At this time of year, the second half of November, all who own olive orchards start to think of the harvest to come and the olives to be pressed into beautiful oil. We have thirty two olive trees and last year there were plenty of olives to be harvested. We chose the easy way, the local way where Greek friends harvested the olives for us.
This is how the deal works. The Greeks use their equipment to harvest the olives and to put the olives into bags. Then they notify the local olive press who comes down with a tractor and trailer to gather up all of the bags and take them to the olive press. The press charge a percentage of your oil for both the picking up of the bags and the actual pressing. Then the amount of oil that is left is divided half and half with the local Greeks. We were left after the press took their divvy with sixty-six kilos of oil of which we received thirty-three kilos for ourselves.
The benefit of doing this is that you literally have to do nothing but go up to the local oil press and take your oil back home. The drawback is obvious, you get much less oil than if you harvested the olives yourself and took the bags up to the press. That way the press would only take nine percent of your oil and we would end up with more like eighty kilos of oil.
So what do we do this year? I already have a net and ten sacks plus a couple of very stout bamboo poles to knock the olives from the trees. The trouble is that this is backbreaking work and although I can get help from some English friends, it is still difficult if your experience is as shallow as ours.
What I could buy, of course is the machine that all the Greeks (except very few) use to gather the olives. It is like a long pole with an electric motor and a rotating bit at the top with rubber or plastic bits sticking out that knock the olives from the trees. This will plug into the mains and since our house is in the middle of the olive grove, we have mains extension leads that should reach all of the trees. So at least we do not need a generator. These machines cost around a hundred to a hundred and fifty Euros, according to local Greek friends.
But you know, the olive oil that comes from our fresh grown organic trees is absolutely superb. You can eat it on bread. This first pressing extra virgin olive oil just cannot be bought in a shop. It not only tastes good, it can go up to and over 180 degrees Celsius in a chip-pan. The chips made with this superb oil and Cretan potatoes is not only beyond belief, but healthy too. In fact some people say that Cretan olive oil, the gift of the goddess Athena, is the best foodstuff on the planet.
So the wet days go slowly by and we continue to think – off and on – just what we will do. The thirty-three kilos lasted us all year with oil left over – perhaps we want more to sell or even give away. Or perhaps we just want the satisfaction of doing it ourselves. Who knows? We shall certainly see in the next few weeks.