With concern of health care costs continuing to rise, residents are becoming more aware of the value of using virgin olive oil and other healthy foods.
Meeting those needs with their own local extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate jellies are Rich and Genine Macaluso working from their 20-acre Macala Orchards in Sage and warehouse outlet in Hemet.
What began as a weekend getaway from the hustle bustle of Orange County, where the Macalusos live and work, has become a love of growing and harvesting healthy olives and pomegranates and is fast becoming a growing online business. The business has drawn their daughter, Nina Morton, who is now the orchard’s Food Products marketing manager. The Macaluso family tend two other properties in Hemet with olive and pomegranate trees, olive and the small warehouse outlet.
Coming Saturday, Feb. 10, the Macaluso family will be offering the public a taste of their Macala Orchards olive oils, pomegranate juice and jellies during the first of two Winter Orchard Markets at 30026 Garnet Lane in Hemet. The market is held in their olive mill and pomegranate press located at the orchard.
Rich Macaluso said their love of olive, guava, pomegranate growing comes from their Italian heritage where their great grandfathers nurtured olive groves, enjoyed their fruits and raised goats in the Sicilian foothills and other parts of Italy. Visitors and the couples six grandchildren find the orchards, a fire pit, pizza oven, newly carved out “hip” campsites, picnic tables and other amenities reminiscent of an Old Italy farm and orchards. Special tours are offered visitors with reservations required.
Since starting their olive and pomegranate orchards in 2010 Rich, a man of vision, his wife and two farm hands have planted over 500 primarily Italian Varietal olive trees and 150 pomegranate trees, 25 guava trees and purchased a two-phase Olio Mio Mill that is certified “extra virgin” with the California Olive Oil Council. Their efforts to create a fine extra-virgin olive oil has paid off by winning a COOC gold medal for their 2014 harvest extra-virgin olive oil and a silver medal from the Orange County Fair in 2015.
Last year the Macala Orchards harvested more than 4 tons of olives producing 157 gallons of olive oil from their 13 varietals. They also harvested 1,400 pounds of pomegranates from the trees providing 35 gallons of juice, jellies and spreads. The Macala Orchards olive oils and pomegranates jellies have found their way to some local markets and health stores.
The term “extra-virgin olive oil” is given to the juice of cold-pressed olives that have not been filtered and contains important antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. In Macala Virgin Olive Oil vitamin-packed sediment can be seen in the bottom of the bottle and pours darker in color then refined olive oils.
Macaluso said making the best virgin olive oil was a learning process for him and spent many years reading up on everything olive oil. He was proud of the “wonderful” Mediterranean Melagrano Pomegranates they grow. His learning curve also included learning the art of propagation and used it to grow new olives trees in a specially made greenhouse on the property.
He said all the Macala Orchards are planted and raised organically with no artificial fertilizers or insecticide used.
“We have very clean orchards,” he explained that limit the diseases and fungus that attack the trees. “Fortunately, olive and pomegranate trees don’t take much water,” Macaluso said noting the recent drought did not reduce the crop yields, yet every tree is fed by a measured drip system. “We even use llama droppings for our fertilizers that does not attract flies and other damaging insects…everything is done and done correctly—organically.”
Offering area residents an opportunity to taste and try their products the Macalusos make at Macala Orchards they open the winter markets in February and March out of their warehouse shed on Garnet Lane off Newport Road in Hemet. The first Macala Orchards Winter Market will be Saturday, Feb. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the second Macala Orchards Winter Market Sunday, March 11, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Macala Orchard products can also be ordered on their webpage at www.macalacompanies.com or Facebook. Customers can also order or find the products available by calling (714) 305-8589.
Nina Morton invites those coming to the winter market, “just try the pomegranate juice and you will agree with this rating. If you like pomegranates, you will love the juice.”
The Macala Orchards products include the Macala extra-virgin olive oil, whole Pomegranates, pomegranate Spread, pomegranate jjelly, and limited quantities in season of Macala Guava jam, fig jam, Olive Leaf Tea, Lavender Tea, Fresh Lavender, Fresh Rosemary, Oregano made in the Macaluso’s kitchen. Some of the products are already sold out as shown on the website. Delivery is available in Southeastern Riverside County and parts of San Bernardino County.