Harvesting the green gold of Calabria, Italy
There is something unique in Calabria: its hills are covered by olive trees. Olive trees each two years are harvested and from its fruits you get a very healthy product: virgin olive oil.
Olive oil has had a long tradition dating back to well before the arrival of the first Greek settlers in the south (in the eighth century BC), to whom the introduction of olive-growing in Italy is attributed. Today olive cultivation is more or less extensively present throughout this region, from its coastal areas to the hills and the foothills of the inner land. An area of approximately 200,000 hectares, of which 170,000 hectares are dedicated to specialized production, is covered with olive plantations in Calabria.
Roughly 10 million tonnes of olives are produced, which are subsequently transformed into 140,000 tonnes of olive oil (99% of the area planted with olive trees is destined for the production of olive oil, and the small residual rest to the production of table olives).
I had the opportunity to help harvesting olives and it was an amazing experience. First of all picking the olives is a very meditative task, probably because in the landside everything is so quiet. But also watching how the olive oil comes out from the pipes of the machine of the olive-press after a very hard working day is a magic experience, because you can observe live how your work turns into a tasty and healthy product.
There are at least 33 kind of olive heritage in terms of biodiversity, structural and productive dimensions. Carolea is the oldest and most representative regional variety. It is cultivated in all five provinces of Calabria, yet is most diffused in Catanzaro. The oils of this variety are characterized by a medium olfaction of fruity green olives and slight traces of fresh grass and fruit, especially apple, sensations of grass/leaf and artichoke, with reference to tomatoes and fresh almonds. A bitter note dominates the taste, together with more dulled spicy and sweet flavours, of bitter almond and walnut.
Sonia Simpatico - JUMP Team