This time of year, the crisp autumn with the chilled nights and the cool yet sun-baked days, is an important time of year for anyone in the olive oil business. Last year I harvested a percentage of olives from the olive trees in our backyard. We had taken the olives to Peki’in, a nearby Druze village, and handed in our box of picked olives in return for some “homemade” olive oil pressed and bottled right there in the warehouse. This year I thought I’d step it up a bit and get even more olives. Here is the story.
In our backyard there are two olive trees of different varieties. One is of few leaves and has large olives easy to collect and after a bit of internet research I think it is the Barnea olive cultivar or the Souri olive cultivar. The other has tons of leaves and has tiny olives that host all sorts of insects and spiders, the exact cultivar I have not found online. The classic way to harvest olives, and the way the Arabs do here, is by spreading a sheet or tarp out under the tree and then beating the branches with sticks, knocking the olives to the ground. Once the olives are on the ground the sheet is gathered up and the olives are bagged or put into some sort of container. I tried the beating method last year and was not pleased. Having to sort through all the leaves, twigs, nasty wrinkled olives and the hundreds of spiders to gather the crop of olives was not a happy experience so this year I went really hands-on. Choosing primarily the tree with the large olives I browsed through the branches hand-picking the juicy olives. It is an enjoyable task and one devoid of spider bites… Usually.
As soon as I have relieved the chosen tree of its fruit, hopefully in a few days, I shall take them down to Peki’in’s Druze olive press to get them pressed and made into olive oil. That will be Part 2 of The Olive Harvest. Until then the olives high up on the treetop continue to bake in the sun even as I stand on the porch roof reaching out to pluck them and drop them into my bucket.
Time to head outside and continue picking!