The Olive Harvest – Il Raccolto

Friends of ours asked us to help them pick their olives this Autumn, which we were delighted to do! Seasoned hands may say our naïveté prevailed, but we need to get a sense of what it’s all about for the future. An olive grove is of course part of our plan…

We found the process of picking olives therapeutic – after 20+ years of managing systems projects and marketing strategies, it felt good to actually produce something for a change! It was also strangely calming being in the olive groves all day, surrounded by nature on chilly mornings and warm afternoons and, needless to say, we slept well each night.

250 trees were split into two batches as you need at least 400kg to have your olives milled exclusively at the Frontaio (olive mill) and not mixed with anyone else’s. So the first batch took 5 days to pick with 2-4 of us picking every day, from 09.30 – 13.00 (break for pasta lunch, of course!!) then 14.00 – 16.30.

An excellent first parse saw 400kg of olives picked which produced 150 litres of oil – the ultimate first pressing of the season for beautiful, verdant, unctuous, pure virgin olive oil. The maths behind it all certainly explains why pure, extra virgin olive oil is so expensive per litre – and that’s if you pick yourself and don’t have to pay staff!

This first batch of olives was very green which produced an oil with a very grassy, almost spicy taste. Olive oil is best tasted on a piece of white, lightly toasted bread rubbed with raw garlic, and a sprinkle of salt.

A fascinating process all round, we were there every step of the way; watching, noting, learning… tasting… and we’ve already volunteered to help again next ‘Raccolto’.

Here’s a breakdown of our experience and the amazing process of producing olive oil!

Here’s a link to the second gathering, a couple of weeks later, when the olives were a little blacker…

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