Up till now the harvest has alternated between, typically, 35 kg and 90 kg. This was due to be a good year but the summer had been very wet and the olives were very poor quality - a combination of mushy fruits and damage caused by insects encouraged by damp conditions. We did not know this at the time and harvested as per Plan A.
We lay the nets down and raked the olives using fingers, hand rakes or rakes on poles.
We then 'herded' the olives into the crates picking out the leaves and lumps of clay.
We ended up with about 35 kg of olives. We then took them round to our friends to add to their harvest for pressing together and then learned the bad news; they were thinking of not even bothering to harvest as the quality was so poor.
We had already paid for hold luggage on RyanAir so we went round to the local olive press and bought 10 litres of this year's harvest to bring home as a consolation prize.
It was an opportunity to show our friends the presses at work - starting with the minimum 220 kg that you need to get olives pressed (which is why we need to put our smaller harvest in with our neighbours).
The traditional cold press process starts with grinding the olives, stones and all, into a gritty pulp; the millstones are just visible top left. The pulp is then layered between raffia-type, circular mats.
When sufficient matts are piled up the whole lot is put under a hydraulic press and the oil is slowly squeezed out.
The oil is then stored in stainless steel cans that look remarkably like milk churns.
The rest of the weekend went as planned - lots of vacu-sacs filled with linens and duvets keeping them dry for the winter and general tidying.
We also discovered an excellent new trattoria thanks to a recommendation from our friends Chris and John: Il Cortiletto a short drive away in Speziale near Fasano. We managed the full anti-pasti, primi, secondi and dessert and they were all excellent.
Thursday and Friday were very wet, Saturday morning stayed dry for the harvest and Sunday was lovely - we had breakfast and lunch outside. We were sorry to go home and the next trip is Easter to open up for the 2015 season.
|Trullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 8-10. For more information visit http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/trulloazzurro|