The Olive Harvest 2014

2014 has been a year of firsts – so on this first day of 2015, I would like to write about the best experience we had in 2014. Of course every time we got to travel to Matarranya was very special, coming “home” to the view of the Els Sports mountains was amazing time and time again, finding all kinds of different vegetation & animal traces on our finca was more than interesting and we had a lot of fun with the almond harvest… but the best thing was the olive harvest. It was our first time, and we learned so much from it!

First of all, our olives are Empeltre olives. They can be used both for eating and pressing olive oil from it; most people around here leave them hanging until they’re nicely ripe and black. There is a right time for harvesting them; most presses in the neighbourhood belong to a “cooperativa” (members can go and sell their olives there, or bring them in exchange for the oil, or sometimes a combination of both). The cooperativa have a date for bringing the olives in; this year we could bring them starting December 9th, which was just after a long weekend here in Spain.

Olive picking

Hitting the olives with sticks

Axel set to work with 2 friends. On the first morning, they went to buy nets and sticks from the cooperativa in Cretas, and borrowed big crates to put the olives in. To collect the olives, you have to hit the branches / the olives with the sticks, so they fall on the ground into the nets; afterwards you gather all the olives into the crates (while leaving out the bigger branches). We have about 45 trees on our land, which took the 3 men one day and a half of work. At the end of the second day, they went with all the crates to Manolito, here in the village of Lledo – and the next day, we were able to go and pick up 4 barrels of olive oil.

Here are some pictures of the olive oil pressing. I already posted some of them on our Facebook page some time ago.

Collecting the olives at Manolito's place; in the background you can see a conveyor belt picking up the olives. They are automatically cleaned of excess branches and leaves, and dropped into the next room.

Collecting the olives at Manolito’s place; in the background you can see a conveyor belt picking up the olives. They are automatically cleaned of excess branches and leaves, and dropped into the next room.

The "clean" olives (without branches or leaves) get dropped into the next room, and gathered back into crates.

The “clean” olives (without branches or leaves) get dropped into the next room, and gathered back into crates.

The olives then go into the mill, to be finely crushed.

The olives then go into the mill, to be finely crushed.

The actual olive press. The oil is pressed through large discs of fabric; after that, the oil is poured into large basins, where the deposit is filtered out.

The actual olive press. The oil is pressed through large discs of fabric; after that, the oil is poured into large basins, where the deposit is filtered out.

The next day, we were able to pick up 100 liters of olive oil (that was from about 540 kilos of olives, part of which belonged to our "neighbhour" John from Arens de Lledo)

The next day, we were able to pick up 100 liters of olive oil (that was from about 540 kilos of olives, part of which belonged to our “neighbhour” John from Arens de Lledo)

The taste of our olive oil is excellent; it is cold pressed virgin oil, and since we don't spray our trees (and neither do most of the people who bring their olives to Manolito), it's probably the healthiest olive oil I've ever had. You can really taste the olives, and it's excellent with my home made tomato bread!

The taste of our olive oil is excellent; it is cold pressed virgin oil, and since we don’t spray our trees (and neither do most of the people who bring their olives to Manolito), it’s probably the healthiest olive oil I’ve ever had. You can really taste the olives, and it’s excellent with my home made tomato bread!

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