Though last year our olive crop yielded 138 kilos of olives and 18 litres of oil, the portents this year in our corner of Abruzzo weren’t particularly encouraging. The air-powered 'hands used to harvest the olives. Broken !

A summer-long drought had resulted in trees dotted with under-sized olives. And though welcome October rains had caused these to swell a little, the gloomy predictions were that the quantity of this year’s harvest would be down; and the quality variable.

Then harvesting our trees became problem-ridden. Within five minutes of starting, the large compressed-air ‘hands’ that strip the olives from the branches and onto nets spread under the trees had broken.

The rest of the morning was a catalogue of frustration as Rocco and I drove off to get a new part; came back and found we couldn’t fit it; which then necessitated yet another hour-long round trip back to find someone who could. Which we did. Eventually.

Our 2011 olive crop !Having started at 8.00, we should’ve been finished and rewarding ourselves with a well-earned beer by about noon. As it was, by noon we’d cleared precisely one tree.

We finished a little after three. “Hmmm,” said Rocco, surveying eight boxes full of our olives, “these look quite good.”
“How much d’you think we’ve got ?” I asked.
“Hmm. 150-160 kilos ?’ he guessed. Ever the optimist.

In fact, our crop weighed-in at 123 kilos. And these yielded 15 litres of oil. So basically, despite all the predictions of doom’n’gloom, pretty much the same as last year.

The oil’s a little lighter this time – a glorious light golden colour. And as for the taste ? Pauline and I dunked crusty local bread into this golden puddle and slurped it greedily.

Organic. Unfiltered. And traditionally-made, crushing the olives between two huge granite wheels. A golden pool of our delicious Abruzzo olive oilIt doesn’t wring the last tiniest drop of oil from each olive as more modern production methods do. But it tastes much, much better.

I know we’re biased, but it really and truly is utterly, utterly delicious.

And it’s undeniably satisfying that this is our very own oil from our very own trees, with the entire production process from tree to olive mill and back again all taking place within less than a mile of our Abruzzo home.

Best of all, as last year, this’ll be the ‘house oil’ we supply to all our villa guests.

Incidentally, if you’d like to see how it’s all done – take a look at the video I shot last year. Nothing’s changed !