Fall's Olive-Picking Ritual

Olive picking is taking place at the moment in Provence, and for certain aficionados it's a special time to share with friends in the great outdoors.
By Caroline Taret

Olive picking is all about timing… The weather must be right for the harvest to be enjoyable, the olives must be ripe, and it's important to take your time and share the experience with family or friends. Katia and her family own an olive grove in Haute Provence and have an unchanging ritual each harvest of olive picking with friends. "It's a time just for us, your friends come and pitch in, but it's above all a practical activity to do together that quickly yields results!" Katia adds that the choice of weekend is crucial, since she enjoys her oil ripe and fruity, so harvesting too early is out of the question.

"The secret of a good harvest is strong arms, good humor, and picking the right moment to comb!" Yes, because traditionally olives are harvested with a comb, part of the manual picker’s kit… The team places nets on the ground and then begins to brush the branches to make the fruits fall, and then everything is put in a sifting basket to separate the leaves from the olives. These are then crushed immediately, since to obtain good oil the olives must be fresh. Next Katia and her family head to the Luberon olive press in Volx where Olivier Chertier welcomes them to press their oil. Last year, their harvest amounted to 900 kg for 200 liters of precious nectar, "this year we picked 550 kg, which will be enough for our friends and family to use.” Because Provence locals have the joy of using their own olive oil , it's hard to get any more local! But Katia adds that the most enjoyable thing is time shared with loved ones, "we find ourselves around a barbecue in the middle of our olive grove, it's magic. Our land overlooks the village of Volx and we have a view of the region of Durance which unfolds below" Katia and six friends end the weekend tired by the work at hand, but full of joyous moments… and waiting for the 2012 vintage!

Olive-picking ritual
Olive-picking ritual
Provence
Photography José Nicolas
The olive-picking ritual
The olive-picking ritual
Provence
Photography José Nicolas

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