Saturday, June 11, 2011

OIive Harvest

Well I didn't mean to neglect the poor blog for quite so long. But thought I'd better put in a brief re-appearance before another hiatus. This next one is scheduled though, next Sunday we are off on a big family adventure in Vanuatu for a month. Mike has already been up there for a few weeks, having taken the harder, but more rewarding, way there, sailing up with some friends. It was a rough trip, and I'm not particularly sorry I didn't do it. Meanwhile the kids and I have been muddling along here. Melina started school a couple of weeks ago, and has settled in so very quickly. I've had far less time than anticipated in the garden, and have had to let go of some expectations. I did complete one job last week - harvesting the olives.

 This rainy season, which was so hard on the grapes, was also very hard on the olives. I finally decided that they were not going to ripen anymore. The olives also had a fungal disease for the first time ever. The koroneiki was particularly badly hit, on some of the trees the fruit all shrivelled up into raisins.

The above photo is last years koroneiki. Below is this years. 

Some people do deliberately pick their olives this green, but I think it can produce an oil which is too acrid, at least with the koroneiki. Will be interesting to see how this years turns out. 

It's been a couple of years since the kids have been to see the olive press in operation, so we all went out to have a look. Actually I get a bit of a buzz out of it myself.  It's such a great example for the kids to see the whole process of producng a more abstract product than just veges- it's easy enough to see the connection between growing vegetables in the garden and eating them in their recognisable form, but oil out of a bottle bears no resemblance to the original olive. So here is the olive press in action, apologies for lack of technical terms, I really should quiz the experts a bit more.  Above photo is the olives going up on the conveyor belt. 

At the top of the conveyor belt they go through a big blower, which removes the leaves which go down the pipe and into a bag. 
Then they get washed.

Then the olives get pressed (crushed?).

The oil separates out.

And the waste sludge, for want of the proper word, goes in here. The kids are always the most fascinated by this. It kind of gloops out.
And then you get to taste the fresh oil. It's cloudy, rather than clear, and tastes creamy. Yum!

Melina was rather taken with the 'olive factory' as she called it. For the next couple of days she drew numerous factories, and carefully explained them all to me. I liked the fact they all had a chimney, obviously a requirement for all good factories. Or proof of the fact we've read  'The Lorax' many times.

And that's the olives done for the year. I've promised them that I will actually get round to pruning them properly this year.