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.