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sao marcos da serra, park

Time for harvesting olives - things you need to know

Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Friday, September 30, 2011 Under: food and recipes

The olive tree is the oldest cultivated tree in the world and also the people of São Marcos da Serra love its fruit.  They have been milling it for decades to obtain a high quality rich oil. There were 3 olive oil mills (lagar de azeite) in the village, but unfortunately they all had to go for environmental reasons. Now you have to bring your olives to the mill in Messines. 

The olive tree flowers in May and the fruit can be picked around October (depending on the weather).  If you want the olives for the oil, you should pick them just before they are fully ripe, because it is then when they contain most anti-oxidants and least acid.  If you like to cure olives you should pick the green ones (look for the recipe at traditional food and recipes), especially the big round ones that look like mini apples (Maçanilha).

This year I could not use any of my beloved Maçanilhas because the olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) had a party with them. This fly is the worst enemy of the olives and it can destroy 100% of your harvest. But for next year I will be prepared. I found out how to trick this nasty little bugger with a trap.  This is how you do it:

Get some empty 1,5 liter PET bottles. Drill or melt 5mm wide holes around the "shoulder" of the bottle. Fill the bottle with 1 liter of ammonium bicarbonate solution (pharmacy) and screw the cap on. Hang 1 per tree in a shady spot. That should do the trick.

To get a good harvest it is also necessary to prune you olive trees yearly. If your tree is not pruned, you will only have a good harvest every second year. You should make sure that enough sun can reach all the fruit. You can find very detailed instructions on how to do this at the website  Although an olive tree can survive a summer without water, it is beneficial to the fruit if you give some water when the olives start swelling (August).  100 Liter per tree is recommended.
The best place to store your olive oil is in a dark glass bottle or in a stainless steel, ceramic or tin container. Keep it away from air, light and heat. Proper storage will keep the quality of your oil for up to 2 years. Once a bottle is opened you should use it within 2 to 3 months  Avoid using plastic containers and other types of metal, since the chemical reaction between the olive oil and the material can create toxic compounds.

The best olive oil you can buy is extra-virgin. It has an acidity of less than 1%. I believe in Jamie Oliver´s words: buy the best olive oil you can afford. Olive oil is the most stable fat, which means that it stands up well to high frying temperatures.  Its high smoke point (around 200 C) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (175-180 C).

In : food and recipes 

Tags: olives  olive oil  azeite  azeitones 
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