Olive Oil Harvesting – Off to the factory

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Sunday 14 December, 2014 by Uncle Spike

In part one of this post, we looked at the harvest season and preparing to pick. In part two there was the physical stripping of fruit from the trees. Now time to go to prepare to go to the factory…

Once all the trees have been stripped, the final phase comes into play – a trip to the factory. First job is to bag up all the olives and haul them to the factory a few kilometres from the farm.

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I buy empty flour sacks from the local bakery for a small fee as they are the best method by far. Each sack can hold 60kg, but then it’s hard to get them in and out of my old car, so tend to put three large bucket loads in each bag, resulting in a weight of 40kg (88 lbs) per bag – therefore, manageable 🙂

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I can stack up to 10 sacks in my car! That’s a lot, at 400kg (880 lbs), but no more than 3-4 large(ish) passengers, so no big deal if I take it slow. If it’s a good year, I make two trips back-to-back and then put through one large machine load. This year wasn’t bad in the end, with 18 sacks all told, so that tips the scales at around 610kg (1,345 lbs).

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At the factory you have to wait your turn. The factory works 24×7 from November through January, but I have found turning up at 8am (which involves cramming kid into the car too for the school run) means I can be done and home by early afternoon. Leaving it until the evening can mean hanging around a cold factory in December until two in the morning (been there, done that, but no t-shirt). This year’s plan for an early start didn’t go to plan on that score.

In the image below, the pile of sacks with the orange tub on top was mine. But there were six loads before mine on the list, including the tractor load seen here.

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I had been picking pretty much solidly for six weeks, and even though I had salted the waiting stockpile regularly, it was beginning to turn, and by that I mean the olives had started to go mushy. In fact, in the image above you can see the leakage from some of the sacks. They’ll still produce oil, but the factory sometimes rejects the entire load as it means more cleaning of the conveyors etc. It was a nerve-racking four hour wait for my slot, but thankfully the guy let it pass. Such a relief, after having lost 50% of a crop on a previous year (my miscalculation).

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As to what happens inside the factory, I’m preparing a post on that….

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22 thoughts on “Olive Oil Harvesting – Off to the factory

  1. […] on from the olive harvest and the trips to the oil factory, all the sacks had to be cleaned off, inside and out, as the olives leave an oily brown sludge […]

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  2. This was a fascinating journey you took us on. In Central California the olives business is huge so I was interested to read about yours. You’ve also learned a lot over the last years! Bravo!

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  3. dayphoto says:

    I am finding this extremely interesting. You are doing olives and we just did corn (as for animal feed or as for cornmeal—to make corn flour, cereal, etc. http://cornmeal.com/ )

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/?s=The+Adventures+of+Fuzzy+and+Boomer&submit=Search
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

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  4. orples says:

    It sounds like harvesting olives can be nerve-racking. I’m sure you are relieved after a successful sale. 🙂 Taking us through the process is/has been an interesting journey.

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  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Spike Dave and i have just been reading your post. It was in Turkey that Dave developed a love of olives. Prior to that he really didn’t like them. He says that is because the ones in Turkey were amazing. We are really enjoying seeing the process of what it takes to get from the tree to the consumer.

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  6. joannesisco says:

    I am constantly underestimating the amount of work that goes into your farm. Wow! It all jumped into perspective for me when you said you had spent 6 weeks harvesting olives. Double Wow! …. and then the photo of your poor little car weighed down like a beast of burden.
    I am really looking forward to the next instalment. This is very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fredrieka says:

    fresh olive oil wow, dadwithoutpaws has a press he does canola and soy

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  8. lizbert1 says:

    Wow, I had no idea that the process was sooooo long, but its fascinating hearing the details! I look forward to the next post!!

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  9. How much was the bill for fixing the broken car suspension?

    Liked by 1 person

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