Tuesday, 1 December 2009

It's olive harvest time

Thanks to a long, sunny and warm November, the olive harvest went really well, here in Sabina. Thousands of cases of this precious fruit were filled and immediately pressed, to produce one of the best (if not the best) olive oil in Italy. Sabina olive oil is protected by Europe as a traditional, high quality product of Italy, hence the 'DOP' label, which literally means 'Of Protected Origin'.
Here is Sabina olive farmers, very often small family producers, don't wait until the olives fall to the ground. That would be too late. They run especially constructed rakes along the branches when the olives are half green and half black, in the ripening process. This way, the intact olives will fall onto previously positioned nets on the ground, then sorted from the leaves that might have fallen as well, then immediately taken to the olive mill for pressing. This produces the healthiest olive oil, full of flavour, peppery but never ever 'greasy' or 'oily': in other words, true Sabina Extra Virgin olive oil at its best.

This is the time when we purchase at least 35 litres of freshly pressed olive oil for the year, for our own use. New olive oil is very peppery and strong, perfect for bruschetta. It mellows down in about 6 weeks of storing in a dark, cool place when it reaches absolute perfection.
To celebrate the end of olive oil harvest, as every year a festival is organised along the streets of Farfa, a nearby 7th Century monastic village. This is when olive farmers from the area gather to present their 'green gold' (oro verde), ready to be tasted on a slice of toasted fresh bread. It is an opportunity to get to know local cheese and wine makers and purchase their wonderful products. Of course, it is also great fun, with plenty of music, street performances, food and wine.

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