Last weekend Olivia and I returned to Sorano in Tuscany to meet our friend Adamo (aka Davide) with whom we harvested grapes in the summer. This time we would harvest his olives to press for oil. We learned that harvesting olives is much more involved, and over the course of two full days we picked about 70 trees and hauled in over 1,000 kg of olives!
Picking olives is basically about using any means to get the olives down from the trees onto nets which are placed underneath. Once a tree is finished, you collect the olives from the net and move on to the next tree. If you cleverly place nets you can do two or three trees at a time. We had two mechanical compressed air rakes, which flapped aggressively and were very effective. The rest we did by hand. Though punctuated by two delicious lunches with tastes of the new wine from this past summer, we worked briskly through the short winter days.
Fresh unfiltered olive oil (we tried Adamo's from last year and a few from different peoples' harvests this year) is so delicious that it has ruined store-bought oil for us. In fact, people in the community we talked to scoffed at the very idea of buying oil in a supermarket. Now I know why. You can see in the photo near the end that it comes out of the press almost neon green and has a different look, flavor, and texture from what we are used to.