2014 has been a year of firsts - so on this first day of 2015, I would like to write about the best experience we had in 2014. Of course every time we got to travel to Matarranya was very special, coming "home" to the view of the Els Sports mountains was amazing time and time again, finding all kinds of different vegetation & animal traces on our finca was more than interesting and we had a lot of fun with the almond harvest... but the best thing was the olive harvest. It was our first time, and we learned so much from it!
First of all, our olives are Empeltre olives. They can be used both for eating and pressing olive oil; most people around here leave them on the trees until they're nicely ripe and black. Most presses in the neighbourhood belong to a "cooperativa" - members can go and sell their olives there, or bring them in exchange for the oil, or sometimes a combination of both. Each cooperativa have a date for bringing the olives in and sets a price for them; this year we could bring them starting December 9th, which was just after a long weekend here in Spain.
Axel set to work with 2 friends. On the first morning, they went to buy nets and sticks from the cooperativa in Cretas, and borrowed big crates to put the olives in. To collect the olives, you have to hit the branches / the olives with the sticks, so they fall on the ground into the nets; afterwards you gather all the olives into the crates (while leaving out the bigger branches). We have about 45 trees on our land, which took the 3 men one and a half days of work to harvest. At the end of the second day, they went with all the crates to Manolito, who manages the Cooperativa in the village of Lledo - the next day, we were able to go and pick up 4 big barrels of olive oil (about 100 liters).
Here are some pictures of the olive oil pressing. I posted some of them on the Mas del Encanto Facebook page some time ago.
The taste of our olive oil is excellent; it is cold pressed virgin oil, and since we don't spray our trees (and neither do most of the people who bring their olives to Manolito), it's probably the healthiest olive oil I've ever had. You can really taste the olives, and it's excellent with my home made tomato bread!