Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dodgy geezers

The life of the olive mill owner is one which is cast in shadow as they is invariably cast as an untrustful character.

They will 'cook' your olives so as to extract more oil in which case they get paid more for the milling. They have a secret pipe that siphons off your oil during the process or they are just don't pay you. These are amoung the kinder ones.

This is an oft repeated conversation between olive growers this time of year as one of the stock conversation pieces is "and what mill did you use"?

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's done

We picked the final few trees today so we have finished the 2010 harvest.

The trees are now bereft of their fruit and so the grove after having been full of trees laden with fruit only a month ago now looks bare with the trees somewhat bedraggled after having their fruit stripped from them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What type are they?

Here we have the three different types of olive that we are picking from the Casa Margherita grove. From the top we have frantoio, moraiolo and leccino and the picture does reflect their different sizes.

These are the traditional Umbrian varietals and our grove is 95% moraiolo with the rest made up of the other two.

We are getting itchingly close to finishing picking - we only need another days picking but the weather is poor with lots of rain.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What to wear!

What to wear for the market this weekend. My lucky yellow olive oil selling trousers are finally hors de combat and so I have to find something to replace them with.

I have recently bought a red lumberjack shirt - my mother said I could carry a check - and rather thought this would replace my trousers but it did not cover itself itself in glory last weekend. Maybe I should give it second chance..

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

La resa

One of the key moments when you are having your olives pressed at the Frantoio is when they tell what your resa is. This is the yield of oil in kilos compared to the weight of olives you have had pressed. This can be a matter of pride or of quiet reflection if it is low.

I have had yields from 13 to 18% which reflects the different times of picking and pressing. The higher yields are from the most recent pressing when the fruit was all ripe.

Other regions will have very different yield levels. I was speaking to someone from Tuscany the other day and he spoke of yields around 24% being more the norm.

Cup of tea and a couple of slices please luv

 Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo e dei Prodotti tipici

Last weekend and this coming weekend is the above market in Valtopina. I was surprised nay amazed at the number of vendors of jams/fruit conserves there were and who were selling an incredible variety of fruit based products. I would not have thought of Italy as a country with such a passion for jams. How wrong I was.

Such is my surprise that I think a little research into the “current European consumption levels of jams and fruity conserves on a by country basis” would not be time unwisely spen

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today it has been pouring with rain so no picking. This was a chance, like many others, to catch up on things that had slipped whilst picking.

For us this included picking up some jeans that Rachel had taken to be altered. Whilst she was doing this I was idling wandering around the shop when some underpants caught my eye - gents I hasten to add.
As is common with quite a few cheaper clothes brands these used an english word together with italian on them. They had "just cavalli' sown into the waistband. Who'd want to wear pants with just horses written on them I thought.

Much better with no english like mine -  with 'caos' written on them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

La raccolta - part 2

Back in the harness today - quite literately in my case with my new Umbrian olive picking bag. Have to say it is very useful and very good for your neck muscles when you have a few kilos in it.

Rachel made a couple for us as we couldn't find where to buy them but the mice did for them over the winter and so I have the wonderful example.

Picking by hand is very peaceful and calming but very slow - can't quite imagine picking all our trees in this way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What colour is olive oil

We make our own olive oil soap here at Casa Margherita and the admittedly bad photo shows our soap on the left and some commercial olive oil soap on the right.

I wager that people would want/expect olive oil soap to be green and so be drawn to the product on the right. Nothing wrong with that.

But what about olive oil itself. I think that the public are very used to shop bought oils which are golden yellow or very slightly tinged with green at best. The fact is newly pressed olive oil is very green and it is only its exposure to heat and light that changes it to yellow.

Our new olive oil is very green - think engine oil - but is like all other oil currently being produced here in Italy at the moment.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who needs a 4x4

I spotted this lovely old Fiat 500 in the grove below our house over the weekend. Here is someone who doesn't mind that this grove is routinely ploughed twice I year - he needs to get to where there is some picking to be done.

Lovely car and a great colour too - burnt ochre I'm told.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feeling guilty

As we have walked amoungst the olive groves recently we have both been feeling guilty as everyone else is busy picking and here we are taking things easy walking the dog. The reason is my hand is still in a cast and so I cannot pick.

I say everyone is picking and this is true as after i Santi (1 Nov) everyone traditionally starts to pick. This is the modern tradition as the older tradition would have seen the date being St Catherine's day which is the 25th November.

As for we are planning to re-start on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fit for gleaning only

Last Friday saw me spend the night in hospital as my hand had become infected. The cause remains unknown but boy did it hurt.

Anyway we have stopped picking for a few days to give my hand time to clear up. So until it does all I could manage would be to mop after the pickers and ensure no fruit is left behind on the ground - gleaning.