We picked our friends’ olives for two days and our own for almost two days ending with 268 kilos of fruit on Saturday afternoon. I contacted our nearest frantoio (mill) to make a reservation but they said they weren’t taking bookings and we should just arrive with our crop and take our turn. Last year we went early morning and unloaded our olives straight away so it was surprising to arrive before 5 pm to find a big queue. We had to park on a busy road, we weren’t even into the premises with several large trailer loads of olives in front of us. We waited an hour and nothing happened, then a girl came out and gave us a piece of paper with 11 written on it, our place in the queue. We waited another hour before things started moving and another half hour before we got to the unloading bay where our plastic crates of olives are tipped into one large box, by which time it was dark. Unfortunately whilst loading Mr FF spilt a crate of olives onto the ground, or as he explained it one of the crates decided to dislodge another. I scooped up the top ones that were still clean and Mr FF scooped up a few with gravel on them. Meanwhile one of the frantoio staff managed to damage some plastic trim on the car whilst dragging out crates.
We watched our olives being weighed, they had to move Mr FF off the scale as he was on it too, and we were given a scrap of paper with our name and the total weight hand written on it to place on top of the olives. It always happens like this, you get no receipt, there is just a flimsy ticket with your information, usually people stay with their olives while they are processed to ensure their safety but we were told ours wouldn't be ready for two days, Monday, and even if there wasn’t a big queue understandably they didn’t want people hanging around. We left our 50 litre oil can and came home feeling a bit concerned.
There was no phone call on Monday. Late afternoon I tried to contact the frantoio but got no response. It’s such a disorganised system, you wonder if your ticket has blown away and your olives have gone in with someone else’s. We were next to a harvest that was several large crates worth it would be easy to think without a ticket ours were part of that.
Fortunately this morning we got the call, and were told when we got to the mill gates to telephone for access. We thought things would be quiet mid day but there was a queue of 18 vehicles on the road and they weren't opening the gates till 1.30. I felt so sorry for people who work hard picking then have to spend hours and hours waiting, some of them will have more harvesting to do and want to crack on while the weather is good but everyone seemed good humoured and some were taking the chance to have a nap in the sun. After trying to turn us away saying they had no oil for sale they let us into the mill and we had to find the can we’d left, our oil was waiting in a large hopper. We had 43 litres, that’s an amazing yield, even the staff agreed we’d done really well and suddenly all the hard work and the stress of waiting was forgotten. Enough oil for another year, we will share the crop from our friends’ olives and have plenty for friends and family.
Yes of course there was bruschetta for lunch, and maybe for dinner too. The oil is so fresh and green we can’t get enough of it. The vibrant colour will gradually fade, you can see this years next to last years, it all tastes good but the new oil is so special. Maybe all the hard work and hassle makes it taste even better, certainly the amount of satisfaction we get producing our own oil is incredible and I’m hopeful we will do it all again next year.