We have had a busy season, the summer ebbed away into Autumn and it was a little hard to keep up with all the activity, always busy sewing and making yurts, balancing building our Italian centre, and now November has come its also olive picking time.
We have the fortune to have landed our site in an area full of wilderness: only the other day one of the locals was telling us to be careful that our dog does not get killed by the wolf they have seen the other morning.
But one of the best things about this area is that a lot of the old cultivation has been abandoned, it means there are scores of fruit trees for us!, this month we have spent a good two week picking olives of old olive groves, that have grown wild.
The Italian mountain weather was at its best, and so we picked some 500kilo of olives, all from wild uncultivated trees, organic and in the fresh mountain wilds, the Oil is simply Amazing.
There are three main olive varieties in our area, the big eating olive called olive grande, the small ones I can never recall, and the middle sized one that mature latest, called in dialect la gentile (the gentle one). traditionally olive groves are planted with some sort of a mix of varieties so to offer one the best of all worlds oil, and eating olives.
The olive trees we resurrected around Heartland are of the eating variety around the area we are going to be putting all the yurts, and further up and down are mostly of the la gentile kind.
We use the old method of making green olives, so instead of chemicals we cure ours in water, but we also use ash from the fire, placed in a sock inside the water with the olives, it makes them go “sweet” so after a week or so they can go into brine.
The black Olives are done under salt, simply put them in a sack with a load of salt and keep turning them.
This was the capping stone over a summer of fruit collection and gardening, having a site to manage travelling to our usual cover and yurt making, is overly demanding but it is rewarding, Sitting now by the oak fire, with a big pot of mushroom and nettle soup, knowing the olive oil in the bottle was picked by our hands from our own local olives is great, and the taste is superior to anything you have ever tasted.
The local olive oil press works long hours for those two months, finishing some nights at 12pm, it takes about an hour from arrival to oil. Nice friendly locals all bringing their olives to be pressed its a real good way to get involved with the locals.
Our second olive picking being little latish, got us 35litres out of 200kg, which is an impressive 18%. this is due to the fact that most of the olives we picked was of the la gentile type (they have more oil) and because the olives were little more mature, as we only got 15% a few weeks earlier, the earlier Olive oil is little less acidic which is a good thing too.