In Italy there are many festivals in November to celebrate the olive harvest, when family and friends gather to harvest the plump green and purple fruit by hand.
It was a cold but sunny morning three years ago, when we started our own family tradition: picking the fruit of our young trees by hand to make “green gold”—the buttery, peppery, and delicious olive oil.
This year, the harvest came earlier than expected, with the olive oil extracted at a local press in Hopland on November 4th. The harvest amount varies each year—the trees are growing and produce a little more each year. Weather conditions and other factors can also determine total pounds that are produced.
We have five different varieties at the farm, including Frantaio, Leccino, Maurino, Pendolino and Ascalano, which make a great blend of extra virgin olive oil. Olives start out green, then turn purple and later black. We always look for a good balance of green and purple olives, to get the flavor profile we are looking. Maybe, one day, we will be marinating our feta with it.
We harvested 35 olive trees that have been in the ground for nearly 5 years as well as another 60 that have been in the ground for 2-3 years. All in all we were able to fill buckets that hold approximately 45 lbs., getting six gallon of oil. The precious bottles are only opened for holiday-themed potlucks or gatherings for family and friends, which lasts us throughout the year.