Have you ever wondered what actually goes on during an olive oil harvest in Italy? Join me for our olive harvest at Flavor of Italy in Rome, and as we ready the olives to take to the press in nearby Castelnuovo di Porto.
A picture says a thousand words so today I'll take you along with me on the virtual experience of our olive oil harvest!
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The first step is to spread the nets under the olive trees to gather all those juicy olives that fall from the tree as we pick them...
Then it's all about the picking. We pick by hand, or use a small hand held olive-picking rake tool, or we use a really long rake tool that has a motor and as it does the raking job it also shakes the branch to shake off the olives.
Then it's off to the olive press with all the olives from our harvest and our 50 L stainless steel container that will hold our oil. It has a spout on the side so as we need oil we fill up smaller containers that we keep in the kitchen.
The giant 50 L container stays in the garage in a cool dark spot and the oil should last for at least a year and sometimes over two years. That is if we don't use it up first which is usually what happens!
Then the olives get pressed! First they go through a machine that shakes off debris and leaves. Then the olives are sprayed and rinsed off. Next they go through a crushing machine - the olive press, followed by a centrifugal separation to separate the water from the oil. And finally the magical step when our oil pours out into our 50 L olive oil container.
All of our crates of olives get put into one big container:
It looks like the many olives we picked this year will yield about 50 L of liquid gold ready to use throughout the year in recipes and drizzled on crusty bruschetta.
We set aside about 8 cups of our olives to cure and use in recipes and to eat along with bread and cheese or just on their own. We cure them in a saltwater solution - salamoia - or in rock salt along with lemon and orange zest, dried hot pepper, slices of garlic or herbs depending on the flavor profile we want to achieve.
The best olive oil recipe is bruschetta. Toasted country bread gently rubbed with a garlic clove, drizzled generously with olive oil and finally a sprinkling of salt.
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