The presses open from November until around January time, this is because in different areaas the picking times vary – mainly dependant on the altitude.
We start picking ours during the first weeks of December – when the olives have turned black and some have begun to fall.
We set out in teams to tackle two trees at a time. First, we put netting around the base of the tree we are starting on. Then, it’s a case of giving the tree a good whacking / a bit of a shake.
Once we’re sure that no more olives will fall, then we resort to using small hand-rakes, or just jump right in wielding thick gloves to protect us from the prickly branches, picking the stubborn olives off by hand.
Then it is to the floor! All dropped olives are gathered, too, even the ones that look like shrivelled raisins. This is because the oil is derived from the nut within the olive, so it’s a hard, back-breaking task to gather every last one.
We fill 25kg sacks or crates and pile them up together, until every tree is olive-free.
Once we have completed the whole field, we will walk it entirely in case we have missed any – to get our own oil back, we need a minimum of 500kg of olives, so it is imperative that we gather as many as possible to make sure we hit the mark.
The whole picking process takes between 1 and 2 weeks – it sure does help having 9 of us here to delve in – even the kids get involved.
After all of the olives are picked, it is time to make the appointment at the press and then get the crates/sacks down there!