Olallieberries in Cambria
Learning to cook with Olallieberries at an historic inn in Cambria, California
Last Updated August 2021
(Disclosure: My visit to Cambria and Olallieberry Inn was hosted by San Luis Obispo County as part of a post-trip after the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) 2016 conference in Oxnard, California. Observations and opinions are my own.)
Do you know what olallieberries are? I didn’t until I visited the California town of Cambria.
Olallieberries are a cross between Loganberries (a cross between an heirloom blackberry and a European raspberry) and Youngberries (a hybrid of raspberries, blackberries and dewberries). The Olallieberry was first developed in 1949 at Oregon State University by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Olallie is a Native American word meaning “blackberry”. Olallieberry has the physical characteristics of a blackberry, but is genetically about two-thirds blackberry and one-third raspberry. The taste is reminiscent of blackberries with a bit more tartness.
Olallieberries are primarily grown in central California. They ripen in late June and early July. But the flavour can be enjoyed year-round. They have a fair degree of pectin and do well in preserves and jams.
I learned about olallieberries at a Bed and Breakfast bearing the name of the fruit – Olallieberry Inn. The house on Main Street was built in 1875 by Prussian brothers, pharmacists in Cambria. The house was made from Cambrian pine with redwood siding from trees in Bug Sur. The residence changed hands several times over the years. It was a Boarding House from 1955 to the mid 1970s. The house was restored in 1976 and has been run as a Bed and Breakfast since then. New owners Nelson and Maureen Hubbell are currently renovating and restoring the house.
I was not at the Inn to stay overnight. I was here to attend a cooking class, given by Marjorie Ott, previous owner of the Inn, assisted by Maureen Hubbell, current owner. During her ownership of the Inn, Marjorie began offering cooking classes in the Inn’s commercial kitchen after many requests for recipes. Marjorie continues to teach classes under the new ownership. She was fun to watch and listen to, down-to-earth with useful tips and interesting tidbits of information. There were comments in our group suggesting she should have her own television show. We learned how to make olallieberry bars and a honey and fruit salad with spinach, canteloupe balls, strawberry halves, macadamia nuts and a dressing of olive oil, honey and olallieberry vinegar.
Linn’s Olallieberry Preserves were used to make the bars. In 1979 John and Renee Linn opened a Pick-Your-Own farm with olallieberries and vegetables. Over the years Renee turned her attention to making More Fruit-Less Sugar pies and preserves. The olallieberry flavour became a favourite with customers. Today the Linns ship gourmet goods nationwide from their store in Cambria and run a restaurant and café.
After the class, we sat down to sample a variety of olallieberry treats – olallieberry yogurt with the Inn’s homemade granola, honey and fruit salad, olallieberry pie and olallieberry bars. All delicious!
Cambria is a lovely town with Victorian houses in the historic east village, a vibrant arts scene with galleries, theatres, artisan crafts and shops in the west village, and beautiful coastal walks and views. You can read more about Cambria in Enchanting Cambria: History, Art and the Outdoors. For now I leave you with the Olallieberry Bar Recipe.
1 cup butter (8 ounces)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (10 ounce) jar of olallieberry jam
- Melt the butter in the saucepan. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
- Combine with the flour, oats, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix well. Mix in the nuts.
- Reserve 1 cup of the flour/oat/nut mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Spread with olallieberry jam and sprinkle with the reserved flour/oat/nut mixture over the top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Olallieberries is a new one on me! But they sound delicious and the bars sound flavorful as well. Such a beautiful garden in the back of the Olallieberry Inn in Cambria. Wonderful setting to enjoy a treat:)
Jacquie, the garden was gorgeous. It’s too bad I didn’t have time to sit and linger there for a while.
Donna, so glad you included the olallieberries bars recipe – looks wonderful and the pies look pretty tasty too.
We don’t have olallieberries here but do have a lot of blackberries and raspberries growing voluntarily and I’m going to try the recipe with a jam made from the two combined. Everybody loves bars and squares. BTW, what a gorgeous backyard.
Lenie, a jam with blackberries and raspberries combined sounds yummy. Add you could certainly use it in the Olallieberry Bar recipe.
Great photos and interesting to learn about olallieberries. Tried to translate the word but it wasn’t possible. Your recipes sound delicious.
Catarina, it’s interesting that you couldn’t translate olallieberries into Swedish. I suspect they are not common outside of California.
I have never heard of ollalieberries until now! The pies look absolutely delicious.
What a quaint inn. I would enjoy the peace and quiet if I stayed here for a few nights.
Phoenicia, I thought the inn was quaint too. And the pie was delicious.
I love staying in B&B’s and this one looks so inviting! Never heard of olallieberries and it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll never see a jar of them here in Maui, but I’ve copied the recipe because I’ll bet this would be yummy with any type of berry. Thanks for sharing Donna!
Marquita, I think the recipe would work with other berries too. It might be fun to experiment with different combinations.
Donna — what lovely photographs and I, too, had never heard of Olallieberries. I will have to look for the jam in my supermarket or maybe Whole Foods carries them. Thanks for the beautiful photo tour and recipe.
Thanks Jeannette. I don’t know how widely distributed olallieberry products are. Let me know if you find the jam.
Never heard of olallieberries. Guess they don’t travel far. I’d probably like it based on your description of the fruit as a kind of blackberry with a bit of added tartness.
Ken, I don’t think they are seen much beyond central California.
Hi Donna. I hadn’t previously heard of Cambria, CA, or the olallieberries. Looks like an awesome experience. Sorry I missed it!
Doreen, it was an awesome experience. I think you would have enjoyed it.
I’v e never heard of olallieberries either. They look pretty good though.
Jason, everything I sampled was pretty tasty.
I guess the consensus here is that we have not heard of those berries.
Seeing the photos of the cooking brought me back to my mom making berry pies etc. I will have to find some of these berries and try some of these recipes.
William, when I looked up more information on olallieberries I discovered a number of other berries I never knew existed. Lots of opportunity for different pies!
I lived in Southern California for three years and never heard of an Olallieberry! The Inn, with cooking class available, sure sounds like a fun place to visit and stay over. I love the history of the place and the eye-appeal of the berry dishes.
Rose Mary, you needed to go a bit north into central California to find olallieberries. I wondered how much the rest of California was familiar with them. Based on your experience, I’m guessing not much.
I love Olallieberries and they are unique to Central Cal. Can’t wait to visit this classic B&B and visit Hearst Castle as well!
Mary Ann, I’m glad I discovered olallieberries. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the B&B and Hearst Castle.
I live in N. California and was lucky to make a stop at Linn’s 23 or 24 years ago and have been a big Olallieberry fan ever since. Linn’s Fruit Bin had both a restaurant and a store in downtown Cambria that sold the best pie I’ve ever tasted. (The olallieberry pie looked just like the pies in your photos). Every time we drove down the coast, we would stop and pick up a few jars of the preserves:we always tried to make them last until our next trip but we weren’t very successful. Linn’s also sold olallieberry muffins and olallieberry tea.
I don’t travel as much as I used to travel, and olallieberry jam isn’t found in many places so I love that I can order the jam, tea and pies directly from Linn’s, and have it shipped to my home. I’ve sent many jars of Linn’s preserves to friends and family and everyone agrees that the berries are perfect. Not too sweet and not too tart! Thanks for the recipe- the bars didn’t last long but they were delicious!!
Vicki, the pies we sampled were Linn’s pies. I’m glad you tried the recipe and it turned out well for you. You’re quite the Olallieberry fan. I can understand why.