Our Olive Harvest 2012

As our season here in Umbria comes to an end, the one activity we look forward to is our olive harvest. Harvesting and pressing your very own olives and turning it into extra virgin olive oil is extremely rewarding, and the nectar we are gifted is unbelievably delicious. If you can, visit an Italian specialty store, olive oil store, or even look online and buy even a small bottle of this year’s olive oil to try.

This year’s olive harvest has just begun, and will continue through the winter months, so it may not be available outside of Italy for a few weeks. Fresh pressed olive oil is unlike any other olive oil you will taste so I believe it is worth the investment when it is finally available. The perfect way to enjoy this freshly harvested oil is to heavily drizzle it on warm grilled slices of crusty Italian bread, and then sprinkle coarse sea salt on top just before serving. Amazing!

This year we picked our olives a little earlier than we usually do, and we expected our harvest to be smaller than previous years as it was an unusually hot and dry spring. We ended up picking 16 cases of olives over two days (we had 19 last year), which was just under 900 pounds in total weight.

From the 900 pounds of olives we brought to the mill, we ended up with 65 liters of liquid gold (or green) to bring home. This fall has also been unusually warm, so we had glorious weather for our harvest with midday temperatures 75 degrees F. and above. Though the mornings started off chilly, foggy and damp, by mid morning the sun came out and burned off the fog and we had two lovely days for picking olives.

Olive oil is a extremely valuable ingredient to any Mediterranean kitchen with multiple health benefits despite being high in calories. Organic olive oil is also filled with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that may protect you against illnesses. Studies have shown that organic olive oil can help protect you from heart disease, promote healthy digestion, reduce stomach conditions such as ulcers and gastritis, reduce inflammation, lower gallstone formation, and balance the fats in your body actually helping to control obesity.

Certainly I should be remarkably healthy indeed considering all the olive oil I use in my kitchen each day! It is reported that even two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day will help regulate your cholesterol levels and improve antioxidant blood levels.


Join Us For Our 2012 Olive Harvest @ Il Casale di Mele!


Our First Tree Picked Early Morning Day 1 – Cool, Damp & Foggy Start!

Luckily The Sun Soon Came Out And We Worked Quickly Through The Trees Raking Off The Olives

The Crates Are Filling Quickly

Me Raking The Olives End Of Day One

Our Olive Harvest Supervisor On Kitty Patrol

Even The Chickens, Henrietta, Rosie, Penelope & Lucy Were Interested In The Harvest

Every Shade From Grenn To Black

The Final Tree On Day Two With Louie & Our Friend Gino

Two Days Of Picking, 16 Cases Of Olives Ready To Be Packed Into Our Car

This Year We Chose A Local, Family Run Mill

Dumping Into Containers To Be Weighed & Washed

Washed & Heading Into The Press To Be Turned Into OLive Oil

Mashing The Olives & Extracting The Pits

Inside The Frantoia (Olive Mill)

First Taste Of Our Own Oil This Year Right From The Press!

As Soon As We Returned Home With Our 65 Liters Of Oil We Grilled Bread To Try It

Deborah Mele
October 2012


  1. Hello,
    I loved your blog post so much that it inspired this note/request.

    I live in Rome and will be having some friends from the U.S. visit Nov. 12-Nov. 17th. They have asked me if I know of any places in Umbria that we could go and harvest olives for a day. I came across your blog post on Twitter and thought I would write you as you said you would be harvesting through the winter. If that is the case, would it be possible to spent a day at your farm to harvest olives. If you aren’t going to harvest that late, perhaps you know someone that might be. Thanks so much for your consideration. Best, Beth

    1. Beth, I’m afraid our harvest is finished this year but many others will be harvesting later. I honestly do not have any contacts for you, but I’m sure with some searches on Google for Umbrian olive mills or frantoia you should be able to come up with something.

  2. Interesting article. I did get grossed out when I saw a man’s finger IN the oil processed for bottling. How unsanitary!!

  3. The highlight of my day today. How beautiful! How wonderful! How blessed! Love the pictures! How I would hate to leave.

  4. Oh, Deborah. There you go again…. making my mouth water. Now, now…. don’t be stingy…. I’d bet if you put a small bottle of that lovely nectar up for bid here at IFF, you’d get quite a response. I, for one, would certainly be bidding on it. BUT, I can also understand if you’d want to keep it all for your own pantry. I know I would…. ;P

  5. I loved reading this post! My mother was born in Sicily and growing up we would spend the summers there with my grandparents, uncles, cousins and many friends. My grandfather had an orchard and had many olive trees, from which they would harvest olives every Fall, bring them to the frantoio and come home with barrels of bright green olive oil. We would enjoy their Sicilian olive oil all year long.
    My grandparents have since passed away and the orchard sold to another family. However, I still remember the times I spent as a young boy, running and playing among the fruit and olive trees with my brothers and cousins.
    Someday, perhaps I’ll have my own olive orchard and my children will be running and playing there, just like I did in Sicily. I look forward to harvesting my own olives and returning home with barrels of beautiful, delicious olive oil. Just like you did, I’ll immediately grill some bread and drizzle the oil on top!!

  6. My father-in-law owns about 12 trees and he produces enough oil to last the whole extended family for a year! I’m really hoping to go picking with him this year. I’ve never seen the pressing process and would love to see that also. He never told me that you are not supposed to eat the olives from those kind of trees, and I decided to try one once and it was horrible! How was I supposed to know that those aren’t the same olives you eat? Anyways, Puglia makes up over 50% of olive oil production in Italy.

  7. We are three very fortunate couples presently enjoying Umbria and Casa Di Mele. Thank you Deborah and Louie for providing us with not only a beautiful home but all the many treats that keep coming our way. The wine tasting and what we all said was a “dinner” was extraordinary. We hope to see some of the olive harvesting tomorrow as it is promising to be another beautiful and sunny day. With much appreciation The Mazzarellis’, The Mitchell’s and The Carlson’s

  8. Hi Deborah, I worked at my first ever olive harvest in Puglia in 2012. I reminisced over your photos as your farm like the one I worked was organic using nets and combing the olives from the trees. The farm I worked had 200 trees and the harvest took 7 weeks from picking the first olives from a baby tree to using a “shaker” to get the olives from the very top of the older trees. It was the hardest physical job I had ever done. But the end of each day was exhausting but just so rewarding. That was 7 years ago. I was 57. I don’t think I could do it again today.
    I love your site and have just begun reading through it. I will now find my blog that I wrote daily during this 6 month trip to Italy. Thank you for you writings and recipes.

    Karen Dodd

  9. I am an archaeologist and would like to request your permission to publish your photo at the top of this page of a man picking olivesfrom a tree in an article that I am writing. Many thanks in advance.

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