Olive picking in Catalonia

Posted on Nov 19, 2014

Olive picking in Catalonia

Olive oil is a product that is evocative of the good life and of luxury, despite Jamie Oliver drizzling it with wild abandon.  A top quality extra virgin olive oil can be very expensive but having taken part in my first olive harvest this November I now realise why!

Family friends Andrew and Sally Scarth were looking for a holiday getaway in Spain that didn’t require too much work or hassle.  What they found in 2008 was Finca Pere, near Tortosa, 2 hours away from Barcelona, Catalonia.  There was barely a house on this remote plot of hilly arid land but there were plenty of olive trees.  The Scarths have since built a lovely family home and now harvest olives every November with the help of willing volunteers like Ed and I and extended family.  It has become something of a passion, seeing them produce top quality extra virgin olive oil from Morut, Sevillenca and Farga olives.  Extra Virgin Olive oil is defined as having an acidity level lower than 0.8% and Andrew and Sally’s oil consistently scores below 0.5%.

We worked hard for 3 full days, getting outside at 8:30 am to make the most of the dry, clear and sunny weather to harvest the olives.  The process is kept simple by the Scarths who hand pick the olives with the help of small rakes, nets and buckets.  Once the trailer (and the boot of the car) are full of olives they are driven down to the local mill where they are cleaned and then pressed to extract the oil.  It was an amazing feeling to see the fruits of our labour in the form of a bright green clear extra virgin olive oil that we couldn’t wait to dunk our chunks of bread into.

So next time you are tutting at the price of an artisan olive oil, remember us weather worn olive pickers who hand selected the finest Spanish olives for you to drizzle liberally!