Focaccia, Blueberry Coffee Cake, Apple Muffins and Stuffed Peppers. Her cookbook, Gemma Sciabica's Treasured Family Recipes Cookbook, is now available for $21.50.
Updated January 2001
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