Saturday, the day we took our olives to the press, was a gorgeous day. It turned out we had 99 Kilograms of fruit, not the 111 our funky scale told us (we weigh using the unreliable technique of standing on the scale with the olives, then without, then subtracting the difference; it’s kind of comical, especially the shocking ‘without olives’ part). Mixing ours with T and J’s 75 K gave us a total of 174 K from which we got a total of 26 K of oil. My trusty calculator tells me that almost 15% of each olive is oil.
We came home with 16.3 liters of oil, and T & J came home with 12.3, giving a remarkable liter of oil for every 6 K of olives picked, a very good result. We were all happy except for T & J who had picked only half their trees. Fortunately they were able to pick the rest the next day during a brief respite from the rain, and got them pressed with a batch of another friend at a different frantoio.
The frantoio is in the teeny little building above, squished between San Pietro church and a building housing a delightful restaurant where we ate an enormous lunch (don’t even ask). The olives are weighed, dumped in a chute, washed, and then disappear into a vast array of machinery with pipes, hoses, gears and belts. Eventually one is told to put a container under a nozzle and, as they like to say here, Wah-Lah! Olive oil, golden green and slightly bitter, arrives.
The bits that don’t come back to you as oil are pumped off into a big truck just outside the building. All this muck is taken off to another kind of mill where it is heated and somehow even more oil is extracted. What we received is the Virgin (or, I suppose, Extra Virgin) oil. What is made from the leftover is ‘olive oil.’
Now the oil will sit in its demijohn for about 4 months. Impurities will sink to the bottom, and somehow the bitterness will disappear and we’ll be left with the mellow, rich oil for which Liguria is justly famous. It’s hard to wait!
There is a series of photographs of the process available here. Some of the photos look very hazy. That is because the interior of a frantoio IS hazy – it must be from tiny particles of olive oil floating in the air. They get into the back of your throat when you walk in and you wonder if you’ll be able to continue breathing. It must be very good for the complexion.
So the Olive Adventure of ’08 is over. Our trees will be pruned rather severely this winter, so it may be a year or two until we pick again – unless we can help our friends pick, which is always fun. It was a Banner Year.