Our friends who have around 75 olive trees asked us if we wanted to help. This is our second time to harvest there. We really love being involved in the olive harvest which has been happening here for thousands of years. To be able to be a part of something that has gone on for so long is really something we like about living here.
I have hurt my left knee and have been nursing it for over two weeks so I was really not sure I could be much use, but Luther wanted to go as much as me, and I was willing to try.
We have had at least two weeks of dry sunny weather. Everyone in Umbria has harvested much earlier than normal. We had a very hot and very dry summer which affected the crop. It is fairly plentiful and all my friends have had good harvests and weight to oil ratios are pretty good. Here are a few pictures.
They hire a helper team with the beaters that shake the olives from the top branches. They had started yesterday, and were back today. We others harvested the lower and interior branches.
I don’t mind admitting that a hard days work nearly killed me. I managed to work steadily the four hours up to lunch. And credibly, I might add 🙂. I worked probably five or six trees. While I worked I thought about the fact that I am a small part of a long, unbroken line of people, just like me, stripping the olives from the branches on a golden October day — year in and year out for thousands of years. Makes one feel the history of this ancient land.
When we left they had 20 boxes of olives to take to the mill. All the trees were harvested. I will try to find out what the weight was, and the yield of oil.
Ask me if I am happy I participated…YES! Thank you Joanne and Mark. Ask me again next year! 🫒🫒🫒💕💕💕
Yesterday it was announced that several regions were re-classified as Code Orange in the color-coded alert colors of yellow, orange and red. Here is a map. We are dead center just east of Tuscany which is also Code Orange.
Seeing this graph makes my heart sink.
The new restrictions take affect tomorrow. All bars and restaurants closed except for take-away and delivery. Shops and necessary services to include pharmacies, supermarkets, food stores, and tabbacchi remain open. All theaters, cinemas, gyms, museums, and swimming pools closed. Curfew 10pm to 5am. No one is allowed to leave their Comune unless for work or emergency reasons.
So it goes. Again. All that work in the Spring lockdown was for naught in the second surge. I am sure these new measures will slow it again. This is really difficult for Italy. At least we have the good news from Pfizer that the vaccine they are developing is proving very effective. So soon, we hope, that can be distributed. ~~~~~~ Of course, there is always something better to focus on. For me it is again the Olio Nuovo. You may be getting a little tired of posts about the new olive oil but it is such a part of Umbrian life, it cannot be ignored!
So far you’ve seen the oil which we received from friends whom we helped with the harvest. We had it in a dish with untoasted bread. Then we had it on bruschetta the next day. it is excellent quality oil.
But every year I also order oil from our friend Fabio who has a large orchard and makes his living from selling it. He told us he had gotten 400 liters this year and it is the best he has ever had. He also mentioned it is the greenest oil he’s ever seen. I had already ordered from him before receiving the oil from our friends. I figured out we use around 15-20 liters a year. So we are set until the next harvest. I spoke to our Italian teacher and she told me her family of five uses maybe 30 liters. When it is so good and so plentiful it becomes a big part of the Umbrian diet. It is also very healthy.
Last night we opened a bottle of Fabio’s oil. And it was fabuloso! We had it on bruschetta. Also, for dipping in my dipping dish. It is indeed, GREEN! I also took some photos of the haul. Fabio sells oil. All his oil is non-filtered, and the grove is not treated with any pesticides. His website is Olivoil.bio. If anyone is lucky enough to be here, and need oil, I’m sure you’d love the Olivoil.
Tomorrow, I think I’ll focus on the autumnal market. Luckily, this lockdown they have not shut down the weekly Umbrian markets. I suppose if we got to Code Red, that might happen. Let’s hope this one will slow it so we don’t get to Red. Here’s hoping the US can get some good policies in place to slow it there as well. Stay safe everyone! Wear your masks! Andrà tutto bene 🌈
We were given six liters of olio nuovo yesterday by our friends Joanne and Mark 🙂. It is a portion of the oil produced from our harvesting effort on Friday. They told us the yield was low but the quality is good.
Look how pretty this is! So green! We just had some bread dipped into the oil today. Bruschetta perhaps tomorrow. The flavor is wonderful. Grassy and peppery and slightly bitter. It will smooth out as it sits but I just love the new oil for its brashness. You can only get it like this one time a year so it is very special.
Raccolta means “harvesting”. Raccolto, means “harvest”. We participated in the olive raccolta, yesterday. It happens like clockwork every October and November here. We were invited by our friends Joanne and Mark who have 75 trees of varying age.
It is hard to overstate how important…how much a part of the yearly cycle, the olive harvest is to Umbrian life. For people who live here it is a way of life. It is something to look forward to, something that brings people together to work, and after a days work they join together in a meal. It is tradition.
Last week you may have read we visited our local hardware store. At this time of year it is chock full of all things raccolto. Hand rakes, long rakes, beaters (battery powered implements to shake the olives down), nets, crates, and all manner of containers to store it. Everyone is excited, getting ready for the new oil. It is a happy time, lord knows we need some happiness nowadays! The frantoio, or olive mill, is a happy place. It processes the olives 24/7 with the farmers and olive grove owners looking on lovingly as the “green gold” comes out of the spigot after the processing.
The new oil is unfiltered, so it is cloudy. But it is bright, brilliant green. Much greener than the olive oil most of us use daily. And it is only this way for a short time. It must be savored atop bruschetta or tagliatelle during the short time each year we have it. We put it on something mild flavored so the oil is the star! The qualities of Umbrian oil are a grassiness, and a peppery taste in the back of the throat. It has a very strong aroma. There is nothing mild or reticent about the oil from Umbria. It is a brash and in your face oil 😋. I love it completely. I really hope everyone who loves Italy can visit Umbria during the raccolto so they get a chance to experience the new oil. It is spettacolare. Most restaurants showcase it during meals at this time of year.
Yesterday dawned gray and foggy as it does for most of the winter here. We left at nine and drove to our friends house up in the mountains between us and Lago Trasimeno. They have restored an old abandoned farmhouse over many years. They are now retired here. Their property has an olive grove. It seems most properties have a grove if you’ve got any land at all. So in the fall, it is hard NOT to be invited to help in the raccolta. We really love it. Open air, good honest work among friends. In these Covid days it is nice to be safely among friends.
On the drive up the twisty road into the mountains we were first in dense fog. But the higher we got, the brighter it got. Until suddenly, we popped out above the clouds which created the fog below. Are these not spectacular pictures!?
We arrived and got to work. The fog had not yet burned off at this elevation so it was still quite cool. We worked until after two and then lunch was served. I was famished. Most people were pretty tired. Luther and I went back out and finished the tree we were working on and then headed home. Here are some action pictures and pictures of the views.
The 25 boxes went to the frantoio last night. I haven’t heard how many kilos we got nor how many liters were produced. I will include this in a future post.
It was fun as always to get outside with friends and do some honest work. To be able to participate in an Umbrian ritual that’s been going on almost the same for thousands of years is part of the reason we love living here. ~~~~~~ Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene 🌈