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We have nearly 200 olive trees in essential 3 sections. The olives normally become ripe enough to pick around the end of October or beginning of November, depending very much on the weather during the previous 9 months. Olive picking is a real family affair with many “Italians” that have resettles around the world, often coming home for this very family Italian  get together.

Our farm is very small compared with many and so it is not really economic to market the olive oil, be it of a very high quality compared with the average one can buy in a supermarket. Normally I get some friends from Rotary to come out for a few days to help pick the olives, after pressing I drive back to England with the oil and we sell it locally to friends etc. the proceeds going to one of Rotaries charities.

Olive trees are surprisingly robust and old trees transplant well. I took one back to England for my son and had to cut 4 inch roots - and it still grew! Whilst they like to be sited in a sunny spot with freely draining soil, mature trees are surprisingly cold tolerant. They also have a very long life - it is believed that the oldest olive tree in the world is growing in Western Crete in the village of Pano Vouves, this incredible tree is thought to be 3000 to 5000 year old and the perimeter of the trunk is 12m! A branch from this tree was used in the opening ceremony at the Olympics!

Stages of Ripening

After olive trees have flowered the fruit starts to develop. Initially the olives are green and hard. Gradually as they ripen they change colour to yellow-green and then to reddish purple and finally to black. These changes in appearance are matched by chemical changes within the fruit itself.

Unripe olives have high levels of chlorophyll which gives them their green colour. During the ripening process the levels of chlorophyll fall and increasing amounts of carotenoid (the pigment which produces the darkening of the fruit) develop.

Oil yield is low when the fruit are unripe and increases as the fruit matures. The oil initially very bitter also sweetens at this stage. In addition the ripening will be influenced by the aspect of the trees in the grove - those in more sheltered areas and olives at the top of the tree reaching maturity first. It is possible however for the fruit to get too ripe. Most producers believe that once the crop is starting to fall off the tree the peak time for harvest is gone and the resultant oil is of poorer quantity.

Despite this though there is no ideal stage at which to harvest the olives. When deciding to create an oil the producer has to balance factors as shelf life (greatest in less ripe fruits), yield and flavour.

The Traditional Method of picking olives

A lot of people believe one harvests the olives by shaking the tree trunk with the fruit falling into nets carefully placed around the tree. It is true some very  large farms do this but most have machines driven  by 12v or pneumatic hand machine that “rake or comb”” the trees,wpca78f9cd_0f.jpg the olives falling onto nets surrounding the trees. Shortly after picking the olives (raking would be a more accurate description - we use small plastic rakes but might invest in some pneumatic machines next year

The traditional method of olive picking involves combing the ripe fruit from the tree into nets, or hand picking into baskets tied around the waist. Ladders are used to climb up into the trees to reach the fruit from the higher branches although most can be reached from the ground.

We spread the olives out to ensure they are dry and then either put in sacked or taken open in a trailer to the pressing factory  the Frantoio. Within a few days of picking.

There are many Frantoio‘s around that work 24 hours a day for just 6-8 weeks then are close the rest of the year. The traditional method of pressing is the olives (plus a whole load of leaves, small twigs, even grit and dirt get shaken and the “debris” removed.

You will also find oil described as ‘first press’ and ‘cold pressed’ – the first press yields the most flavoursome oil and pressing the oil without heat results in a smaller amount, but of higher quality. We are very fortunate that we do not need to spray the trees with any insecticide, and all our olive oil is completely organic and of a very high quality. Much of the olive oil available from supermarkets is “fake” (where have I heard that word before!!) where other cheaper oils are added

Our olive oil is of a very high standard, it is completely “organic” and first pressing extra virgin It is available to purchase at £12/75cl , £6/33cl + plus post and packing if needed. We only have approaching 200 trees so our yearly production is only about 130 litres.

Pictures on this page

1 part of our trees

2 one of the oldest trees still alive

3 collection of olives - usually more leaves!

4 modern frantoio

5 Traditional frantoio “pulper”

6 frantoio

7 our bottles


Our Olive Oil at The River House

See olive tree shaker - I wish we had one!!!

Olive tree shaker.mp4

Our Olive Oil bottle lable

?? Are you interested in having an Olive Picking “Holiday” ??