Cultivated olives have been around for many centuries and they are essential condiments in our appetizers and meals. We have noticed its health benefits and olive oil is known to provide healthy fats.
Olive farming started in the Mediterranean and the industry has spread to many parts of the world. The plant thrives in warmer climate with specific soil type and proper drainage. The temperature shouldn’t dip to a freezing point or soar to a scorching hot. Cold weather may cause farmers to replace all their olive trees due to damages. There are dozens of olive plants varieties that can produce different types of oil. Olive trees spread to different parts of the world, whey they are brought by Spanish explorers and traders.
It is important to hand pick olives and manually prune the trees. Olive trees could become larger very rapidly and these trees shouldn’t grow out of control. In trees with plenty of leaves and branches, much of the nutrients will be used for growth, instead of for producing fruits. For this reason, it is important to keep olive trees constantly pruned.
A closer look will reveal more interesting facts. As an example, blooms will create a cluster of olives, but only one or two are strong enough to grow to full-sized fruits. They will change in color and skin texture.
When farmers harvest the olives, they need to handpick the fruits. Farmers usually start from the bottom and use ladders to pick olives as high as they can. Olives are gathered in the tarps below the tree to make it easy to collect these oil-producing fruits. Trees should begin producing decent amount of crop after five years old. In a good year, each tree can produce up to 200 pounds of usable olives.
However, they have alternate bearing years, it means we could get maximum amount of olives in one year and just a fraction of the amount in the following year. We won’t know whether a tree can produce large amount of olives in specific years or not. To produce more olives, farmers typically depend on pruning and other methods.
Raw olives won’t impress anyone who tastes them for the first time. The alkaloid inside olives, make them inedible and very bitter. Ancient people soak olives in brine to remove the alkaloid. Olives are pressed with specific equipments and can be bottled after being filtered and stored temporarily.
Freshly pressed olive oil contains some capsaicin and it will cause burning sensation in our mouth. It takes about two months for the hot flavour to subside.After being bottled olive oil should be placed in cool areas without direct sun exposure.
However, before being bottled, experts in the plantation perform the tasting tests. Like with wine, we can experience different sensation through this activity. We could start by noticing different characteristics of olive oil. We start by looking a halo on top of the oil. The halo should be clear without any color. On olive oil that has been exposed to oxygen for specific duration of time, they may not taste very good and the halo is no longer clear.
We can sniff the olive oil before tasting it. It should have grassy and clean aroma. In fact, it shouldn’t smell like regular cooking oil. Then, we should start by tasting the olive oil. With good olive oil, we should experience a peppery and clean herbaceous flavour, as well as some amount of heat that slowly goes down into our throat. Fresh olive oil shouldn’t be oily and should feel exceedingly fresh.