The months of October and November are the most important moments for extra virgin olive oil producers.
The fruits of a year of work and sacrifices are harvested and the aim is to produce the best EVO ever, but, even if it may seems something simple or mechanical, the entire production process that ends with the production of our extra virgin olive oil, exceeds by far the general ideas.
Starting with the olive harvest, a demanding practice but capable of giving immense satisfaction right from the start; apparently simple, the harvest of olives, in order to be effective, must be carried out on time, with the right methods and ways.
The method in which the olives are harvested determines in the long run the quality of the olive oil itself and for this reason it must be carried out with the utmost care.
In this article we will not only show where, when and how to harvest the olives, but we will show you in detail how we at Frantoio Bonamini try our hand at harvesting for the production of our extra virgin olive oil.
To answer the question of when to harvest olives, several factors must be taken into account; first of all we look at the level of ripeness of the olives.
If you aim to obtain an EVO oil with herbaceous hints and aromas that turn between bitter and spicy, it will be necessary to proceed with an early olive harvest, resulting in a bright green extra virgin olive oil.
If, on the other hand, a late harvest is carried out, with more mature olives, a less intense extra virgin will be obtained, both in color and aroma.
To understand the degree of ripeness of the olives just look at the color of the peel.
In our opinion, harvesting the olives in an intermediate period meets all needs, creating a balance both in production and in tasting.
Our oil mill is involved in this process every year, between mid-October and the end of November / beginning of December; the length of the olive harvest varies even if we are in a period of “charge” or “discharge”.
Even the olive harvesting techniques are not to be taken lightly, as just like the harvest time, they also influence our final extra virgin olive oil.
First of all, the more ripe the olives, the lower their resistance to detachment and therefore the harvest will be easier for those who work. On the other hand, however, the more mature they are, the more easily damaged they become. Dents and cuts favor the action of mold and rot, as well as possible alterations of the oil contained within them.
For this reason we here at Frantoio Bonamini implement two methods of olive harvesting:
• By hand: the oldest harvesting method, which allows us to reach the olives at the highest points and to have a perfectly cured and intact final product.
Given the amount of work to be done in the shortest possible time, in this case, we rush to the help of small rakes and this operation takes the name of “combing”, as they go to comb the branches of the olive trees.
• Shaking: for our land, manual olive harvesting alone is not the most practical choice, so we use mechanical shakers. Consisting of a rod that ends with a hook, which is inserted between the olive branches and shaking it, causes the olives to fall. Tools like these are functional and efficient, creating a clear advantage in technical terms, for the well-being of the olive tree and the quality of the extra virgin olive oil.
It should also be mentioned that nets have always been used to further facilitate the olive harvest, Stretched out under the olive trees, avoid direct contact of the fruit with the earth and facilitate the subsequent harvesting and the arrangement and preparation of the olives for the crusher.
Once the olive harvest is finished, it is useful to know that you must immediately organize the trip to the mill, in special boxes and / or containers that avoid possible damage to the drupes and allow the passage of air.
It is not common knowledge, but the olives should be processed in the shortest possible time; optimal would remain within 12 hours of harvest. In that, when an olive is detached from the tree, or rather from the “mother”, the same fruit begins a process of decomposition and an increase in the acidity of the oil. Factors that could, and in most cases, compromise the quality of our final extra virgin olive oil.