Olives to Oil: The Movie

Today was the close of the Festival dell’Olio di Colletta di Castelbianco. We began with a final sweep of the parking lot olive trees, and a few of those up in the hills above the church. Then at 1:00 p.m. we gathered at Frantoio da Olive Armando Garello up the road in Nasino, across the street from Ristorante Costa where we ate last night.

It was at Garello’s mill where the olives would be magically turned into olive oil. But first, we ate. The production room was temporarily converted into a dining hall: long tables were set out, and a variety of foods were laid out on paper plates (what exactly the foods were I cannot tell you, but they were all very tasty, albeit more deep-fried than fresh). There was plenty of wine, cake and coffee for dessert, more wine, and then, after two hours, the tables were cleared away and the milling began.

Rather than trying to describe the process by which olives became olive oil, I made a movie:


Paul R. Pival's picture
Paul R. Pival on December 3, 2006 - 03:42 Permalink

So it looks like the pits are included in that process? What was the yield for all your work? Is there a certain type of olive that goes to oil, and another for my mouth? What’s the difference between virgin, extra virgin, etc? Didja get to keep a bottle or two? Love the travelogue — my wife and are are getting really jealous! :)

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on December 3, 2006 - 10:04 Permalink

Yes, Paul, it’s pits and all that are ground up. Not really a problem as all the “sludge” is filtered out of the final product. It says here that:

Some producers make a niche oil using olives which have had the pit removed, claiming that the pit contains bitter or undesirable flavor components. These oils have not been shown to be superior to conventionally produced oils in international taste competitions.

Word on the street was that we harvested perhaps 25% of the trees in Colletta, and I believe that garnered 250 bottles of oil, 25 cl in size. The bottles were sold for 6 EUR each last night and I bought three (“Any profit will be spent on pruning and improving the Colletta trees”). Now all I have to do is figure out how to back little bottles of oil in my carry-on luggage!

I can’t help you on the “variety of olive” question but to say that there were several heated debates about which type of olive was growing on a particular tree as we were picking. On interesting olive fact is that you need to prune olive trees regularly or they won’t produce; the first year after pruning the new growth doesn’t produce, the second year it do, but any new growth that’s produced an olive once won’t produce it again.

If you travel in the off season, you can get here, and stay here, very inexpensively all things considered. So don’t be jealous, come visit for yourself!

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on December 3, 2006 - 17:23 Permalink

First, you have shown that the right music and editing techniques can make any video compelling. I think I might have shed a single tear.

Second, I think you might be staying at some kind of labour camp.

Alan's picture
Alan on December 3, 2006 - 20:25 Permalink

Indeed. If it were no for all the booze, I might have thought he was better off when he was all alone in the village…alone in the village.

It does look, though, like a wicked setting for Counter-Strike. A couple of well placed flashbangs would have sped up that olive harvest, too.