Autumn in Italy! Grape harvest and wine making, olive gathering, and oil pressing. Ah, this is autumn in Italy! And right in our own garden, at that! Hubby harvests our olives — the time-honored way. Hand-picked, one-by-one. He probably wouldn’t want to try it with a hundred trees, but with our two it’s not too bad.
Two traditional olive-picking methods exist.
- Hand picking and dropping them into a basket tied around the waist.
- Combing them off the branches onto a net on the ground with a special comb. (Learn more here.)
The olive comb or rake (like the one shown above), is usually plastic so it won’t harm or bruise the olives. And on a long handle for easy removal from the ground.
But for our two trees, hand picking works fine. And we get enough olives to last the year, and to give away! Which, around Christmas-time, will be ready to sample! For you have to cure olives before eating them. Freshly picked olives are much too bitter to eat.
Our olives are known as the black and white variety which, in reality, is purple and green. They’re quite small, and really better for oil olive than for eating.
But with proper curing, and patience, we get a pretty nice olive, 100% organic! And oh how we enjoy them!
- Wash the ripe, firm olives, letting them dry a bit.
- Put them in jars and cover with sea salt and water, about a 50/50 solution.
- How much salt? Add a raw egg to water, add salt until the egg starts floating.
- Let them season, usually a month or two.
- Seal the jars. No canning process necessary, as the salt preserves them.
- Add seasonings. Try lemon or orange peel, garlic or onions, and oregano.
But there are many recipes around for curing olives. Like this one from Sicily that I’d like to try!
Hand-picking olives sounds like a lot of work. But you know, it’s really quite special!