Thursday, December 01, 2005

Olive Me, Why Not Take Olive Me

_DSC0029_1 This is the time of year for the olive harvest. Actually, it's a little on the late side. But yesterday there were still olives on the tree across the street (on a public stretch, and judging by all the suicidal olives that had plunged to their deaths on the sidewalk, largely neglected).
The olives were in varying stages of ripeness. One side of the tree, the side that faces East, was almost bare of fruit, but the Western side of the tree was still hanging heavy with green, purple and black olives.
They are really tiny olives, about the size of Picholines. I know they can't be the more common Manzanillas, which are pretty big, but I simply don't know what type these are.
It's a good thing we took the ladder and bucket across the street yesterday, because it's gusting so hard outside right now, the rain is shooting sideways. Those olives were ready to be picked yesterday, to the point that they were literally jumping into our hands (and onto my head). Today they've probably all blown off.
We got a nice mixture of green and ripe olives, maybe about two pounds total. And we met a couple of nice strangers while we worked; a guy in a wheelchair who says he'd never seen an olive tree before (and he's from Wisconsin, so I believe him) and a jogging woman who also didn't know what kind of tree it was, but thought we were "cute" for harvesting from it.
I've seen olive oil produced a couple of times, and I can tell you I won't be trying that, not without a press and all the technology involved. So, yeah, I'm just going to try curing them.
Two different cures: Lye for the greenies, and mere salt for the blackies.
Am I out of my mind?
I love foraging.


b'gina said...

I've always wanted to do that. I'm in Sonoma, and olive trees are getting to be the landscape tree of choice. I should have gone to town and heisted a bunch before the storm hit. Ah, well, it's been one of those weeks (fortnights, really - does anyone say "fortnight" anymore?).

I don't know if they still do it, but maybe 8 years ago, there was a place in Glen Ellen, a community olive press, where people could bring in their small crops and have them pressed. Now that is a cool idea.

ilva said...

Did you take that pic?! It's AMAZING!! bravissima!

amateur said...

I've never seen an olive tree either. I can't imagine what it'd look like. (from the Midwest)

cookiecrumb said...

b'gina: Yes! The Olive Press in Glen Ellen was one of the oil pressings I witnessed. And yes, it was about 9 years ago, but I imagine it's still functioning. (The other two pressings I observed were at McEvoy in Petaluma, and Frantoio in Mill Valley). These dinky little olives I picked (the green ones) are probably already finished with the lye bath, after only 14 hours.
Ilva: Groan. I tried so hard. I must have shot dozens. But I don't have a tripod (yet -- right, Santa?) so it's a bit out of focus. Thanks so much.
amateur: Well, they have long, narrow, grayish leaves. This was a young tree, not too tall or gnarly, but they can get very old and thick-trunked. Look .

sam's mum said...

My husband would love to be able to pick his own olives. A work colleague of mine retired to Greece and bought place off the beaten track with an olive grove. Each year she and her husband join the locals helping to harvest each others crop. Sounds hard work to me but I gather its worth the effort for the party at the end.

cookiecrumb said...

Hi, Sam's Mum. Party at the end? Darn, I wish I'd thought of that. We really did have loads of fun collecting our olives, and if I had given it any thought, I could have invited friends to join us.
My father loves collecting olives too. He just whacks the olive trees on the golf course with his golf club, and they fall off the branches. Not too difficult!

Sam said...

is that really my mum?

a) she doesnt comment on my blog anymore.
b) she doesnt return my emails.
c) I have never heard her describe dad as "my husband"
d) She never told me about the friend with a pad in Greece.
e) I never imagined her dreaming of the partying.

Hi mum - I love you!

cookiecrumb said...

Well, Sam, feel free to communicate with your mum and her husband through me! :D
(I think my mom's mad at me for calling their residence an "old folks home." If she comments on your blog, I'll take that as an olive branch, so to speak.)

lisaSD said...

Have you ever done this before--the curing?

If you like foraging, you'll like the idea behind this web site...users reporting on fruit/food trees on public or abandoned property that have ripeness waiting to be picked. I think it's pretty much SoCal, but maybe there's something similar in NorCal:

cookiecrumb said...

Lisa: That's very cool. I'm not aware of something like it here in the Bay Area, but it probably exists and I'll start looking into it.

cookiecrumb's mom said...

Cookie, I agree with ilva-lucullian, that's a fabulous picture; it makes me want to paint a watercolor of it.

cookiecrumb said...

OK, Mom, just click on the photo for a bigger image. It will take you to the flickr page, where you can poke around for the largest one. Print 'n' paint!
(Everybody: My mom's a superbly fantastic watercolorist. I'll post some of her paintings soon.)