The 2017 Olive Harvest

This year, for the first time, I had a team of friends and family members helping me with the olive harvest for one day so we made it a special event.

I chose the day according to the availability of the team as well as the weather, and it had to be close to the orthodox day of Archangel Michael, which is traditionally when I harvest the olives of my premium, unfiltered olive oil (see my dedicated blog post about the Archangel Michael's early harvest).

My friend Markos, who works for the French television, took a lot of footage, so his colleague Didier could edit the video below. Thank you very much to them both!

My cousin Manolis, who is a professional photographer, also took some really good shots. Many of the following pictures are his, although the low-resolution format I had to convert them into does not do them justice. Thank you Manolis!

I chose this special day to be the 8th November. I set off early in the morning to prepare everything so that the team could start at around 9am. Below was the view I enjoyed when I arrived.

I first brought all the empty crates to my "Tramontana" Olive Grove, which I chose to be the place of the harvest for this day. This olive grove benefits from a unique location, surrounded by various citrus groves and natural aromatic herbs. Close to the Libyan Sea, it has a unique soil composition making it very fertile and its orientation generally ensures a satisfactory olive ripeness early in the harvest season.

It is however a tricky piece of land: high up on a steep hill, it is of difficult access. My tractor cannot go between the trees, so there is a lot of carrying to do. And last but not least, you have to be careful not to fall when you work there as you can stumble on small stones and easily lose your balance because of the steep slope.

Makita, the power tool company, also helped me, as they lent me some equipment for the whole harvesting season and offered me to keep the tool of my choice afterwards. Thank you Makita!

We started at the top of the hill, where I had previously laid the nets down of the olive trees.

The men focused on getting the olives down of the trees with the handheld harvesters. These tools work like electric combs softly scraping off the olives from the tree branches.

The ladies concentrated on gathering together the olives that had fallen down on the nets, discarding any extra small branches and foliage and filling the crates with the olives.

As the first trees on the top of the hill were harvested, we gradually moved down, rolling up the nets and unrolling them again down the next set of trees.

The team gathered for a group shot before some of the members had to leave for other commitments. Too bad, they missed our lunch!

After the top half of the olive grove had been harvested, we had a traditional Cretan picnic lunch: hard-boiled eggs, olives (from last year, prepared by my Mother), tomatoes, Graviera cheese, Paximadia (the Cretan hard bread), and of course SAFIkala olive oil!

We resumed work after the lunch break and were done by 4pm.

The earlier you extract the oil from the harvested fruit, the better quality olive oil you obtain. So I drove the crates straight to the press, where I had a slot booked to press my olives immediately.

Within a couple of hours, we could try the pure olive juice at its freshest! This super-fresh olive oil has a bright green colour and its taste is distinctively pungent.

Whilst we waited for the olive oil to be extracted, we enjoyed a quick warm meal of pork chops that my friend Giorgos came to grill for us!

It was a memorable day for everyone, and a very enjoyable experience, which I will repeat next year with those of my friends who would like to join in!

Thank you again, everybody!

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