Olive harvest

It’s December, time to harvest the olives!  It is since the 1960’s that Crete has lots and lots of olive trees, some say 30 milion, others say 35 milion, well it will be somewhere inbetween these 2 numbers.  Olive trees don’t always carry a lot of olives, like all fruit trees, the one year the harvest of a tree is huge, the next year it’s medium and the next year usually even less and then it starts all over again.  

Families in Crete can have over 5000 olive trees and imagine having to harvest them all, that is an amazing job so these families hire groups of people who have the full equipment to harvest olives, as you can see in the small video below

This equipment exist of nets that are put under the tree; jute bags to put the olives in so they can be trasported; a coarse sieve that separates the olives from the twigs and leaves; a generator that gives power to the oliviera, which is a tool that has large tongs that spin around quickly, hit the tree branches and like this remove the olives from the tree, and ofcourse the oliviera itself.

This is a quit hard job but as long as the weather is fine people enjoy it, they work together outside in nature, take a break to have a coffee or lunch under the trees and then start harvesting again.  Everyone has his own task, some people put the nets under the trees, others work with the oliviera, others gather the olives, others seperate them from the twigs and leaves and others put them in the jute bags.  It’s when it starts raining or snowing that the work starts to be really hard and difficult! 

It can take weeks or months to gather all the olives.  The olive harvest usualy ends at the end of February and then it is time to prune the trees.  Also a job that takes some time to be done, so olive farmers are busy all winter long. 

And ofcourse as soon as the first olives are harvested they are brought to the olive press where that very healthy and tasty olive oil is made.  After the olives are pressed the oil has to rest for about one month to be ready to consume so every year in January the new olive oil is ready to be tasted and sold.

Old olive mill

Already during the Minoan time olive oil was made in Crete. The olives were broken by using stones, the olive pulp was mixed with water, put in a press and the mixture that came out of the press was put in basins. As water is heavier than olive oil, the water went down in the bassin so the olive oil was separated from it and easy to recuperate.

The pictures below show you a later used way of the process.

 

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Today machines are used.