Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day Two - Olive Picking...

Two days could not have been more different - we had rain last night and then this morning when we woke we could hardly see our hands in front of our faces.  The weather here can be very localised and if we looked across the valley it looked brighter - or maybe that was just wishful thinking!!!  Jane and Mark were waiting for a dog to be dropped off at theirs so we got ourselves organised and set off.  As John said when you have had to lash a helicopter down in a force 10 round the Bay of Biscay a bit of rain is nothing.  I got fully togged up with waterproof trousers, layers, hat the lot!

The weather was, indeed, localised and when we got to Peristerona the sun was beginning to break through the clouds and it was only 8.30am.  John wanted to complete the tree that he and Mark had started the day before and I was detailed off to tackle a smaller one by the pump room which had plenty of olives within easy reach for me.  We were working well together and the weather was improving and fortunately, it being Wednesday, there weren't many hunters around because boy it sounds loud when they are shooting nearby.

Mark and Jane weren't too long in arriving along with Rocky and Arni and the newly delivered Bella (big old Bella) who they are looking after for a short while.   We dispatched Jane off to make the coffees as we were gasping and then it was all hands on deck.  We cleared the tree by the pump house and then started on the one you can see behind us in the photograph above.  This was a big old beast of a tree - laden with green olives but we weren't entirely sure whether or not they were ripe enough to yield much oil.

Jane and I got the low level clearing job - it is amazing how the olives can find their way in places other than the sheets that you have laid down to catch them and vigorous tree shaking by the boys didn't help!!  Every olive counts and taking time to sift out the crap is also worthwhile although it may not seem it at the time!!  The big tree was never going to be cleared completely there were just too many olives and there were better ones on the last remaining tree so we did our best but after several hours moved on to complete as much as we could before Jane's 3.00pm deadline.  At 3.00pm we needed to pack up and take what we had collected to the Olive Pressing Plant.

We arrived at the Plant which is on the main road to Polis with our olives.  This was the exciting bit and made the hard work so worthwhile.  It is such a traditional thing to do and we felt like we were part of one big family as we took our place in the queue and waited to load our olives into the hopper - all the others there are keen to see your harvest and the quality of your olives.

The olives go into the hopper and are weighed - olives, crap and all.  They are then shuffled up a conveyor belt where the crap is riddled out and then they are assigned to a specified crusher which was A2 in our case. We then had to wait until it was time for the A2 to spring into action and at that point our olives would be processed and we would have to get ready with our receptacles to catch the virgin olive oil as it was produced.

Whilst you are waiting there is the opportunity to grab a traditional coffee and some toast which you soak in olive oil and sprinkle with lemon juice and oregano. You are then told the weight of your harvest - in our case 403.8 Kilos!!!  We were so chuffed that this was the biggest haul so far for Mark and Jane so we had obviously pulled our weight!!  We then went off to buy some bigger containers as we knew there would be more than the 40 litres they received last year.

You have to sit and decant your oil as it spurts out and this year our yield produced 50 litres.  There is a flat rate of 9 cents per kilo for the pressing plus the cost of the big orange containers.  We now have newly produced virgin olive oil that we need to allow to settle before we use it.  How exciting is that???  We really have to thank Jane and Mark for giving us the opportunity to share in the experience.

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