After a busy day knocking ripe olives off the trees, I joined Vicente following the truck on his way to the olive mill, almazara being its melodious name in Spanish, a name deeply rooted in the times when the lush Mediteranean hills were tended by the Arabs. Though in a modern da almazara nothing is left of vintage millstones and slow motion, everything is efficient and fast, and just an hour after arrival the first canisters are full to the brim with olive oil.
The area is dotted with smallholdings, so while I wait to see our olives on their way to be ground to oil, an incessant stream of small trucks and vans keeps delivering their loads of freshly picked olives. One by one, the smallholders start collecting their oil and gather for some small talk at the gates.
Nothing is left to chance, and a small food lab inside the plant gives the producers detailed information on the quality of their crop.
After a couple of exhausting days, a happy Vicente collects his oil, which freshly pressed looks quite cloudy. After a few days it will have settled and show its shiny golden color. I got myself 15 liters and Vicente has been my supplier ever since: no way I will ever buy any olive oil at the supermarket!
The complete olive harvest series and my work on some other crops of traditional Mediterranean agriculture can be found HERE