Sunday, November 14, 2010

olive harvest in greece

one of the reasons i am in greece is that i wanted to accompany my sister, who is making a film about the olive harvest. the only problem was, when we were planning the dates for the trip, we didn't know exactly when the harvest would be. she assumed it might be as late as early december, and since i was returning home by thanksgiving, i might miss it.

but i guess the gods were with us. 

as soon as we arrived in the little town of poulithra, where my sister has stayed in past years, a friend of hers told us that her olives were ready for harvest. almost one month early. 

so we drove the long, rocky road to susan's house and were met with this mass of beautiful olives spread out on her terrace overlooking the sea.......

we pitched in with rakes and started shaking the trees...

removing the large stems and branches - having my hands in all this color was almost as much fun as fingerpainting in kindergarten

we loaded the bags and drove to the next village where the olive press was located.

we had all taken bets on the amount........susan's harvest weighed in at 549 kilos (nikos in the first foto won the bet!)

first you empty the bags into the hopper

and watch the olives march up the conveyer like so much black and green confetti 

this man was clearing away the olive leaves and stems

and manning the control panel

getting ready for the flow

of liquid gold into the containers

what a beautiful sight......and to think the olives were just on the trees hours before....

the fun part -- lugging the now-full jugs into the back of the car

we drove down to the beach and susan stopped at a bakery along the way for a loaf of bread

and like the best tailgate picnic in the world we dipped the bread into the warm oil

happy to feel it running down our chins

and thanked the olive gods for our serendipitous timing to participate in this unique experience......

xo♡a

40 comments:

  1. So glad you caught the harvest and the process. I bet you two were most tired at the end of it all. Bet too the freshness of the oil was incomparable.

    I wrote of harvests in my memoir, of how all would be involved in the harvest. A most tiring and rewarding experience. Lucky for those people the olives were abundant this year.

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  2. Wow, fascinating. Great series of pix showing the whole process.

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  3. You are the goddess of telling the story. To hell with my blog attempts (for the moment) I am just forwarding this to all my friends.

    What a treasure you are. Mille grazie!

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  4. Amanda, the photos tell quite a story of the labors of harvest... what a great story! I am so glad that you were fortunate enough to enjoy the early harvest as we would all have missed your adventure!

    Bises and safe travels,
    Genie

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  5. Oh, Amanda, this is a post close to my heart (and stomach). My wife's parents and ancestors made their living by harvesting olives, some of their own and others owned by local farmers. We still have olive groves in the family; not enough to generate income, but certainly enough to always have wonderful olive oil, extra virgin, in the house. My daily breakfast is bread with olive oil. To me it is as close to the elixir of life as I will ever likely get.

    Out of curiosity, what is the Greek word for olive press or olive mill? In Spain, it is almazara, which like almost Spanish words that begin with al-, come from Arabic.

    I have participated in the harvesting and trip to the almazara, so I really appreciate the photos.

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  6. This is just amazing - warm olive oil straight from the tree - yum. wonderful photos and mental images of warm greek sun and warm oil.

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  7. I was right! This is all a movie! not really happening at all! :)

    Good grief Amanda! What will you and Deborah do next? This was so fascinating, I loved the sequence of photos and learning/seeing how olive oil in Greece is made and oh how I would love to be there and sample it organic, warm and fresh. ummm.

    Bravo bravo! I am having so much fun traveling with you.

    ♥ lori

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  8. Dear "Twin',

    What a wonderful- wonderful post!
    Amazing, but true.....I came home from my volunteer shift at the de Young Museum, made a salad and pasta and dipped some crusty bread in olive oil! (And only then, went on-line to read blogs.....)
    How wonderful to see you and your sister participate in this age-old ritual.... I was thrilled to "join in"....

    What a journey this is for you!
    I am estatic with joy...because I feel your happiness!!!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

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  9. What a fascinating tale you present, Amanda, in pictures and words. The work, and the reward of the harvest.

    My imagination tries to stretch back to the time before machinery to press the olives. There were true presses back then. I've seen some in my travels in Israel.

    It isn't honey, but it looks great. Well done, on the harvest and the story.

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  10. What a truly good post! I do really like this kind of pictures and articles. Have a great new week ahead Amanda. Hugs.

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  11. What a fantastic, redolent experience. Thanks for sharing the beauty with us!

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  12. I am living large right now ~ through YOU!!!!

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  13. Oh how wonderful. You are taking us on such an interesting tour around Europe. I am enjoying every minute of it.

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  14. Just wanted you to know that I featured your photo essay on my Twitter feed at: http://www.twitter.com/livingingreece

    so you will be getting a number of interested visitors.

    Wonderful storytelling.

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  15. Delightful! We have about 40 olive trees in Halkidiki, and we plan to be there next October to see it done. Wonderful photos! Good story, too.

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  16. What an experience! And the bread in the warm oil? Heaven! That first photo with the sea in the background was gorgeous.

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  17. Oh, what incredible photographs! I can taste the olives, and the bread and olive oil, which I absolutely love to eat!!

    I love your blog. It's different. I haven't been over for weeks. I've been trying to finish books revisions, and I also had to start a new blog necessitated by a glitch in Blogger. When you do this, you can import the old blog but you lose your followers!! So I am signing in as a "new" follower because I don't want to lose you.

    Again, this is a most stunning post. I love it when bloggers post photographs--of their trips, of their families, of their pets.
    Ann

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  18. I eat bead dipped in olive oil almost everyday, but I bet not once has it tasted as good as it did for you on that day!

