Olive Harvest 2015

We were anxiously anticipating our olive harvest this year since last year due to the invasion of the olive fly we ended up with no oil. Trying to plan the best time to pick can get tricky. You should press your olives as soon as possible after they have been picked, and we like to pick when about half our olives have turned black.

We also try and plan our harvest to take place when the weather is agreeable because picking in the rain just isn’t fun. Since the forecast for the week was calling for rain mid-week through the weekend and we leave Umbria on Monday, we chose Monday and Tuesday as our harvest days.

We were up early Monday, had a hearty breakfast and dressed warmly before heading out to start picking at first light. We had our handyman Gino, and his friend Michael helping us and we decided to pick the trees on the slopes first just in case rain moved in earlier than planned.

Picking olives on trees on the slopes can be challenging, particularly if the ground is wet. We were moving right along with everyone working well together when at hour three, I slipped down the slope, and fell over the rocks and fell hard on the gravel drive. I put my left arm out to stop my fall, and within a minute or two I knew I had fractured it. So…..instead of spending the day picking olives, my husband and I headed off to our local hospital for X-rays.

After seeing the shape my wrist was in, the emergency room doctor sent us off to the larger hospital in Perugia who have a large orthopedic department. I was told I had a bad break and would require surgery but that It could wait a week until I was back in the states. The doctor performed a manual reduction to realign the bones (OUCH) before he put the cast on my arm and sent us on our way.

We ended up spending much of the first day of our harvest in hospitals instead of picking olives, and I ended up on the couch with my casted arm stuck in the air on pillows. It wasn’t until a couple of hours after my fall that I even realized I had hurt my ribs as well, and that injury has in fact proved to be more painful than my broken wrist!

So, instead of completing our harvest over two days, it has taken a couple of extra half days working around the rain to get all of our one hundred trees picked and the olives pressed. We ended up with a total of twenty-two cases of olives that turned into about eighty liters of gorgeous green extra virgin olive oil.

Though not as great a yield as some earlier years, after having no harvest last year we were very grateful to have as many healthy olives as we did this year. Because I am stuck on the couch, I wasn’t able to take the olives to the mill as usual, so I sent my camera with my husband so that he could take a few photos for me.

Just an hour after we brought our new oil home, we grilled some bread and liberally poured the oil on top with a sprinkling of sea salt. The oil this year is delicious with a peppery bite that is so distinctive of freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil.


The Dreaded Slopes Set Up With Nets.


And The Harvest Begins!


First Case Picked.


My Husband Raking The Olives Off The Tree.


Olives At The Mill Ready For Pressing.


We Have Four Different Varieties Of Olive Trees.


The Olives Start The Process By Being Washed.


So Satisfying To See Your Own Olives Turned Into Oil!


Bright Green & Peppery Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


The Best Way To Taste New Oil Is On Hot Toasted Bread With A Pinch Of Sea Salt.


This Will Be One Olive Harvest I will Not Forget!

Deborah Mele
October 2015


  1. This certainly will go down in history as your most eventful olive picking!
    We hope surgery proves unnecessary, Deborah and we hope your ribs heal fast too.
    See you next year!
    G & M xxx

  2. Oh my, not a way to end your season in Italy – wishing you a speedy recovery with no surgery! Your olive harvest is pure liquid gold – enjoy the bounty as you recoup and thanks for sharing your time in Italy this year as well as the delicious recipes – always makes me want to head to the nearest airport — ciao, ciao

  3. So sorry about your spill…I, too, took a tumble two weeks ago…on a garden tour!..and my bruised ribs are finally allowing me to function. So, be patient though not fun on a flight.
    Love following your blog and great photos.
    As I sit in Redding, CA, at 4:30 am, it has started a heavy rain, thunder and lightning…a welcome relief, no matter the amount…to a four year drought! But, of course, today is our rose show! Oh, well…
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery

  4. From the looks of your pictures, you took quite a fall down the slope, over the barrier, and to the driveway below!! Sending prayers for a speedy recovery your way. Hope you are fully recovered for the holidays. I always enjoy your posts…….best of luck!

  5. Debra – so sorry to hear about your fall, surgery and Luca. Things can only get better. I just read your blog to Dave. We are both sending wishes of speedy recovery. Say hello to Louie!

  6. We are just finishing our olive picking in Puglia, fortunately we haven’t had any injuries!! Hopefully will pick around 500kg which we are hoping will result in 30 litres or so of oil. From what we have tasted so far the quality is fantastic. First year we have done it and wow what a manual workout…. good fun though

    Love reading your recipes and it gave me some great tips when the apricot, aubergine, corvette, pepper, tomato gluts came in. Keep it up.

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