It is olive harvest time here in Tuscany.  We have a number of olive trees which are producing olives.  On Sunday since it was sunny and had been dry for 2 days I decided to pick.

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Everyone has a different idea about when to pick.  Since we really don’t have a large enough crop yet to have the olives made into oil and I still have no idea where the fattoria or mill is I decided  to pick and then preserve.  That was my intent last year when I picked but I couldn’t find the recipe that I carefully packed and moved with us.  Over the summer I found it.  An article that was in Fine Cooking about preserving olives at 3 different stages of ripeness; green, speckled and black.  Just what I needed.  The speckled stage recipe is very involved so I decided to just do black and green.

And everyone has a different opinion about whether I can preserve these olives rather than making oil with them.  Some say they are too small.  Some say it is okay but they won’t be very ‘meaty’.  Whatever!  The only other choice is to not pick and let them go bad which I just can’t do.  Neither recipe requires expensive ingredients, just time, so I’ll just give them a try.

Off I went to pick.  The owners of the house have a wonderful traditional basket that is tied around the waist so that hands are free for picking.

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Picking on Sunday was quite pleasant.  It was sunny and not too cold.  Very few noisy motorcycles, not too many hunters.  A few birds singing.  I felt very much a part of the rhythm of the land.  Ohhh so farm.  For Italians picking is very much a family affair.  Of course Ben was not interested.  But I did think of my mother while I was picking.  It is from my mother and both of my grandmothers that I inherited this love of fruits and vegetables and growing and picking them.  Maybe when we visited California my mother saw olives growing.  I don’t think she ever got a chance to pick any but I’m sure she would have enjoyed it.

As the basket gets full it really starts to pull on your back.  Is this what pregnant women feel like?

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This is what I picked from 5 trees.  But I have to qualify that.  I only picked what I could reach.  None of this ladder foolishness.  It is way too hard on my feet.

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I picked all the leaves and stems out.  And then spent hours (while watching TV) pricking each one with a fork.  (I’m not sure when the black residue will wear off my fingertips)  Then packing them in a wicker basket layered with salt and weighted down.  They are supposed to be turned once a week and more salt added as needed.  We’ll see.

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I went for the ‘United Nations’ of cans to use as weights.  Italian tomatoes, Green Giant corn from the US  and Thai coconut milk.  Hey we’re all about diversity here.  I’m still working on the green olives.  Look for another post about them.

Tradition lives at Covivole with a twist.

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1 Comment

  1. I am so enjoying the blogs on olives, and can’t wait until its my turn to pick and sure. Loved your pictures.

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