We are on our third harvest of olives. On our first encounter with olives, we discovered that there are several varieties but they’re not divided into green and black. Quel surprise! Who knew black and green olives come from the same tree?
Our trees turned out to be arbequina which are the predominant variety in Catalunya, they’re smaller olives but they’re great for oil. Also at harvest time we were surprised to see different colors of olives on the same tree. It’s about ripeness, and it’s not even related to which ones get more sun, as they’re mixed all over the tree in a beautiful variety of greens, from a “bruised” green to purples and downright black. You can harvest the olives for the oil at any point. The trick is not letting them fall to the ground before you get your harvesting team ready. Some people say if you wait, you get better quality oil, but your yield is smaller because you’ve lost a lot. A good wind or a heavy rainstorm can do in half of your harvest for you, and then…whoops! Too late. That happened to us this year thanks to a major hailstorm.
A big surprise for us was learning that you can’t just SHAKE the tree and get a shower of olives. There are special tools that look like hand rakes, and it takes some effort to dislodge the fruit from the branches; in Spanish it’s the same verb as “to comb:” peinar aceitunas.
Another surprise is, as tempting as they look, you can’t eat them off the tree. Soaking in brine is required, for at least a year until they’re edible. On the other hand, we took the bulk of the harvest to a coop press, so we had oil the same night as the harvest. And maybe the best surprise of all is that the fresh cold-pressed oil is so raw and green that it actually burns the back of your throat. Delicioso!
November 14, 2016