The olive grower follows, throughout the year, each phase related to the maintenance of the plant, using the most tested agricultural practices. The pruning, the fertilization, the flowering, the fruit set and the development of the final product up to the long awaited moment of the harvest.
Most people think that the harvest represents more than anything else a joyful celebration, as it was painted in the past. In reality it is only partially so. For the producer it represents one of the most delicate moments, because how and when it will take place will reflect heavily on the quality of the oil.
Each olive grower decides the harvesting method according to the characteristics of his olive grove which can be multiple (altitude and type of soil, quantity of plants, varieties of olives, etc.) and therefore will make the best choice in his opinion: a manual harvest, with mechanical means or both.
Once the decision is made, the timing will be crucial. To obtain quality oils, the perfect moment is when the fruit, that is the olive, has entered veraison, which represents the precise ripening period, that is when it starts to turn purple from green.
Why not wait for the olive to be more ripe? Because it will inevitably be a lower quality oil. To obtain oils rich in polyphenols (with vegetable, bitter and spicy hints in balance) that leave a pleasant sensation of clean, fresh fruit in the mouth, harvesting must be carried out when the olive is perfectly ripe.
Obviously, the quality of the oil does not arise only from harvesting, it depends on many other factors such as the storage of the olives, from transport to the mill, from the extraction method, from filtering. I will talk about these topics in the next stories, follow me.