Experience An Actual Olive Harvest In Italy
In any olive growing region, and in fact, in any traditionally agricultural community, there are certain times of the year when you can predict what people will be doing. The year is punctuated by sowing and harvesting following historical cycles. The final harvest of the horticultural year is usually the olive and as you drive through the landscape it is dotted with figures armed with nets, baskets, rakes and assorted picnics, attempting to strip every tree of its valuable fruit.
The smell of diesel from the agricultural machinery used to transport both crop and workers fills the air and the sound of voices permeates the plains; and ‘twas ever thus it seems. I am so glad this tradition continues because freshly pressed virgin olive oil is really one of my favourite perfumes and there is nothing better than drizzling this vibrantly lime green liquid (or yellowy gold colour) over fresh bread or crunchy Bruschetta. Homer, after all, waxed lyrical about olive oil and called it ‘liquid gold’ and top quality oil really is ‘liquid engineering’ for both the body and the soul.
Yes, supermarket olive oil can be bought fairly cheaply and you can splash out and treat yourself to a reserve bottle but take my word for it, there is nothing like smelling and tasting freshly pressed olive oil; I was shocked at the difference when I first experienced this phenomenon and I love how they all taste slightly different.
There are pristine warehouse-style mills peppered across the regions but usually local mills most people favour, make use of pretty traditional methods. First the olives are ground between massive stones and then the resultant paste is squeezed onto massive fibre mats and the oil itself gloops satisfyingly down the centrifuge. It reminds me of Keats’ Ode to Autumn where autumn tarries:
‘…..by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watches the last oozings hours by hours.’
|Nicky Chapman joined us for the olive harvest |
on the BBC Holiday Programme - watch it now!
Tempted? Then why not leave dull days behind and celebrate the olive harvest in Italy or maybe think about how you might put top quality olive oil to use in the flavours’ kitchen next season?
Flavours offer Italian cooking holidays, Pilates, and painting holidays in Tuscany, where you can experience the olive harvest at the right times of year - contact us to learn more! Flavours also offer holidays in Sicily, Umbria, and Puglia.