November in Italy can mean a lot of things, like a great variability both in weather conditions and in temperatures, food festivals...but most of all this month means that the olive harvest season has come back. Olive picking is one of the most traditional appointments of November throughout Italy even if the precise date for the olive harvest varies depending on the zone, the variety of olive and the climatic conditions over the past Summer. But It normally begins in the first week of November and ends in mid-December, and it must be done before the ripe fruit begins to fall off the tree, when the olives have reached the maximum size and the pulp begins to lose a little firmness. Picking the olives from the trees when they are still half-ripe, carefully carrying them to the mill as soon as possible and pressing them to obtain the delicious and precious “green gold” - as extra virgin olive oil is often defined – is a tough job.
The olive harvest in Italy is also an important social opportunity because families get together to pick the olives and press them for the first extra virgin olive oil. This makes it possible to pick the largest number of olives per tree and have the maximum oil yield, while maintaining quality levels. Normally 100 kg of olives yield 16 -18 kg of oil. This means that in the month of November all the olive groves, from the largest firms to the smallest holiday farms, are populated by local families, helped by friends and labourers, all busy carrying on a tradition that lasts from centuries now. The harvest is very simple, it consist in picking olives using nets and baskets and some special pliers, or even with bare hands. Under each olive tree, a large net is placed and serves the function of collecting the olives as they gradually fall from the plant. Once all of the olives have been collected off the tree, the net is removed and the small fruits are put in baskets or bales. This process can also be done with the use of machines, to accelerate the collection.
To enjoy the passionate and hectic mood of the harvesting season without the strain, this is the perfect time of the year to visit some of the many olive farms, especially those which also offer accommodations, scattered in almost every corner of the Italian countryside where olives are grown. Be it a luxurious country resort or a rustic farmhouse, you will be enthralled by the country's charm and by the olive oil taste.
Many hands are needed to pick olives..That's why it is not unusual to find farmers in search for a hand. It could become a very interesting experience for a tourist, an idea for a different and green holiday in Italy!
Enjoy the passion for the land, discover the products and try organic, good and genuine oil, on the territory where it is born and taste it when it just made with the products of the territory. It is possible to do so in several organic farms in Italy that offer eco-friendly stays, in country houses of great charm.
Olive oil is in basically every single Italian recipe, a true staple of the Mediterranean diet, therefore it simply has to be good. The best oil is obtained by the “metodo a freddo” (usually never over 80 °F / 27 °C), which presses the olives while keeping acidity low and retaining essential vitamins and nutrients.
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