For dozens and dozens of years now, between October and November, in the countryside takes place the olive harvest.
A very old peasant tradition, which is still handed down from generation to generation and that at the time brought together entire families where each member had a very specific role.
The men climbed the branches of the trees with wooden ladders and collected the olives with their hands, one by one, dropping them into a basket tied around the waist.
Women and children collected the olives from the lower branches and placed those that had fallen from above inside large baskets woven by hand.
The baskets were placed on a wagon and then transported to the oil mill where the olives were ground.
At noon the gathering would stop to gather under the trees to eat all together.
A tablecloth was placed on the ground where the food and drinks were placed in the center. Once the break was over, the harvest would resume and last until sunset.
Only after the war, it became common to use the cloth that was put around the tree, so as not to lose the olives that fell to the ground.
The men hit with long poles the twigs loaded with olives that, once on the ground, were collected by women and boys.
To optimize this slow and tiring work it was decided to use the rake instead of the hands, in order to pull the olives off the branches.
From the field to the oil mill but also to the table, the housewives selected certain types of olives that were then seasoned and preserved, and would serve to accompany dishes throughout the winter or to increase the taste of a simple bite of bread.
At the mill the olives were ground by a huge stone millstone turned by mules. The “paste” obtained was put to the press in special containers for pressing.
A certain amount of olives both green and black, carefully chosen and selected, were prepared by housewives to be consumed in winter. Part of the green olives, washed and placed in a barrel or jar with the addition of garlic, wild fennel, hot pepper and covered with water saturated with salt, was the companion that almost all farmers brought to work in special containers made of pumpkins dried and emptied of seeds.
The remaining green olives were crushed to make them open and mixed in water, which was changed every day until they took on a bitter taste. They were then squeezed and seasoned with garlic, celery, hot pepper, mint, vinegar and oil.
The black olives, crushed or cut with a knife in three different points, were seasoned with hot pepper, garlic, salt, wild fennel seeds and lemon slices and mixed from time to time, were dried in the sun until they lost their bitter taste. To preserve them for a long time they were put in oil.
The oil was brought home in wineskins and placed in jars to be then tasted by all the family and friends, a convivial moment in which we found ourselves in front of the fireplace and those who had participated in the collection tasted the new oil on a warm slice of toast.
This story almost gives us chills!
Even after years and years, we did exactly the same thing with our EVO Oil this year for the first time!