Beginning of November, during the early harvest all farmers are praying for a good harvest in the olive groves. This year, 2002, is an unusually wet September in the history of the Peloponese region, which destroyed the grape crops, raisins. Wine is going to be scarce in the most popular regions of Greece. For instance in Nemea, a famous wine producing region known for its quality wines, 17 wineries will remain closed this year!
Rain is good for the olive groves, they love it, as long as it stays relatively dry during the harvest. We do not harvest when its raining. But the unexpected came, 'HAIL' and this is what olive farmers fear the most. The next day we were out counting the damaged olives on the ground. Almost 15% of the olives were hit by hail, damaged and fell off the trees. Not a good way to start. We started in full force working on the 12th of November a beautiful sunny day, (bad weather doesn't last for too long in Greece.) The temperature averages right now 22-24 degrees celsius. Olive harvest fever is everywhere. We start at sunrise and we stop at sunset. Time is not our ally, we have a small window and we have to take advantage of the good days before the weather becomes wet again.
The noise from the chainsaws breaks the calm and peacefulness of the olive grove. We are pruning the olive trees of the loaded branches, then another party takes those branches and they start hand removing the olives, while another party removes the olives from the hanging branches. While this is going on the last group accumulates the olives and puts them in 70 kilo sacs. We are hoping by the end of the day to have about 25 sacs full. The next day we will start the pressing.
We will soon find out how good the crop is this year. The olive trees are loaded with olives ,but the olives won't produce much oil this year. We had a drought, that significantly reduced our yield. Life is wonderful for the farmer, you never know how nature will respond, and what the results will be.
At the mill, we try to get the lowest possible temperature, around 25 degrees, which is the most important part of pressing quality extra virgin olive oil. This 'cold pressing' protects the over 200 nutrients and flavour in the fresh new oil. Our efforts are realized when the first pressing of the Golden Olive "Eleni" certified organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil starts pouring out. At this point, we are always ready to taste the thick, green, aromatic extra virgin olive oil by pouring it on our fresh bread and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Believe me it is worth it. The Olive Harvest is a celebration of Life and another year to be thankful for God's blessings.
Our Certified Organic New Harvest will be shipped to Vancouver and everything going well will be available in 2003. For all our Chef's that requested the larger sizes of our Golden Olive 'Vassiliki' Green and Kalamata Olive Tapenades will be available in 1kilo jars in 2003. Please call for more details 604-460-0087 or visit our web site www.basiloliveoil.com.
As soon as the oil is on its way, I will be back in Vancouver, Adio for now.
Taken From: The Olive Harvest in Greece by Basil Koutalianos Chefs' News
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