October 28, 2017 - Today we were in Ontario to visit the Graber Olive House since their annual canning operation begins today. Californians of today are indebted to the foresight of the Franciscan missionaries from Spain, who planted the first olive trees at the Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769. C.C. Graber purchased land in Ontario in 1894 and discovered olives, as cured by the early ranchers, to be one of the finest food delicacies of California. Graber Olives are fully tree ripened with a delicate, rich flavor and they do have a succulent texture. The Olive House is still family owned and operated.
Our tour began in the warehouse, which is accessed through the gate.
The olives, which are grown in the California Central Valley, are shipped here to be cured.
All of the Graber olives are canned and it's a noisy operation.
Each worker has a wooden fork that lifts eight cans at a time from the pallet.
All of the olives are sorted by size. The sorting operation wasn't going on today.
The empty cans from the other room are transported by conveyor into the packing room.
The cans are placed under the holes on the revolving disk and are filled by the workers.
After each can is filled, it gets placed on another conveyor to bring it to the sealing operation.
Water is added to each can and the machine presses the lid onto the can. A worker is shown replenishing the lid supply.
The cans are placed in steel cages to be heated and pasteurized.
Three full steel racks go into the oven and are heated for 62 minutes to kill any bacteria that may be present.
After processing, the cans are cooled here for over one week.
After they're cooled, the labeling process begins. Our guide, Clare, explains how it works.
This is the main store that has a little bit of everything including their selection of olives and olive oil.
There's a small museum here as well showing the history of the company.
After visiting Graber's we went to the Ontario Museum of History & Art to see a special exhibit partnered with the Graber family. "The Women Beside the Men of the Graber Olive House" uncovers the women who contributed to the family business as both entrepreneurs and visionaries. For the first time, the Graber family is sharing personal artifacts from Betty Graber and other family matriarchs. It was very interesting to see the back story of the family, which records were kept by the women of the family.
These specially made olive utensils, mostly in sterling silver, were fascinating.
Between the Olive House and the Museum, we stopped at the Bucket Crabs & Crawfish for lunch. This is one of those wild seafood restaurants where everything is boiled and served in a plastic bag smothered with sauce. Their "Medley Sauce" contains lemon juice, pepper, garlic, butter and Cajon seasoning. When you eat here, you know it's going to be messy. Judy had the shrimp, cooked whole and served with the head and the tail, and I had their mussels.
This is what it looked like after we were finished. By the way, Judy hid her heads and tails in the paper towels.
The food was delicious and today happens to be our 24th wedding anniversary, so our adventure was lovely!
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