After I started picking our olives we had a couple of wet days which put the pressure on, you can't pick wet olives as they won't keep and you don't want to keep the already picked olives waiting too long before they go for pressing. So I was delighted on my birthday to receive an offer of a days help from our lovely Danish friends. I managed to collect 4 crates myself on dry days before they arrived on the Saturday, equipped with their own nets and rakes and we spent a happy if tiring day harvesting and chatting in true Italian style. Hans and Tenna stayed on and had dinner with us, did I sleep well that night.
The plan was that in Monday we would drive to a local family run frantoio where we would meet up with a friend of Marios and combine our harvest with his as we probably wouldnt have enough for our own run. However when we got to the mill, had our crop weighed at 207 kilos and waited for Vincenzo to arrived Mario received a phone call to say that he had had a puncture and would be delayed. Some discussion with the owner, more waiting, a coffee and finally our olives were tipped into the hopper, the process began. We watched them go along the conveyor for washing, be crushed by huge stones, saw the resulting paste, which I thought looked very much like cat sick, spread onto pads that were piled onto a large spike and then put under pressure as very murky oil and water seeped out. After almost and hour the reservoir underneath was connected to a very magical machine, the liquid was pumped out and beautiful green oil poured into a tank. The proprietor said it was excellent oil, Mario said it was OK and I was euphoric. We paid 25 euros for the millimg, shook hands with the family and came home with 40 litres of hand picked, extra virgin, stone crushed gorgeous glossiness. We have made bruschetta for the last four nights with this delicious new oil, we can't get enough of it.
People are still picking all around us, the mills are working flat out. The lady at our frantoio told me they work 4 am till midnight for 2 months, parents, a son, a daughter and her husband all efficiently helping each other and I'm sure they've never had a days team building training in their lives.
We are so lucky to have such good pure oil, I've also been reading lots about the various scams selling imported stuff as Italian, mixing cheap vegetable oils and claiming them as extra virgin olive oil.My opinion of big business never improves, my admiration for people who work hard to produce something so wonderful increases daily.