Updated: Aug 6, 2019
The olive tree is surely the richest gift of heaven
Thomas Jefferson- Third President of USA
One of the more pleasant legacies left to us by the previous owners of our property is about a dozen olive trees. There’s a few out and about in odd spots of the extended yard, and in our direct backyard they run in a line just outside of the verandah. Olives are a beautiful tree to have in the garden, they are heat and drought tolerant, offer plenty of shade and have classical good looks.
Last year (our first fruiting season here), they didn’t produce a great deal of fruit, that were easily eaten by the local parrot population and I thought that would be the ongoing pattern. However, as we were soon to discover and I’ve later been told, olives tend to fruit more heavily in alternate years.
As the end of April approached, the local birds had more than they could handle and the trees were still laden with ripening fruit and I hated the thought of it going to waste. I knew we had no use for that volume of preserved olives (I like them, but 50kg+ was possibly a little ridiculous) so I needed an alternative. So I came upon a local producer who offered a service to process olives into olive oil.
After an educational phone call with an enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable and very Italian gentleman I now had instructions on harvesting, packing and delivering my crop, a processing appointment time and date and the intriguing promise of the availability of olive oil flavoured ice cream.
As harvested olives can’t be stored for more than a couple of days, we only had a two day window before our appointment to pick all the fruit. Olives need to be ”raked” from the tree, there’s a special tool, but fingers are effective. It took two full, highly physical days up a ladder to comb all the branches of fruit.
We set ourselves a day trip to the nearby town of York for our olive oil journey. After depositing our olives at the small processing factory, we spent a couple of hours wandering through the nearby historic town and then tasting the ice cream and riding the zip lines in the factory’s grounds.
The olives were were weighed, washed and pressed, and the process could be watched through a viewing window. Olives are a fruit, so olive oil is technically fruit juice. Whilst the process is now streamlined and features lots of shiny stainless steel, the process of extracting olive oil has been traced back as early as 6000BC.
The end result was a generous tank of olive “oil”, 16L from 59kg of fruit. This is an exceptional yield, so we were happy with the results.
Back home, our olive oil is used daily in the kitchen. It’s very satisfying to feel our place is productive and it was an educational process for the whole family. Olive oil has great flavour and the fresh oil is exceptional. The higher levels of monounsaturated fats make it a healthy choice in cooking too, and I use it in salad dressings, for frying and even in baking.
Hopefully we will be doing it again!
If if you want to check out the great work that York Olive Oil offer, pop over to https://www.yorkoliveoil.com.au
If you want to buy an amusing olive-related tshirt or mug that I have designed, visit my Redbubble shop here: https://www.redbubble.com/people/pollaposavec/works/40263413-olive-you-so-much?asc=u
If you want to know more about the health benefits of olive oil you can check out