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Tarago Olives – Boutique Olive In West Gippsland, Australia

by JGE Team

Tarago Olives was established by a former airline pilot in 1966

Founded by Sam Cabbabe, Tarago Olives is a privately owned and operated boutique olive grove in West Gippsland, Australia – The premium olive producing region. Situated on the hill overlooking the Tarago Reservoir, Tarago Olives has 1200 olive trees of the Nevadillo, Manzanillo and Frantoio varieties.

Sam Cabbabe has lived the life of an adventurer.  After a 40 year career in the Middle East and Singapore as an airline pilot, when retirement approached, Sam bought 32 hectares of prime agricultural land overlooking the Tarago Reservoir catchment.



He planted 1000 olive trees on 4 hectares as a hobby and immersed himself in farming, planting native trees and set about learning how to produce the finest olives.  His first harvest in 2005 yielded just 400 kilos of olives.  This in turn made 80 litres!  Year on year, his crop has increased in size and improved in flavour and he planted 200 more olive trees.  He always limits the tree height to 3.5 metres.


The Olive Growing Process

As with all farming, the method the farmer uses greatly affects the quality, quantity and flavour of the fruit – the preparation of the soil, what the tree is fed, how it is pruned.  However, the weather also plays a significant part in shaping the quality of the crop and olive trees don’t like extremes ie wet feet or drought.  Tarago olives are grown without chemicals (where possible) on the sloping hills of Jindivick.

In 2008, working in conjunction with Tarago Catchment Sustainable Farms Project, Sam introduced a colony of Dung Beetles to his soil because of their many positive attributes.  When Dung Beetles bury their dung, the nutrients are incorporated into the soil at the plant root level, giving a natural beneficial boost feed to the roots of the olive trees.  The digging activity of the tunnelling beetles also aerates the soil enabling improved water absorption.



The trees are hand pruned, after which, Sam sprays white oil on his trees.  He then analyses the soil to determine what they are lacking and feeds them accordingly, supplementing whatever they lack.

The olives are harvested between May-July, by hand in small batches.  The trees are combed and the olives are gathered, washed, crushed, kneaded and the pumice is separated and removed from the oil.  Cold pressing occurs as soon as the olives are picked, to produce the finest tasting olive oil.


New Products Are On The Way

Being an entrepreneur, once he’d mastered producing exceptional olive oil, Sam created a variety of new products and set up a test kitchen.  He now produces unique products such as olive paste, olive paste jam and dried olive paste, and is putting the final touches on his cheese and chocolate olive range!  Unsurprisingly, his unique products have become favourites among the chefs of leading Melbourne restaurants.  He produces each product in sizes suited to individuals as well as commercial enterprises, with over 25 items in his range.



Flavours in olive oil are determined by factors such as the type of olive (varietal), ripeness at harvest, growing conditions (climate, soil type), crop maintenance (irrigation, pest control), handling of fruit from the tree to mill and the milling process itself.


Olive Jam


Olive jam is made with our own olive paste. Superb with cheeses or roast meats, fish or simply on a piece of bread or croissant. Once opened it needs refrigeration. 1.5kg is available for wholesale customers and restaurants.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil


A favourite among Melbourne’s leading chefs, this cold-pressed olive oil has fresh, grassy, lightly fruity characteristics, perfect for dressings, marinades, baking, mayonnaise, pesto, romesco, drizzled over steamed vegetables or on a baked potato, served with warm fresh bread, or tossed through fresh pasta. Olive oil matures, but fresh is best. Store airtight, in a cool dark place. In a sealed bottle, the oil will keep up to 2 years.


Olive Paste


Black olive paste is made with black kalamata olives. It is a great base for a tapenade and is superb in omelettes, spaghetti bolognese, pizza and risotto, added to a meat casserole or simply spread on a piece of bread or crackers. Made fresh in the kitchen, the paste has a long shelf life, but once opened needs refrigeration. 1.3kg is available for wholesale customers and restaurants.


Olive Powder


Black olive powder is made with black pickled kalamata olives. It is ideal as a replacement for salt and can be sprinkled onto tomatoes, avocado, scrambled eggs, fish, chicken or pizza, or any other food for an olive flavour. It can also be used as a flavouring during cooking. Available for wholesale customers and restaurants in 500g bags. Green olive powder is also available.




Pickled in salt brine, Tarago olives will keep for up to one year, but once opened need to be kept covered and refrigerated.


Top Tips

1. Keep olive oil stored in an airtight container in a dark cupboard away from heat.

2. Mix coarse sea salt with olive oil for a wonderful organic body scrub, which moisturizes as it exfoliates.

3. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to your bath – a luxurious way to relax your muscles and moisturize your skin at the same time.

4. Olive oil makes an excellent eye makeup remover and moisturises around the delicate eye area at the same time. Add a few drops to a cotton wool pad; the makeup will come away without rubbing.

5. Tarago olive oil is the perfect treatment for nails and cuticles. Simply rub a few drops into the cuticle area and around the nail. Cuticles stay plump and moist, and nails respond with a natural shine.



6. Opera singers use olive oil regularly. Many gargles with EVOO before singing to lubricate their vocal cords. Drinking little swigs of olive oil soothes and strengthens vocal cords.

7. Start the day with a couple of spoons of olive oil. Filled with antioxidants, it contains enough vitamin E for the day. It calms the stomach and protects the heart. It even helps with weight loss, by reducing the need for sugar, sending signals that you are full and increases your metabolism.

8. Substitute healthy EVOO for butter in baking.

9. People have baked with olive oil for centuries, particularly in the Mediterranean. Olive oil gives cakes and muffins a light texture and is far healthier for us than butter.

10. Olive oil is much lower in cholesterol and saturated fat content than butter. It produces lighter-tasting baked goods and allows the flavour of the other ingredients to come forth. Because olive oil contains vitamin E, it helps to naturally maintain the freshness of baked goods and creates moist cakes, biscuits and muffins.

Source: Tarago Olives Website

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