Olive harvest is an activity that is a tribute to those who were born in the rural areas, having in each village one or sometimes more traditional mills.Many are the stories and memories of those farming moments that are remembered as happy moments of gatherings. Usually the harvest was made in family and accompanied by songs.
Intimately linked to Portuguese culture, it is a tradition that was brought by our ancestors many centuries ago and perpetuated in time, from its people and due their dedication to keep this knowledge alive.
Olive harvesting is carried out at different periods depending on the country’s region. For example, the beginning of the harvest does not occur at the same time between the Northeast Transmontano and the Alentejo, due to:
- the climatic characteristics of each region;
- varieties of olive trees;
- the different methods of seedings.
The final purpose of olive cultivation, such as, obtaining olives as appetizers or olive oil is another factor that also has influence.
Choosing the right timing is a matter of accumulated experience and can give the olive grower a competitive advantage in terms of yield, organoleptic characteristics, color, taste and flavor.
One of the ways to verify the level of maturity in which the olive meets is through its color. The harvest should occur in the turning phase – when the “olive” is turning purple, when it reaches the maximum amount of fat and it presents the best characteristics and in order to preserve the growth of the olive tree, which guarantees us the production of the following year.
The right harvest time is also closely associated with the characteristics of the oils to be obtained. Olive oils obtained from olives with the initial maturation stage have a greenish color and are more aromatic and fruity. From olives in full maturation are obtained oils with a pale yellow color and little rich in flavor. The traditional portuguese consumer opts for sweet olive oils and to obtain this type of olive oil it is important to harvest later.
In this journey of learning and knowledge about olive picking we are faced with other applications that the olive follows until having obtained the olive oil.
After picking, the olive goes through several stages before and after being delivered to the mill. Before being taken to the mill, it is cleaned by removing the olives that are not in condition and removing all the leaves and chips that it holds.
In the winepress is carried out washing, weighing, milling, batting, extraction of the oil, filtration and storage.
This ends the journey between knowledge and traditions that mirror the identity of a people.