What a day! We started out early to Calagrana to begin picking at 9AM. Ely had an appointment at the mill for between 2:00 and 2:30. There were seven trees left to pick. The crew was: us, Ely, Ely’s friend Catarina, one other woman and the gardener. We picked non-stop until around 1:00 when we were pretty well finished. We left Ely to load up two vans with the boxes of olives and we were to meet her and follow them down to the oil mill in Pierantonio, the next town down from Umbertide.
The mill was a busy place! It being all new to me I was fascinated. Ely and Catarina drove the vans onto the scale. They weighed them and then we unloaded the olives. Then they moved the vans back onto the scale to be weighed empty. Turns out we picked 700 kilos of olives! Next they load the olives into a giant vat and the olives are sucked down from the bottom where they climb a sort of ladder and blowers blast the leaves and stems away. Next they go into the washer and up a ramp and into the hoppers. There were essentially five hoppers so they could process five people’s olives at once, each in turn being finished into oil. In the hopper there were big, round blades that blended the olive paste for 45 minutes. While this was going on as each other hopper was ready they turned a handle and the paste drained out, under the floor, and was separated into the glop, the oil and the water. The oil then trickles out, through a filter and then into the containers.
It was fun watching the other people as they waited for their oil. Everyone was happy and smiling at everyone else. The olive harvest is a happy time! The work is done. The trees have done their work as have the harvesters. Happy customers carried heavy containers of oil to their vehicles. There was an amusing group of 5 “boys” (all looked to be in their 60s or 70s). They had a shared grove and they worked together to harvest it. Then they had to divide it up. It was amusing to see them watching that scale like hawks to be sure no one got more than anyone else!
The final numbers for Ely’s harvest were…700 kilos of olives, pressed into 88 liters of oil or about 12%. So 12% of the olives were oil and the rest – skins, pits and water. Ely was happy but not ecstatic. It was a good-ish year.