Despite a harsh north-easterly wind and attmepts at rain all yesterday afternoon, we finished harvesting the olives. It was an enjoyable but at times hard activity.
This year because there was no rain through the summer the olives were much smaller. This does not mean they are easier to harvest, infact the opposite. The trees were heavy with fruit, and each branch had to be stripped by hand. The weight was down on last year, but the quality is there.
This afternoon I took the crop to get pressed at Ulisse’s Frantoio in Gubbio. We take them early because although the yield may be slightly less the quality is much higher. Ulisse has modern machinery that gives a cold press. for those interested in the process read on- for the rest of you skip to the pictures! The olives go into a hopper and the leaves and twigs are blown away. Thence they go into the main grind machine which has three separate chambers. Rough grind, which prepares the olives for medium press which with helical cutters grinds the olives to a fine pulp, and acts as a hold whilst the pressing ahead is completed – yes it is a bit of a production line these days.
The final press grinds the olive pulp even more finely. From there the pulp is passed to the first of two centrifuges which spins off the solids from the liquid. (I learnt recently the separated ground stones have a high calorific value and will serve as fuel for our new boiler – must look into that) The liquid then passes to the second centrifuge which spins off the water and thus the oil arrives, green, tangy, fresh. The whole process takes less than two hours to complete.
And guess who is going to be eating bruschetta tonight, Umbrian bread toasted on the fire and smothered with new cold pressed organic virgin olive oil from Bellaugello’s trees….