November in the olive grove is business time.
In November, no one gets a day off. Days are spent harvesting the olives from the trees and everyone mucks in to make sure the harvest is completed before the weather changes. It’s a time of hard work and lots of activity. Especially if you want to get the best out of your olives. Which, of course, our farmers do.
Here’s how it works:
Handpicking vs a good shakedown
Olive picking can be done in lots of different ways.
One method is to grab the tree by its trunk and give it a really good shake. The olives then drop off the tree where they are picked up by hand. While it’s a fast and effective way to harvest olives, it’s not very good for the tree itself. So we don’t like to use this method.
Our farmers are all about picking by hand. It takes longer but it makes for better oil. Since they are not able to climb all the trees, they use small electric brushes to get the olives from the uppermost branches. They're basically very long sticks that tease the top most olives to drop off. Sometimes an old fashioned wiggle is the best way.
A hi-tech wash and blow dry
Once all the olives have been hand harvested, then the high-tech process begins. After picking, the olives are washed and given their own blow dry to make sure any stones, leaves and dirt are removed. Any damaged olives are also taken out during the washing process. The beauty of washing the olives in this way is that you don’t mix oil and water later on in the process.
A whizz and a spin
Our olives are processed within six hours of harvesting. The sooner you do this, the more flavour you retain. Olives oxidise quickly which affects the taste and health properties, so it’s pretty crucial to get them washed and pressed as quickly as possibly. After the washing and drying is completed, we slowly turn the olives into a pulp by using a technique similar to a passe-vite (the method you use for making tomato soup).
It’s done over a low temperature so as to retain as much flavour and goodness as possible. The pulp then goes into a centrifuge which helps to separate the oil from the kernels and the water. The olive oil is propelled outwards and once collected, we pour it into bottles.According to our farmers, the faster you get the oil into the bottle, the better the taste. Given they’ve been making the finest olive oil for centuries, we’re not going to argue with them.
Work hard, eat well, sleep, repeat
This process is repeated everyday until the harvest is complete.
It might sound quite stressful but it’s actually a lot of fun. Everyone pitches in to bring the harvest in and then sit down to dine together after a hard day’s work. Since most people do their best work on a full stomach, this is very much a part of the harvest process.
Autumn is a wonderful time for cooking and eating. Game is in season as well as a host of autumnal vegetables. Pumpkins, parsnips, salsify and all those wonderful veg that come into their own in this crisp, bright season. We like to roast these veg in the oven, with a little rosemary or truffle oil drizzled over the top.
Our Truffle and Rosemary come in these handy little bottles and you can buy both in our new Fall package for just €25.
The perfect reason to eat in season.
Happy Autumn to you all.