Viewpoints from Aussie Cuisine
Olive farming in Australia originated in the early 19th century, with the first documented olive groves cultivated near Parramatta, NSW, in 1805. ‘The olive tree beside the carriage loop at Elizabeth Farm is quite likely the oldest in the country, planted in 1805 having been brought back to the colony from Europe by John Macarthur on board the Eldon,’ points out the author.
According to a letter written by Elizabeth Macarthur in 1831, olive oil was produced in a small scale from the olive tree at Elizabeth Farm: ‘at Parramatta there is a great change for the better in Aunt Eliza’s garden, as the children call it, even William pays a tribute to your sister’s perseverance and attention to horticulture. Our Portugal laurel [olive tree] has blossomed beautifully this year. We have made a small quantity of olive oil and we have had capers for our boiled mutton.’ Australia, due to its ‘Mediterranean climate’ in some regions, has witnessed great growth in the production of high quality olives and olive oil ever since those early times in the colony.
Many imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil brands retailed in Australia are not considered fresh enough to be classified as extra virgin. Chefs in Australia should be incorporating our local olive oil into their dishes, instead of using imported Greek, Italian, Spanish and Californian olive oil, as the local olive oil is fresher and has low food miles.