We just finished our olive harvest this year, and WOW did we have a bumper crop! We are leaving Umbria tomorrow and won’t be back until next April so we had to get our olives picked and harvested before we left. We usually pick our olives pretty early every year (most of our neighbors wait until at least mid November) but we prefer to get a very young oil which has a real bite to it. If you wait until November or later when the olives are more mature, you will get more olive oil, but it will be milder in flavor. Every year we try and guess just how many olives we will have to pick and although it LOOKED like we had a lot this year, we just weren’t sure it was that many more than 2012. Surprise! We ended up needing three days, not two to pick, and ended up with over 40 cases of olives this year. Last year in total over two days we picked 16 cases, 900 pounds of olives which yielded 65 liters of oil. This year we ended up with 2 1/2 times more olives on our trees, and after a trip to the frantoio, or olive mill, to have them pressed we are now the owners of 130 beautiful, bright green liters of extra virgin olive oil. The olive fairies must have been very busy this year!
Day one we picked from sunrise to sunset with the help of an Italian friend and only stopped for a quick lunch. We picked 16 cases on our first day and worked really well together. Day two we started early once again, and had our friends Giselle and Mark join us three mid morning. We worked until 5pm because we had to get to the mill for our 6pm appointment. Both of our first two days of picking were glorious with bright blue skies and warm temperatures and we were picking olives by mid day in short sleeves. We took a couple of days off and then tackled the last of the trees on day three. The third day started off really foggy and wet and it was not as much fun to pick. There was our original three picking and we were all soaking wet after an hour or so. The sun finally did show up, but not until after lunch and we finished picking the last 8 cases by 3:30pm before heading off to the mill once again.
The tools assembled the night before.
Just after daybreak, laying down the first net.
The first tree picked! 99 more to go!
1 full case from the very first tree should have been a clue that we had a LOT of olives this year!
Our system day one – Gino climbs into the tree, Louie gets on the ladder, and I pick from the ground.
Gorgeous colored olives!
Lunch of Tuscan Bean Soup, salumi, cheeses, and homemade bread.
Our olive supervisor Luca.
A mix of 3 different varities of olives, some now black while others were still green gives the oil more depth of flavor.
16 cases picked on Day one.
Foggy start to Day Two
Mark picking on the slope where most of our trees are located. Tricky to net, and hard on the leg muscles!
Giselle using the rake.
Giselle & Mark brought their two dogs Stella & DJ to play with Luca. Was a bit of a rough start but in the end they all got along.
End of Day Two – Louie & Mark taking the cases to the cars to be loaded.
Gino helping to load the 32 cases from Day One & Two into the two cars to head to the Frantoio.
At the olive mill emptying the caes into the bins.
We filled three full bins this year!
Taking our olives over to be weighed.
After being weighed the olives are dumped into a bin and sent up a conveyer belt where they are shaken to remove the leaves.
Next the olives go into the bath to get sparkling clean. Notice the olive pits on the left side.
Once they are separated from the leaves and are washed they then head into the mill to be pressed.
The olives are turned into pulp.
Watching the olives move through the process.
View of the inside of Frantoio Vanducci
Our two 50 liter tins waiting for oil.
FINALLY! And yes, it really is THAT green!
Louie very happy with our gorgeous new oil.
A VERY foggy and wet morning of picking.
Our chickens were let out to free range while we picked the tree in the chicken coop.
The chicken coop tree was left for last. Not an easy tree to net or pick but netted over a full case.
So, after three full days of picking ……..
970 kilo’s/2140lbs of olives produced 120 kilo’s/264lbs of oil or about 130 litres of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold pressed from our property! Now we need a rest!