From the soils of Wilcox County to Beyonce’s dinner plate, Oliver Farm’s green peanut oil has made huge strides from its humble beginnings. The creation of this new oil almost never happened though and it is due to life circumstances that it was even created in the first place.
It all began in 2008 when Clay Oliver, now founder and owner of Oliver Farm’s Artisan Oils, took over the farm due to his father’s passing with help from his brother and mother. At the same time the economic recession hit America, forcing Oliver to deal with soaring fuel prices which hit a record high in fall 2008. As a way to make the farm more sustainable, Oliver began looking into biofuel production.
“Initially I intended to grow sunflowers, press out the oil, and make biofuel,” said Oliver, “As I began researching the process I met a couple of people along the way that suggested I make food grade oil instead. I learned about the cold press method of extracting oil and soon I had a dream of growing, pressing and making oil from seeds and nuts native to the South.”
In the fall of 2012, Oliver bought a press and by the end of the year had extracted oil from sunflowers, pecans and finally…peanuts. By 2013, Oliver had formed Oliver Oil Co, LLC which included a small factory to process, bottle and label the different artisan oils.
“We take fresh shelled raw Georgia runner type peanuts and extract the oil with a press at much lower temperatures than commercially produced oils,” says Oliver, “The taste is like you are putting a fresh shelled peanut in your mouth and eating it.”
The taste is what ultimately drew James Beard award winner and owner of Miller Union, Steven Satterfield to the product. Satterfield is still credited to this day as the inspiration for distinguishing the peanut oil as “green” due to its buttery enhanced peanut flavor.
“Satterfield loved it and soon spread the word about this peanut oil to his peers. This unique oil continues to grow in popularity with chefs who seek out fresh, flavorful and often rare ingredients.” says Oliver, “It is great inspiration for me anytime I get to visit a restaurant that uses our oil and to feed off their enthusiasm is awesome. Their stories of how we have allowed them to use flavors they have never used before is amazing.”
Oliver’s green peanut oil popularity soon earned him national exposure, bolstering a growing wholesale customer base and created a following of “foodies.” Oliver Farm Artisan Oils was recognized by Garden & Gun as the 2015 In The South winner and also won a 2016 Good Food Award. Shortly afterward, the New York Times did a feature on Oliver Farm Green Peanut Oil.
“I mean I never dreamed a peanut farmer from Pitts would be in an article with the likes of Beyonce, Sean Brock, and Wolfgang Puck,” said Oliver. “Sales of our green peanut oil went through the roof and we continue to get feedback from the article.”
Oliver Farm’s green peanut oil was recently featured at the National Peanut Board’s 2017 Millennial Food Summit in St. Helena, California. Available in original and spiced versions, green peanut oil is versatile in its applications. It’s used in Spiced Dark Chocolate Peanut Muffins, Basil & Peanut Pesto, Ginger Peanut Vinagrette and Green Peanut & Pulses Hummus. Here is a green peanut oil recipe produced from the summit:
Peanut-Crusted Scallops with Warm Green Peanut Oil Citrus Vinaigrette
8 diver scallops, rinsed and dried
· 1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts nuts
· Salt and ground black pepper to taste
· 2 eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/4 cup green peanut oil
· 1 shallot, finely chopped
· 1 1/2 cups green peanut oil, plus more for sautéing
· 1/2 cup dry white wine
· 1 orange, juiced
· 1 lime, juiced
· 1/4 cup chopped basil
To make the scallops, use a rotary cheese grater to grate the peanuts into a bowl, or chop using a knife. Season the scallops with salt and black pepper. Dredge the scallops in the flour, removing any excess. Coat the scallops in the beaten eggs, covering them completely. Dredge the scallops in the grated peanuts.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Heat an oven-safe pan over medium heat and add the oil. When very hot, place the scallops in the pan. Brown on one side until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn onto the other side and place the pan into the oven until done, about 4 minutes. The scallops should be golden brown and firm to the touch.
To make the vinaigrette, warm part of the green peanut oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the shallots until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce until almost gone, add orange juice, and lime juice and reduce to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes and whisk green peanut oil to finish the dressing, season with salt and black pepper to taste..