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A green deal: Evoo in a box

December 16, 2008 |  1:26 pm

Yellingbo_cask_4l_small_pic_2I go through a lot of olive oil during the holidays, which I can tell by checking my dwindling bank account balance -- and the number of bottles in my recycling bin. Yellingbo Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a family-owned and operated company in Australia, has come up with a nifty solution to both problems: They're offering their evoo in eco-friendly, 4-liter casks online at wholesale prices.

The oil, a blend of hand-picked and cold-pressed Manzanillo, Leccino, Frantoio and Barnea olives, is packaged in casks designed to prevent oxidation. They're made of recycled materials, with a handy drip proof tap. 

Yellingbo Gold is run by the father-and-son team of Howard and Jeremy Meltzer on the 100-acre family farm in Yellingbo (pictured, below left), about an hour outside of Melbourne in the Yarra Valley, a region known for it's vineyards.

Jeremy Meltzer says that the family business began by accident 10 years ago, when his father planted the olive trees.

"We left him alone one weekend, and by Monday he'd planted 3 1/2 thousand olive trees," said Meltzer by phone from New York this morning.  "It went from there." The Meltzers started bottling their evoo four years ago. The younger Meltzer came up with the cask idea this summer, when he filled up an old wine cask with olive oil to give to friends who had come over to the farm to help with the olive-picking.

Olive_oil_2"The tins end up rusting in landfills," said Meltzer of alternative packaging for bulk evoo.

He also explained the stylized bird logo on the label: it's a helmeted honeyeater, an endangered Australian bird that lives in the Yellingbo Conservation Nature Reserve that is right next to the Meltzer farm.

The birds, it seems, like to fly around the olive trees.

Mellow and buttery, with notes of apple and caramel, the olive oil is great to cook with, and as a finishing or dipping oil. Not a bad gift too, for cooks with high evoo use. 

Yellingbo Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4-liter cask, $65 online at www.yellingbo.com.  For an additional 20% off bottles until Dec. 31, enter code #UN1208.  Code and price are effective until Jan. 1, after which the price will rise to $75.  500 ml bottles of Yellingbo are available at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Sur la Table and other retailers, about $19; for a complete list, check the website. Five percent of all profits from sales are donated to the Jasmine Foundation, a charity created by Jeremy Meltzer to benefit children orphaned by the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami.

-- Amy Scattergood

Photos of Yellingbo cask and Howard and Jeremy Meltzer at their farm, courtesy Jeremy Meltzer.