Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil

Floral ice cubes

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borage ice cube gin tonic

Borage has appeared from nowhere in our garden this spring. I’ve always known it was edible, but never tried it, and thought I’d make some cute ice cubes for my gin and tonic. (It tastes like … cucumber!)


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It’s a Dog’s Life

We found it a bit difficult to get back into our office based jobs, and I’m not sure the dogs knew what was going on either! Although, to be honest, I think they’re mostly just happy to be with us. They were a bit bewildered by the farm the first few days we were there, they’re used to a more suburban environment than rural Tasmania, and everything was very different from our usual routine. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them doing just dog stuff, but they enjoyed our regular walks around the olive grove, relaxing while we worked, and all the cool smells. Blizzard even ran around a bit, not usual for her at all! Although she did spend a lot of time sitting in the sun, or in her favourite armchair. Gunner, as usual, was more proactive about checking things out, but we did find him hiding out in the comfort of the van when he got the chance, rather than lying on the ground. He proved to be very good at collecting buzzies in his beard while he was looking for fieldmice.  And at the end of the day, they loved sitting out by the fire, hoping that the BBQ gods would drop a few sausages on the floor… FFx


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A nice cup of tea

A nice cup of olive leaf tea

Have you heard of olive leaf tea? We’ve got quite fond of it over the past few months. We’ve been making it by harvesting youngish leaves Continue reading


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Is your olive oil cold pressed?

Snow on the top of Mount Wellington, Tasmania.

Snow on the top of Mount Wellington, Tasmania.

The answer to this question is yes, insofar as almost any extra virgin olive oil is these days! Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is oil extracted from olive fruit using only mechanical means, without the use of solvents or excessive temperatures (less than 30degC, or 86degF). Applying heat increases oil extraction, but causes a reduction in quality with increased acidity and a shorter shelf life. Extra virgin olive oil also has to pass a chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory test by a trained tasting panel. Yes, that’s actual people!

There are three main stages to getting olive oil out of the olive fruit:

  1. Crushing: The whole olive fruit (including the stones) is crushed into a paste, breaking the olive cell membranes and releasing the olive oil.
  2. Malaxing: The paste is mixed or stirred to get the small oil droplets to combine into larger drops (see note at end).
  3. Separation of the oil from the waste material: This is now usually by centrifugation, but traditionally was by spreading the olive paste onto discs and applying pressure either by a long lever or screw (kind of like a giant version of those little toys for pressing flowers), or by a hydraulic mechanism.
Flower press like old olive oil press

Available on ebay…

The terms “cold pressed” or “first cold pressed” really refers to when olive oil was produced using pressure to separate the oil. Nowadays, the term cold extraction might be more technically correct, but cold pressed is so widely used in the everyday language of olive oil, that it’s difficult to change. Continue reading


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How do you harvest olives?

 

Vincent van Gogh; Olive Pickers; Saint-Rémy, December 1889

Vincent van Gogh; Olive Pickers; Saint-Rémy, December 1889

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write posts that answer a few questions that we get asked a lot when we’re telling people about our olive grove. One of the most common ones at the moment is “How do you harvest your olives?” Olive harvesting is traditionally a very labour intensive activity, and remains largely that way in smaller groves like ours, although there are are hand held olive harvesting tools that make it quicker.

 

Campagnola Alice olive harvester

Campagnola Alice olive harvester (http://www.campagnola.it/esp/prodotti/alice.html)

We’ve got one of these tools which has two combs with fingers that move in an elliptical motion. Kind of hard to explain, but have a look at the video below. Continue reading


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How many olives does it take…

Infographic - How much extra virgin olive oil do you get from a Tasmanian picual olive tree?

I wouldn’t say that the initial excitement of our farm purchase has worn off, but the realisation that our harvest time is approaching is starting to hit us with some force. Many groves on mainland Australia are harvesting already, but the cooler climate in Tasmania means harvest starts later so the olives have longer to ripen. Friends and family are asking what our plans are, and explaining what we’ll be doing makes it all seem rather real! Continue reading