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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Olive Harvest Phase Two

The Olive Harvest is complete for us at least, for this year. Although generally in this region you will come across olive harvesting for maybe another two months.
With perfect timing we were able to complete our harvesting in two sessions of good weather.
The first four day session produced 574 kg of olives and gave us a return of 90 litres of oil.
The weather broke that final weekend in October and we decided to wait to resume the harvest until the weather became more settled. There is nothing worse than completing a harvest as the weather breaks and getting soaking wet cold and miserable. Been there and done that!

The sunshine and milder more settled weather returned at the beginning of this last week, so on Tuesday we commenced the second phase of our Olive Harvest.  We finished on Friday afternoon after four days of working outside in the sunshine, no longer hot but warm enough to be pleasant and we were even able to eat outside once again!

Our crop this year was particularly bountiful, as the trees left to tend themselves for the last few years had grown enormous. This is fine for commercial purposes and power driven pickers, but even with the tallest ladder our trees were difficult to pick. We pick all our olives by hand, using plastic rakes similar to a child’s beach toy, which causes minimal damage to the fruit. As we wish to continue harvesting by this method then we have to lower the height of our trees. Hence the enormous piles of olive tree prunings you can see in the photographs.  This will also decrease slightly the trees crop in the future but we will still produce more than enough oil every year for our needs! It also makes the picking more pleasurable if you can reach the olives.

After finishing work on Friday we went directly to the mill, Oleificio Fratelli Bracloni on the Via Verentana in Montefiascone where we were once again made to feel welcome. Just our second visit and they are already treating us as familiar faces.  Particularly the old man who insisted I take his photo with his friend as he took delivery of his oil, as you will see in the photograph! We were extremely pleased with the results of the second phase of the harvest as we produced another two large crates of olives which weighed in at 500kg.  The mill was much busier than it was two weeks ago but as we had now completed our harvest and many other people were still picking but storing their olives, we were offered a slot for pressing immediately. We had time to go to Viv and Nicks and to the Ferramenta’s (Ironmongers) for containers and still get back before our slot. We were there for over two hours but at least this time it we were all able to view the process from start to finish.

Last time they were unable to return for the pressing as it was Halloween and they had guests for supper that evening, yes including us, but I never got a chance to blog about that. It was a delicious supper, with a pumpkin inspired menu, the remains of which made a fantastic lantern.

I included a series of photos of the process last time but just to make this more interesting I have posted some more. It was fascinating to note that the pulp as it went through the pressing process this time was very much redder looking than those pressed two weeks ago. Different varieties of olives maybe, as we have quite a mixture, also the fruit was much riper. It will certainly be interesting to see if the two pressings taste different when we have our first official tasting when the oil has settled. After that second pressing we came away from the mill with another 80 litres of oil.

1,074 kilos of Olives producing 170 litres of oil, is an exceptionally good percentage yield of 15.82%.


  1. That is a lot of olives! And good yield, too.

  2. Firstly hello Linda. And well done with the Olive Harvest.

  3. That is alot of olives. Trees here in southern Tuscany did not do as well this year. Only 5 out of 20 trees produced for me. And my friends nearby are getting half the yield they git last year. Glad you wrote a comment on my blog. It's nice to meet/read you. Martha


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