Saturday, December 4, 2010

The olive oil is in!

We managed to get all our olives picked by Thursday lunchtime. Dodging the showers and morning dews was a bit precarious. Mustn't pick them when wet. Nipped up to the olificio and was greeted with no activity whatsoever. Oops, we thought. Are we too late for pressing?
Wasn't really a problem. At the end of the picking and pressing season, it is normal for them to group customers pickings as it costs quite a bit of money to run the presses, so they don't want to have to gear things up just for one customer a few hundred kilos of olives. So we arranged to go back yesterday afternoon about 3:30 to tie in with some other customers he had already arranged.
When we arrived there again yesterday, we met one of our neighbours along with one of his grandsons who has some learning difficulties. He had been picking since the beginning of November and he told us that this last lot brought his total up to 3500 kilos!!! That's about 650-700 litres. That's a lot of oil. We expect they must either give some away or sell it.
He was the customer ahead of us. When it was his turn, they poured all his olives into the hopper and the process was started. After a while the miller asked us to bring ours in and put in onto the scales. 212 kilos, minus the weight of the boxes, 14 kilos, gave us a grand total of 198 kilos, about 30 kilos more than the last time. Excellent.
I was busy looking at all the fantastic machinery at the mill when La D tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Should he be doing that?" and pointed at our neighbour's grandson who had just tipped one of our boxes of olives - about 20 kilos worth - into the hopper on top of his grandfather's berries.
Fortunately one of the mill workers also saw this and stopped the lad from putting any more of our berries into the hopper. The man looked at us and shrugged his shoulders. He then spoke with the capo and together they took our empty box and disappeared outside for a few minutes and returned with a full box! No idea where he kept his secret stash of olives but thank goodness he had one. So we were back to full weight.
The grandfather apologised for the boy who looked very embarrassed. We said not to worry. What else could we have said? The poor lad didn't know he wasn't helping.
Soon it was our turn to empty all our olives into the beast. They get taken up a conveyor from the hopper. They are then vibrated as they pass through a blower which gets rid of any stray leaves. From there they go into a great macerator and get mulched up. The mill has two of these so each customer gets only the oil from their own berries.  Whilst this is going on the previous customer is getting his oil at the end of the production.
The colour of freshly pressed olives is a fantastic sight. It's almost fluorescent green. It's is quite beautiful, at least to our eyes.
We brought our containers over. We had brought a 20 litre jerry can and two 5 litre glass wine flagons. I had bought the second flagon just in case, as I did not expect to get any more than 23-25 litres. The jerry can got filled way past the 20 litre mark, then we went onto the fist glass flagon. That got brimmed. Then onto the second flagon. It was filling up quickly. La D and I couldn't believe it. The capo asked us for another flagon, but we hadn't got one. He rushed off and brought another glass flagon from somewhere in the mill.
 "You'll have to replace this, OK?" he said to me. "Si, si. Grazie mille." I replied. The oil just finished pouring when this third flagon was pretty much up to the brim. We had 37 litres of beautiful greeny-yellow freshly milled olive oil from our own berries.Fan-bloody-tastic! It cost us €40.00. that's €1.10 per litre of "real" Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Wow, were we chuffed to bits.
Now I've just got to get on with the pruning.

Ciao. mantenere la fede. A posto

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