Olive the olives are ready to go…are we?

Arbequina olives at the TK Rancho, November, 2015

Our Arbequina olives

by cheri sabraw

The olive tree has been growing on  earth for 6000-7000 years. It is believed to have first sprouted in  Persia and  Mesopotamia (the Fertile Crescent),  soon finding firm and fertile ground in what is today’s modern Syria and Israel. In the 18th century, Spanish missionaries brought olive trees to California where the plants thrived in the rich and rugged California dirt and  temperate  climate.

Maurino olives

Our Maurino olives

The olive and its oil have been the subjects of ancient Persian, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek, Christian, and Roman rituals. Even King Tut enjoyed olive oil! We know this because olive branches were found in his tomb.

The olive branch has long stood for peace, hope, and reconciliation. It was an olive leaf that the dove carried over sand and surf  in her beak, dropping it into Noah’s hand, signaling the end of the Flood.

At the TK Rancho, we have no doves and definitely no flood but we do boast a flock of 100 wild turkeys, a yellow Labrador retriever, a patient man, and a semi-patient woman.

Thus, we approach our first olive harvest with anticipation.

After engaging in an all-out war with the olive fruit fly during the past four years and losing, we sprayed Danitol three times this summer. It did the trick. We are one week away from harvest.

Leccino olives

Our Leccino olives

Thirty people–from our grandchildren to our  friends and family–will converge to pick the arbequina, maurino, leccino, and frantoio olives from the security of their silvery grey-green branches.

Three Italian varietals  and a Spanish one will roll around with each other for the first time in an intimate blend before traveling up the driveway to meet their own fate at the press.

Solomon himself will be pressing his olives.

With luck,  the elixir of life will begin to drip into the fusti jars and shortly thereafter, we all will sample the oil with wine, bread, and pasta.

L’ Chaim! To Life!

Frantoio olives

Our Frantoio olives





About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Growing Olives and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Olive the olives are ready to go…are we?

  1. cpartner@comcast.net says:

    Lovely … Excited Sent from XFINITY Connect Mobile App

  2. Brighid says:

    We had olive trees at the other house, and had to be fast at harvesting or the deer got them.

    This is exciting, can hardly wait to see how it turns out. What do your labels look like? Are you going for virgin or extra virgin?

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Brighid,
      Will post pictures of the event next Saturday. Did a test press this weekend. Very funny. A big mess all over our garage. So glad we did a virgin run…We are pressing extra virgin. The labels are pretty funny…and politically very incorrect…You will get a big laugh. Thanks for the support and enthusiasm.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I can’t believe it took me two days to “get” the humor in your title. Well done! Just last Saturday, a friend and I were breakfasting in a cafe owned by a Greek couple. I suddenly took a better look at the plant next to the television, and realized it was a small olive tree — with olives! Some were green, and some appeared ripe. I was going to ask if that’s where they get the olives for their Greek salad, but I forgot. next time.

    Here’s to a successful harvest. What fun that would be — not to mention sampling the oil.

  4. wkkortas says:

    L’Chaim, seconded enthusiastically.

    • Cheri says:

      Well, the test press yesterday produced pinkish olive sludge which, when sandwiched in these “pizza” shaped disks, oozes out like pink oily Spam into the turn table. When I post pictures, you will see what I mean. This small olive sludge explosion all over the floor of our garage has given us new respect for those olive farmers who take their olives to be professionally pressed. (she said to her husband…)

  5. Richard says:

    The fruit of all your hard work and perseverence certainly looks mouth-wateringly healthy. Do the different varieties have different characteristics?

    • Cheri says:

      Yes. They do! Arbequinas produce a mild buttery oil and frantoios produce a peppery tart oil. The leccinos and maurinos are in between. However, all of the leaves and pits that end up in the hopper before the olives are sliced up and smashed into olive sludge must contribute to the taste.
      It is an experience only to be captured in photos.

  6. Cheri says:

    We need more villagers by next Saturday. Are you and Glenys able to get here by then? We have 58 trees and only 22 adults coming. We do have 6 children. Villagers wear buckets with harnesses around their necks. But before all of that (picking, harnessing, fretting) commences, we have technical problems now. Although Hizzoner has 5-day arbitration this week and has no time, the garage looks like an olive sludge explosion, the disks with the olive paste need power-washing, and we (he) are humbled by what task lies ahead. We had NO IDEA what a job this will be. As I write this note, HZ is up in his garage trying to figure out why the olive oil has not risen to the surface of the sludge.

    Let us know if you will be on hand; we will put you up in a nice room.

  7. ShimonZ says:

    Sounds very good. There’s not a day that I don’t eat olives or olive oil. Love that fruit.

  8. Cheri says:

    We bought a press from Italy. Tried to get one from Israel but the shipping time was too long and the place where we looked had a small press. I can’t wait for you to see the pictures when I finally post of the harvest and the pressing of about 1/3 of our orchard. It was so labor-intensive (and so messy) and we were so exhausted, we are taking the other third of the orchard to be pressed in Modesto, Ca on Monday morning. Now we are trying to get our friends/family to come “back” and help pick the rest of the olives on Sunday.

    Here’s to olive oil!

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