Olive Harvest

1 Nov

It is the olive season. Harvesting season. Last weekend we went to the village and we visited one of the old olives presses places. From the moment I entered the place, the smell of the olives threw me in a state of reminiscence as I remembered my childhood when I first smelled it. And it is going to be hard for me to explain about the smell, a place redolent of olive scent. It is a great, amazing, strong smell, one of a kind, one of the best fragrances. It has the smell of the ground, the nature, the trees.

And what’s perfect than bringing home the finest olive oil and the most delicious olives to enjoy with pita bread and labné, or with zaatar ( a mix of dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame and olive oil), we call it “tartine zaatar”. There is also this tradition to fry some sweet dough, called Zalebieh, in the first new crop of olive oil.

Our village is surrounded by olive trees

Olive season is one of the most important season for the villagers because all the crop is preserved for a couple of years, some of it is sold as olives and as olive oil. Almost every family in my village has its own crop, its own trees. There are two ways of harvesting the olives, either by picking the olives by hand, the nice big ones, these would be preserved for eating, or “hitting” the olive tree with a stick and the olives will fall on a cloth placed under the tree.

These are collected, brought to olives presses and pressed and olive oil is extracted. Usually the black olives are pressed unless the grains were flawless, nice and big.

Black olives from our crop

Olives are preserved in jars with water and salt. We also add some lemon rinds, others add some fresh thymes.

Green olives from our harvest

The process of pressing olives is simple and nice. They start by splitting the olives from the leaves .. 

splitting the olives from the leaves

Then the olives are being washed in water

olives being rinsed...

… then sent to be ground and the paste is spread on a fabric made of goat’s hair… and then pressed and olive oil is extracted..

..the olive paste is being spread on layers...

... being pressed..

..then after being pressed, the oil is separated from the water and pulp and is poured into the jars or bottles…

The olive oil is still turbid and dense, it needs quite some time to be clearer

After being pressed and oil is extracted, the olives residue is not thrown away but it is used during winter to set aflame in the fireplace, along with woods.

I have tasted some of our olive oil and it tastes great, it is sharp, dense, and new. In the past, villagers used to eat and enjoy some drizzled fresh olive oil on a hot fresh loaf of saj bread baked by ladies in the village on the same day of olives presses. Fresh olive oil, fresh bread… How wonderful!!!

Fresh and new olive oil from our trees, our crop. I find it exquisite.

The dessert below has nothing to do with olives harvesting, but I mentioned it because it is one of the different kind of sweets that villagers bring along to the olives harvest to give them strength so they can continue their day. And because I ate alot of it during the weekend, either with biscuits or plain. This sweet is called “Raha” it’s chewy, coated with powdered sugar has different flavors and it is yummii, so delicious.


18 Responses to “Olive Harvest”

  1. christelle is flabbergasting November 28, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    WOW! Quelle expérience ! J’aimerais voir ça un jour et aller goûter l’huile d’olive directement à l’oliveraie !!! Je ne savais pas que tu parlais aussi Italien (you lucky!)… décidément, tu as pleins de dons !!

    • Fragolina November 29, 2010 at 8:32 am #

      Vraiment, c’est une très très belle expérience!! Un jour, si tu viendrais au Liban, nous pourrions y aller ensemble, et tu goûterais notre magnifique huile d’olive. Oui j’adore l’Italien, et tout ce qui est italien m’intéresse aussi. 🙂

  2. Phoo-d November 5, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    How very cool! I’ve only encountered freshly pressed olive oil once but I have never been able to get the vibrant flavor out of my head! We went through an entire liter of it in about two weeks. Absolutely marvelous stuff. I can only imagine how great it would be to have a ‘family olive oil’.

    • Fragolina November 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

      Yes it is amazing and I feel lucky to have our own “olive oil”. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  3. George November 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Per il momento è difficile parlare. Ma parlerò quando saremo ordinare pasti nuovo ed emozionante nei ristoranti. Ci vediamo dopo la mia signora.

    • Fragolina November 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

      Si, ordinaremo pasti in italiano quando saremo in Italia. A presto!!

  4. George November 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Sì, è un evento straordinario!

    • Fragolina November 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

      Hahahaha!!!! 🙂 mi piacerebbe ascoltarti parlare Italiano!!!! Bravooo!!!

  5. Jasmine November 3, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Che bello, la raccolta delle olive! Pensa che non ho mai visto farlo dal vivo, mi piacerebbe!!

    • Fragolina November 3, 2010 at 10:57 am #

      Ti piacerebbe di sicuro, come mai? e la raccolta delle olive in Italia é molto famosa e diffusa!! E una cosa magnifica, anché il profumo delle olive spremute!!! Bellissima!! 🙂

  6. Layal November 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    I loved this post! Very informative 🙂 and my god the olive oil looks soooooo delicious!! Thanks for the information and the pictures. I loved reading this.

    • Fragolina November 3, 2010 at 6:50 am #

      I’m glad you liked it!!! You shoud only be there and see how the smell of olives is all around, it is strong and beautiful. 🙂

  7. George November 2, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Yes only “Raha” no Garamti nor sweets from Nemer’s store “).

    • Fragolina November 2, 2010 at 11:33 am #

      Hahaha !!!! yes alrighty 🙂

  8. George November 2, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    It has been a very long time since I had the opportunity in sharing such an experience. I used to go with my grandfather to gather the olives.

    I’ve been told of how amazing the journey is considered to be in mimi’s village when the harvesting season begins.
    After sharing a small portion of it I’ve come to a realization that it’s a journey not to be missed. The smell captured my senses, after few sniffs and a couple of licks I started understanding what my wife meant when she used to tell me that cooking with the right and good olive oil would show the difference.

    I look forward to continuing this journey in this coming weekend, smelling more and definitely eating “Raha” :).

    These are nice pictures mimi and I found your explanation direct and easy.

    • Fragolina November 2, 2010 at 10:18 am #

      Yes dear, the smell did capture our senses, it is absolutely gorgeous 🙂 And it is true that a good drizzle of olive oil makes all the difference!!! 🙂 And we will eat Raha and biscuits this weekend 😀


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