Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread Appetizers

Harvesting Olives From Olive Trees

Olive trees use the nutrients preserved from the past year to yield flowers and fruit in the current year. Once the flower blooms during the winter, it undergoes a slow development into a ripe fruit by spring time. Black olives go from pink to purple and then to black, and they are commonly harvested from November to March. Green olives are commonly harvested starting in October. The volume of oil present within the olive fruit increases the more you let the fruit ripen. Oil that is pressed from ripe ones tends to be yellow or golden in color whereas oil pressed from lesser ripened fruit tends to be greener in color with a peppery kick.

The methods of harvesting olives will vary, depending on the location in which they are grown.  Some countries consider the fruit ripe when it naturally falls to the ground. Other countries pick a select time to take the fruit off the tree by picking them off, shaking them off, or beating them off.  No matter which method is used, the cultures growing the olives integrate ancient practices into doing the work of making olives happen. Despite the extended time and effort it takes to harvest olive oil, many people enjoy the unity the process brings to the society when everyone tends to participate. Even in bad weather, most cultures see harvesting olives as an honored tradition—a way to connect with their forefathers.

Of course, there is a high diversity of olive fruits and trees since this plant has been highly popular since biblical times. Spain produces over twenty different types of olive fruits and is known for the Greek Kalamata and Manzanilla varieties.  The sweet Kalamata olives are primarily used in vinaigrettes and are brined as soon as they are ready to be used. If they are not in a vinaigrette solution, then they are usually pickled. Keep in mind that when eating Kalamata olives, the seed will be present.

The manzanilla olive is commonly referred to as the Spanish olive, but it can be grown and harvested in Australia as well as California.  The term “manzanilla” literally means “little apple” in Spanish, but the taste is more of an almond flavor than anything else. The fruit is cured with brine and is sometimes stuffed with garlic or pimento.  Italy grows a popular olive tree that produces an early fruit with high oil content called Ascolona. The Ascolona olive, which is cured in sea salt and Peruvian water,  is great for being stuffed and fried, and it has a nice taste with no bitterness.

The Barouni olive oil, native to Tunisia, is considered the largest olive oil in existence. The fruit looks like a greenish-black plum. This olive is ideal for curing at home, but it is not pressed for its oil. Today, the Barouni olive can be grown and harvested in the United States.

The amount of olives a tree produces will largely depend on its age and origin.  Trees no more than 20 years old, known as immature olive trees, will produce significantly lesser fruit than trees between the ages of 30-100 years. Ancient trees, trees at least 150 years old tend to produce limited fruit.

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