07 Apr

Florida: Marion couple looks forward to seeing olive crop come in

By Lora E. Ide,

Jean Cloud and her husband, Cary, toast their work at their olive tree nurseryBeginning April 17, from 8 a.m. to noon, and each Thursday thereafter, there will be a farmers’ market at On Top Of the World. To learn more, visit the Web site www.circlesquarecommons.com/
farmersmarket/index.html.

After 12 years of growing the exotic trees, more often seen in California or in Mediterranean countries, the two believe they are getting close.

Some of their 1,200 trees have sprouted buds that turn into tiny white flowers. But unlike other fruit trees commonly seen in Florida, it’s a long process from flowering tree to edible olives.

“You pick olives off the tree, but you have to prepare them before you can eat them,” Cary Cloud said.

The olives must be put into correct amounts of rock salt, olive oil and other ingredients and be tasted after about six weeks. They continue to cure until they taste right and then are pickled for storage and later use.

The Clouds, who live north of Dunnellon, named their nursery Pepper Hill Growers. They have traveled to Europe to research olive growing and curing processes.

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