This blog post is a continuation of this one – the actual harvesting of the olives:
Yesterday evening we went to the Druze olive press – bet baad in Hebrew – in the ancient village of Pekiin. I had called ahead to check to make sure they were open and crushing olives – they were. When we got there, just a short drive from Ma’alot, there were Druze abound with hundreds of kilos of olives in large sacks. I had brought along the small box of olives I had picked from the trees in our backyard and set my stock down on a small stool.
As we watched the numerous Druzi men unloading the sacks of olives into the hopper on the floor we were deafened by the din of the harvest in full-swing. The olives piled high waiting for the first machine to be turned on. Once on, the olives are lifted up on a conveyor belt and are cleaned in the washing machine. Nice and clean, the olives are then taken into the crusher where they are churned within a great rectangular machine. The olive pulp is separated for other uses and the watery oil is transferred into the next machine where the pure olive oil is skimmed off. The water goes one way and the oil goes to the next stage – filtration. The pure, golden-green olive oil is then dispensed through large vats into the waiting oil canisters and jerry-cans. The full containers are then put on a scale for weighing and are then carted off – ten percent of olive oil going to the bet baad’s owner.
The process in pictures:
Here is a panoramic picture of most of the warehouse – from the olive unloading at the far right, the washing between the pillar and the fireplace, the crushing between the fireplace and the faux leather armchair, the filtering behind the yellow oil containers and the bottling all the way in the distant corner on the far left. (Click on it to see it enlarged)
My small crop was not processed right away – I had to trade my 16 kilos of olives for 50 shekels of oil bottled the previous day. Our business was first opened with small cups of tea poured by the owner:
Here is my crop and the oily result… well, in lieu of the actual result:
The small store set up within the warehouse had special tasting for the oils freshly pressed and of course, bottled oils of all varieties and qualities – all local stock.
Before we left, another huge load of olives came – a long night of olive pressing for those guys!