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  19. Amanda- such a wonderful post. I've documented parts of our harvests over the years, but never been able to get to the press myself because my husband always takes the olives after 10pm...because it's not busy then! But, I do wait for the warm oil to arrive home with great anticipation and a fresh loaf of bread. Loved this. Bravo! :)

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  20. O.M.G.

    I am... wow... totally envious!

    I bet that was the best olive oil you've ever had. I was glad you got a taste of it.

    How do olives taste fresh from the tree? Are they edible?

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  21. You are really doing the most amazing things, Amanda! I bet not many girls from your home town have participated in such adventures?! My mouth is watering, must go and eat something!

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  22. Which very good article !
    I can smell the aroma from here ! Congratulations, I loved it ! :)

    Bye**

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  23. rosaria - i've never tasted anything like that -- what we get out of bottles doesn't compare.......i felt very lucky to have been able to participate~

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    dd - glad you enjoyed...!

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    sister -- mille grazie back at ya! enjoying the continuing odyssey together of following the greek olive.......

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    genie - it was a lucky break indeed! so glad you enjoyed following along.....!

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  24. lorenzo - how fortunate for you to have access to fresh olive oil - if i did i would eat it for breakfast as well!

    p.s. the greek word for olive press is: ελαιοτριβείο

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    mim - it was like liquid sunlight.......!

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    lori - this trip has been one for the books.......i didn't plan a thing for greece and we just happened upon all of this! next time i travel i think i'll 'not plan' again!

    xx

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    robin - oh, your lunch sounds like just the thing i like to eat! there are few things better to eat than bread dipped in olive oil.........yum. now i'm hungry again!

    xx

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  25. r-bear - yes, i was just asking tonight if those old oil presses are still in use in greece, and sadly, they are not - everything is now mechanized, but like in israel, you can still see antique ones that used to be powered by donkeys!

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    phivos - thanks so much! have a good week too -- yeia hara!

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    willow - that's such a great word to describe the oil - redolent~

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    helen - if i could only offer taste and smell-o-vision with the oil it would be even better!

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  26. loree - you must have a big olive oil harvest as well in malta??

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    kat - thanks so much for featuring my blogpost on your twitter feed, and also for visiting travels with persephone!

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    iosifina - how lucky for you to have all those olive trees - enjoy your harvest when the time comes and thanks for visiting!

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    julie - i agree with you - it was heavenly to taste that warm oil, and next to the beach made it about perfect!

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  27. ann- so nice to see you! thanks for dropping by ~ i am sorry to hear you've had such troubles with your blog -- i will now drop by and sign on once again as a follower♡

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    sara louise - so is le petit village above or below the famous olive oil/butter line?

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    cheryl - how lucky for you to have your own olives! that's interesting that your husband takes the olives at night -- what a smart move - he probably doesn't have to wait in line!

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    japra - that's a good question -- i haven't eaten an olive off the tree, but we are heading out to see more of the harvest tomorrow so i will test drive one in the field and see!

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  28. geli dear -- i don't know if many home town girls have done this, but i'm sure glad i've had a chance - this has been such an amazing and educational experience...

    do you eat greek olive oil -- or do you prefer to cook with other types of oil?

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    mahon - so glad you could 'smell' the oil;-)

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  29. how utterly fascinating - i am so glad you made the harvest - thanks for bringing us in with you x that picnic must have been wonderful. i didnt know the black and green olives would be mixed in the oil prep? thanks for making olive oil real again :)

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  30. Wow! Thank you for sharing this - love the pictures and getting a chance to see how it is made. And then that gorgeous picnic by the side of the road... I bet it tasted beautiful!

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  31. What a great post. I've seen bits of this process but never the whole thing as you've presented it here. Fantastic.
    Sydney - City and Suburbs

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  32. A lovely post. Isn't the smell divine?
    I am about to rake my tree, ready for Christmas. They are only tiny, but it is a young tree.

    It really takes me back to nature when the olive and grape harvest comes in, here in Cyprus.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures.

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  33. Did you see yesterday`s news on Dubrovnik? All the streets were flooded! Terrible rains! I hope they will all flow away soon.

    Yeees, I do use some olive oil, but not really that much. Maybe we don`t get the good one here, but to me it tastes so oily. Sunflower oil meets my needs as well. But then, I do not care for garlic, either. I am probably just too trained on potatoes and onions and apples?

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  34. I have an eternal weakness for olives. I eat them every day with anything. I never get tired of them. It is beautiful to see people harvesting them.

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  35. I envy you - I wanted to be there too :(

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  36. Can't get any fresher than that*!*

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  37. So this is how it really looks before it ends up in our markets:)

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  38. val - hey girl thanks for dropping by!! yeah - that mix of olives, i just loved seeing all the colors......

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    jayne - it was most certainly a picnic i will long remember♡

    nice to see you and thanks for dropping by!!

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    j bar - so glad you liked it -- thanks so much for visiting!!

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    oh glynis, lucky you to have your own olives!! enjoy harvesting them and reveling in the end product!!

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  39. geli - i didn't see the report on the rains, must check on that now...

    hey, sunflower oil is lovely as well! each has their own unique taste, so whatever you like best!! --- but how can you not like garlic!! ;-) (you might have trouble eating in greece as they use lots of it!! hehe!!)

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    yoli - you must then be a true olive epicure!

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    bhavana - it was such a unique experience -- i feel really fortunate that i was able to participate in this~

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  40. annie - it would be hard to get much fresher! ;-)

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    ola - yes - i got a real all-olive behind the scenes peek on this trip!

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Thank you for visiting♡