We grow two varieties of olive in our grove in the Coal River Valley; Picual and Manzanillo. Both are Spanish varieties (which is why if you “Adopt An Olive Tree”, your tree will have a Spanish name!) They’re both happy in our cool climate, and they help to pollinate each other. Traditionally Picual is an oil variety, and Manzanillo is a table olive, but you can eat the Picuals, and press the Manzanillos.The Picual olives are smaller than the Manzanillos, and the two are slightly different shapes, with the Manzanillo being rounder – they look a bit like plump cherries when they turn black. (For more on green and black olives, read this previous post.) Manzanillos tend to have a higher moisture content too, which makes them harder to press into oil for technical reasons that I need to find out more about!
Can you spot the difference between Picual and Manzanillo from the photos below?
In the longer term, we’re planning to make table olives as part of our range of products, but at the moment we’re still getting on top of the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) side of things. I’m going to pick some of our Manzanillos to do a few preserving experiments with, but there’ll be lots left on the trees. So, we’ve decided to offer “Pick Your Own Olives” days at our olive grove in Campania. Dates will be announced towards the end of May, when we have a better idea of when they’ll be ripe, but it’s likely to be in early June this year. This time of year is always exciting in Tasmania, because the Dark Mofo winter festival is on around then, so there’s tons going on.
I’ll be writing more on how to cure olives in some following posts, but the basic principle is that the bitterness needs to be removed. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried biting into an olive straight off the tree, but it’s not a pleasant experience! This can be done using water-curing, brine-curing, or lye-curing (=caustic soda – yuk! Which is how most commercially available olives are produced because it’s very quick.)
If you’d like to be first in line to find out when our “Pick Your Own Olives” days are on, then watch this space, or sign up to my mailing list and I’ll send you an invite so you don’t miss out!
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