A lovely November day, our friends gathered to help and we enjoyed a pleasant day picking olives. It’s a steady job, and no, we don’t grab hold of the tree and shake it, although I know the big machines do that in the large olive groves.
Fortunately, we only have 30 trees, some more productive than others, so we comb them off with our hands. The big fat ones are always just out of reach, even after you’ve climbed the ladder.
We picked 145 kilos which produced 23 litres of extra virgin olive oil. Not a bad start. There are plenty more on the trees, not yet quite ripe, and we now have rain, so they’ll have to wait.
We paused for a substantial lunch of chilli and fruit crumble, washed down with plenty of wine. Those still sufficiently sober continued picking into the late afternoon, after which we loaded up the sacks and took them to our local cooperativa.
Jess keeps an eye on us to check we do the job properly.
Here's the crop all ready to go. Not a particular good one this year due to a dry spring. But there are still more olives yet to ripen.
David backs up to the weighing platform.
Tony helps him to unload and tip the olives out into the press.
Here the crop is being taken up the conveyor belt.
Our olives are tested in the office for the correct level of acidity.
A lorry comes next and starts to unload.
He has a much bigger crop than us.
Some interesting facts about olive oil:
Olives were first grown in Crete between 5 and 7 thousand years ago.
There are about 700 cultivated varieties of olives. Wild ones are much smaller.
The tastes can vary from peppery to nutty, grassy or like green apples.
It can provide food, fuel, timber and medicine, and is a preservative.
You can use it as a furniture polish. Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar. Place in a spray bottle, shake well. Spray furniture lightly. Wipe off with a clean cloth or kitchen roll.
Olive oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon but unlike other cooking oils it is rich in vitamins A and E, and actually good for you.
It is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and known to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is mono unsaturated, rich in vitamins, iron, oleic acid, sodium and potassium, and can improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
Olive oil has many other health giving properties. It is good for the digestion, helps to lower blood sugar levels, and can even be used to relieve the pain of burns, itches, stings and insect bites.
Best of all, olive oil encourages cellular growth, helps healing and slows down the aging process.
Olive oil as a beauty aid:
For dry and brittle hair
After shampooing, rinse your hair with a mix of half a cup of olive oil and beaten egg. Leave on for 15 minutes covered with a plastic cap before rinsing clean.
Warm half a cup of olive oil and apply liberally to your hair. Wrap in a towel for 30 minutes, then shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to 2 tablespoons fresh cream. Smooth on the face and leave for 10 minutes. Wash your face with warm water.
Soak your nails in a small bowl of warm olive oil with a squeeze of lemon or rose water, to add a nice scent.
Olive oil is also good for softening hands and feet, moisturising cuticles, removing mascara and eye liner, or mix with a touch of lavender essential essence and add to your bath water. It can be used in place of shaving cream, will clear up acne (add 4 tablespoons of salt to 3 tablespoons of olive oil), and even loosen chewing gum from hair.
Olive oil is a miracle product provided for us by nature.