What a bounty our olive tree provides!
Our abundant olive crop began ripening in mid September, a full month from our projected harvest time. We were looking to set up workshop dates for late October, but quickly realized the crop would be diminished by then. So we got busy and started harvesting.
The harvest looked like an immense undertaking. Our olive tree bent with fruit. We began midweek with just two of us hand-picking. We picked about ½ gallon.
We continued on Sunday 9/18, with a Meet-Up contingent that included Claudia, who taught us how her Portuguese grandmother harvested olives by tapping the laden branches with poles, and collecting the olives as they fell onto sheets or tarps. We organized ourselves into harvesters and sorters (for green, black, and bicolored olives). Later we washed and destemmed the olives, then abraded their skins as we prepped them for curing.
Wafic offered us a detailed demonstration of how to dry salt cure olives, as his father taught him in Lebanon. We spooned a ½ gallon of olives on a wide, plastic lined tray. The olives were generously covered with sea salt, and tossed, so that all sides of the fruit were covered with salt. Then they were left in the sun to cure. The salt leaches the bitterness from the olives over the course of several days to weeks, depending on the size of the olive.
Everyone took home olives to try their hands at curing or brining them.
Our olive harvest continued Sunday 9/25 with a small crew. We will continue to harvest over the next few weeks. Come join us Sundays from 8:30-10:30am at Throop Learning Garden.
Here are some olive preservation resources:
General Olive Preserving
Dry,Salt Curing Olives
Wafic’s Dry Salt Cure Olive Recipe
It's a simple process but takes time. Here's what we need:
Clean glass bottles to crush the olives
Rack, cookie sheet, or bowl
— January Nordman