Saturday, November 07, 2015

Olive Harvest 2015

Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Saturday 07-November-2015.

The best harvest ever both in terms of quantity and quality.  Previous years we have harvested in the middle of November. We have two sets of trees with black and green olives respectively. The black ones ripen earlier so generally many have fallen to the ground by harvest time and we pick mostly the green variety. This year we went for the first weekend of November and as a result harvested many more black olives which were looking in prime condition.

We persuaded six of our friends to take a long weekend and help us with the harvest, not that they took a lot of persuading.

We flew out on a Thursday; Friday it was pouring with rain so no harvest. Saturday was clear so a-harvesting we went.

With eight of us I was not expecting the harvest to take long, normally three hours is enough. This time it took most of the day, partly because of the bumper crop and partly because of a leisurely lunch.

We worked in pairs, two to a tree and were most meticulous harvesting every last olive. We have a multi-function ladder that can be configured as a platform so I did the upper branches while Nigel here did the lower branches - teamwork!

We only have four nets and four crates so we had to co-opt one of the under-bed storage crates to hold the overflow. We forgot to weigh the haul but it easily hit the 100kg mark.

The olives went off to one of our neighbours for pressing along with his harvest. We do not meet the 220kg minimum pressing quantity so we combine ours with his. Since it is a batch process we know that the oil we get back is made, at least in part, from our olives.

The work done we relaxed with a pizza party. We hired in a pizza chef who brings all the makings and fires up our oven.

Part of the fun is having a go at making your own pizza. Creating an even, circular base from a ball of dough is much harder than it looks. The dough is slow-risen for three days and is incredibly elastic, it keeps springing back.

We were joined by two sets of neighbours so it was quite the party. Mino appointed himself pizza judge awarding points for shape and thinness to much hilarity.

The weather was sunny enough that a trip to the coast for a seaside lunch required a pre-lunch dip for the hardier souls. Not me. Too darned cold in the water. Sod that for a game of soldiers.

Tony is a great real ale aficionado so on our previous visit we had tracked down a source of Puglian artisanal beers.

Good food, good wine, good company, great harvest. What more could one ask for?

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