Our first olive oil…

At the difference of last year, our olive trees produced a lot of olives this year, so we decided to collect them and produce our own olive oil.

We could say that we spend days collecting them by hands in our baskets…

Which we actually did, for a few trees which were difficult to access…

… but a local friend of us, Damien (here pictured), lent us his machine, a sort of huge spider at the top of a carbon stick, e-powered, shaking the branches very quickly. It requires some technic, and it takes some efforts too, but it’s a hundred time faster than picking by hands…

Once the olives are in the net (placed around the tree), we put them together and place them in boxes.

Then you need to sort the branches and bad olives from the good ones: this is the (very long!) step you ignore when you’re getting into this. It took us 2 full days…

My mother who was coming just to say hi ended up helping us a few hours.

I needed the hands of the whole family…

Well, except that one…. not yet!

Let’s go to the olive mill to finally discover how it’s made…. Olives go into a huge box.

Which are then lifted and placed into a machine: olives will be cleaned up with clear water.

and then carried into another machine where heavy stones will crush the olives.

The paste is conducted from there (thanks to an Archimedes screw)…

to a machine where the staff lays up alternatively fiber disks and olive paste.

Once there are enough layers, the worker will pull the cart and place it in a pressuring machine which will very slowly squeeze all these layers.

The olive oil (and water from the olive) is dropping in the basin at the bottom,

which leads to a tap pouring the liquid into a filter.

The liquid is then pumped up through pipes and lead to another machine which separates the water of the olive from the oil. On the right side of the machine the water gets out, and on the left side, the bright and fresh olive oil pours out.

Here we go, this is our first olive oil!

To get a rough idea, you would need around 5 Kg of olives to get 1 liter of olive oil.

Let’s give it a try (it needs a few months decanting but it is edible and full of polyphenols)… It’s very green, almost fluorescent, very rich and strong in taste, a bit of bitterness but very fruity, with a very spicy finish.

And while discussing with the other people around during the process, it was interesting to learn that:

  • the olive tree always alternates a year with a lot of olives, and a year with few.
  • the earlier you pick the olive in the year,  the more water you get; the later you pick, the less water: the olive will look withered but will contain almost only oil.
  • it would make sense to water your olive trees during the summer (even with a dripping system) but apparently, it will only make them bigger and full of water. So, as everyone knows, bigger does not mean better.