This post is about the olive harvest at Finca la Capellania with D’Olive Branche
Olive oil is well known for its flavor and health benefits but the leaf has been used medicinally as well.
Since we have so many organic leaves on Finca La Capellania during the harvest, I thought I’d search around the web to see what I can learn and I found the following on wikipedia.org:
A liquid extract made directly from fresh olive leaves recently gained international attention when it was shown to have an antioxidant capacity almost double green tea extract and 400% higher than vitamin C. Bioassays support its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects at a laboratory level.
Olive leaf extract (OLE) is made from ground-up olive leaf then brewed into a liquid. Some people just put the ground-up powder into capsule or pill form. And others combined the extract with olive oil and/or other oils to make soap and skin creams.
As I said earlier, our olive oil comes from organic olive trees where absolutely no chemicals are used on the trees, fruits or the soil. So if you’d like to get your hands on these hard to find leaves, we have a lot of them. In the mean time I am still trying to learn if the jack and jenny ass eats olive leaves or not.
Olive Oil Production
Diego is the estate boss and he takes care of the milling capacity and schedules the process so that the olives don’t have to wait around after being harvested.
He waits for the buckets of olives to arrive the at the mill. I try not to get in his way too much when I am there so he can do his thing. The first thing he does after the olives arrive here at the mill is to clean them.
One of the tools we use for cleaning the olives is the leaf remover. We made this apparatus by hand and it does a good job. After the olives have been picked from that point on is a race against time. We want the best possible oil so the olives must be pressed within the first couple of hours after being harvested.
After the olives are cleaned they are placed into the hopper that sits on top the press.
The hopper only allows a certain amount of olives to be pressed at a time and the process is slow. Everything gets crushed in the press and you can hear the commotion from outside the milling room. Then there is the smell of freshly crushed olives.
The only thing to do at this point is to wait for the oil to start pouring into the strainer with a piece of bread in your hand.
Finca La Capellanía extra virgin olive oil is made from olives grown on our Finca La Capellanía estate. This is the only way for us to guarantee a 100% organic extra virgin olive oil. Beside we have neither jenny nor jack asses working round the clock on the estate as was done in the past to press other people’s olives. We use a small all in one press I purchased in Italy and it can only press between 60 and 80 kilos per hour.
The oil is then placed in stainless steel containers and left to settle for about a month, at which point it is then bottled at the farm.
After it’s all said and done, this is what we will have to offer January 1st, 2013. As the oil is unfiltered, it is normal to see a small deposit at the bottom of the bottles and the quality is second to none.
If you would like to place an order within the US then contact the friendly folks at: Paumanok Vinyards in Long island New York.
When is it best to harvest olives?
These arbequina olives are in the veraison stage and are at their optimum ripeness for picking. It is at this stage we harvest our olives at Finca La Capellania. The resulting olive oil at this point if all else is goes well, is simply the best you’ll ever get. The oil generally has a rich fruity taste and longer shelf life.
How do we pick the olives?
First a net is placed around the tree to catch the olives. If not we’ll be chasing olives everywhere. Especially for us, many of our olive trees are on hills and if we don’t catch the olives in the net then chances are we’ll be chasing after them down hill.
We are interested in the organoleptic characteristics of our olive oil. For us, this means harvesting veraison stage olives. We like to get them while they are still nice and firm so that they are not easily bruised. At this point the olives still have a high polyphenol content and this gives the oil its rich fruity taste and longer shelf life. Today we are using electric fingers to harvest the olives.
We can’t have olives flying everywhere so you need to know how to use the electric fingers. If not, we’ll have olives running away from us before we could catch them to quickly squeeze the oil out of them. The idea is to get all the olives onto the net as quickly as possible without having to run all over the place.
After we have them all in the net, we put them into buckets to make sure they are all together in one place. We don’t use large buckets because we don’t want the olive pressing to begin before we take them to the mill down the hill. Each bucket can carry about 27 kilos of olives, not enough weight to squeeze the oil out of those that are at the bottom of the bucket.
The buckets with the olives are loaded on the front bucket of a tractor and quickly driven, well as fast as the tractor can safely get down the hill to the mill, where the olive cleaning begins.
Well, there are different ways to harvest olives. On Finca La Capellania, we do it mainly by hand and electric fingers. The electric fingers is a device that whips the olives off the branches onto a net placed around the tree. It’s what the guys in the picture on the left are using. You can find more about this topic here.