|There are lots of yummy things grown in Southern California and 2 of them we saw this week are Graber Olives and The California Citrus Historical Park. The Graber Olive House is the oldest olive packing plant in the U.S. and while the olives have all been picked and canned for the year, we toured the packing plant which began in 1894. Their olive groves are in central California and picked when they are a cherry-red color. They are picked by hand and dropped into felt lined buckets to keep them from bruising. They are then shipped to Ontario where people pick out the "culls" as the olives roll down a conveyor belt. More than 1 million olives roll by the graders in an 8 hour shift! They then go through a machine which sorts them into different sizes. Each size goes down a different shoot and only the perfect ones are covered with the secret family brine in concrete vats where they are stirred, soaked and tended for 3 weeks. Then they move to the canning area where the cans are filled and sealed...next it's on the sterilization room where huge boilers heat the cans with 242 degree steam. Once they are dry the cans move on to the labeling room where the cans are run one by one through the labeling machine and packed in boxes. One of the most interesting things we learned was that the newest machine in the company was purchased in 1948! Graber Olives are known as a "gourmet's delight" because the taste is so different than canned olives we buy in the store. The California Citrus Historical Park in Riverside, CA grows over 50 different kinds of citrus fruits. Did you know there is a fruit called a "finger citron" or one that looks like a squash? Have you ever heard of a "pink lemonade lemon" or a "blood orange?" It was amazing to walk through the part of the park where one of every kind of citrus tree is grown. Riverside is also home to the oldest Naval Orange tree in the U.S. Two trees were shipped from Brazil as a gift and planted in 1873 which spawned California's entire citrus industry. It is called "California's second Gold Rush." Navel oranges have no seeds, so cuttings from the original trees were used to start navel orange groves in S. CA. Every navel orange grown in California is a descendant of this tree which is over 140 years old!. Only one of the 2 trees is still alive and producing fruit.