Every year in November, traditionally from the 15th of the month, the countryside of Puglia is busy with the harvesting of olives to be made into delicious olive oil. There’s been quite a lot of investigation in the press recently about some of the dodgy dealings that can happen in this huge industry, careful reading of the label on the oils you buy is essential to make sure you’re buying what you think you are!
In comparison we’re a tiny artisan producer and we take great pride in creating a premium product from the olive trees on our estate. We hand pick all our olives, this involves a combination of dragging the olives from the trees with our hands (me and the children), climbing into the tree and shaking the branches so the olives fall to the ground (Andy) and using a whizzy thing on a stick that makes them fly off (my dad). Big nets are spread under the trees to catch the olives and once the tree has been stripped they’re poured into crates and put through a shaker, a bit like a long sieve with springs at each end which we fling from side to side so that the olives are separated from the leaves and twigs that come down with them. As soon as we’ve got 300 kilos we go straight to the press so that they’re immediately milled into oil, we aim to go from picking to press with 24 hours so that we get the highest grade extra virgin oil. The press, or frantoio, that we use has a stone mill and presses them cold as is the traditional method – some presses wash the olives in hot water as it can increase the yield. What comes out is a beautiful luminous thick green spicy liquid that looks nothing like what you buy in the supermarket. This process goes on for days – picking, sorting and pressing – until the trees are bare and we can rest our weary arms.
Our delicious single estate, hand picked, stone ground, cold pressed, organic (uncertified), extra virgin olive oil costs £10 per litre plus postage (£5.60 parcel post) or free postage for two or more litres.