Are the olives picked in the same way as 100 years ago?
Nowadays diverse techniques are used to pick the olives. The most recognized and commonly used methods today are the trunk shaker and the pneumatic comb. The trunk shaker is a mechanical method of picking done by clamping an extensible head from a tractor to the trunk or scaffolds branches.
This then generates high frequency, low intensity vibrations, simplifying the picking as the vibrations cause the olives to fall into an umbrella shaped collecting device that is beneath the head, and is a part of the machine.
Another commonly used method is that of the pneumatic comb. This technique is an electronic gadget which looks like a regular harvest pole that has a vibrating comb on the end. This comb is made up of various carbon fibre rods capable of making a jolting movement of up to 1,000 times a minute, which make the olives fall.
Over time the techniques have been perfected and new methods have appeared, which have simplified, speeded up and improved olive picking.
But how were olives picked in the past?
More than four generations of our family have been cultivating and picking olives, which we can trace back to the beginning of the last century. At that time olive trees were sacred, and the process was carried out very carefully in order not to damage the olive trees at all.
The picking technique par excellence was the milking method. It consisted of picking by hand, using a small, hand rake or even just ones own hands, using milking type movements up and down the olive branches, so that the fruit fell onto the cloth on the ground.
This method didn’t harm the tree at all, however it was a very slow process that required several weeks or even months to pick all the crop.
In those times, people used to go to live in the olive groves – in small, very basic houses called “Masadas” – during the picking season.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to live far from the villages and surrounded by nature for so many days?
Handmade ladders were used to reach the olives at the tops of the trees. Before starting the milking method to pick the olives, large cloths were laid on the ground around the trees, in order to collect the olives that fell. The cloths covered the ground from the base of the tree trunk and covering a wide area all around, making it easy to collect the olives.
The final step was the strainer, or sieve; a tool made of wood with a mesh – similar to that in the image – which helped to separate the olives from the leaves and small branches.
Despite the picking methods changing over time, there is one thing that still remains exactly the same. The enthusiasm, dedication and love with which we work day by day in order to position our exclusive Empeltre variety amongst the best olive oils in the world, without losing sight of our roots at any time.