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Ode to olives

Family business launched in 1912 is now one of the world's largest table-olive producers.


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It's probably the most widely recognized olive brand in America and it starts right here in California. Lindsay Olives, under the parent company of Bell-Carter Foods, produces more than 10 million cases of olives every year. One of Bell-Carter's growers is Scott Patton, who has 200 acres and is one of many family farmers who supply the company with Manzanilla olives.

"I look after these olives all year long, so they are almost like my babies," Scott said.

Thanks to the hard work of Scott and other family farme rs, Bell-Carter has grown to become one of the largest table-olive processors in the world. At the heart of the business is the fruit. It arrives at the processing plant within 24 hours of being picked, then olives are sized and sorted. Although the olives are initially green and bitter, they undergo a special curing process to turn them into those familiar California black olives.

"They can tree ripen but for the nice firm, black California olive, we actually want the greenest, firmest olive that we can get and we'll have a seven-day process that will turn it into a beautiful black, shiny California olive," said Steve Henderson of Tehama County-based Lindsay Olives.

But what about those olive pits? They are removed from the black olives using a process brothers Arthur and Henry Bell helped to invent back in the 1930s. Afterwards, the olives are canned, sterilized and labeled. Then they're off to a pizza chain, restaurant or grocery store near you.

For more information about Bell-Carter Foods and Lindsay Olives, visit www.lindsayolives.com.


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