Harvesting Olives, A Guide on When and How to Pick Them – Permaculture

The olive tree, Olea europaea, is a subtropical evergreen tree from the Oleaceae household that’s native to the Mediterranean, Africa and China. They develop greatest in areas with a Mediterranean local weather, which is characterised by an extended, scorching, dry summer season rising season and a comparatively cool delicate, moist winter.

A lot of the world’s olives are grown within the Mediterranean area, the place they’ve been cultivated for 1000’s of years. There may be proof of olives had been being grown and used for oil manufacturing on the Greek island of Crete as early as 3500 BC, and olive oil is a typical ingredient in Mediterranean delicacies, having its origins in historical Greek and Roman delicacies.

Each olives and olive oil are recognized for his or her numerous culinary makes use of and well being advantages, and as such are used for meals, cooking, medicines, salves, and cleaning soap manufacturing. Olive oil was additionally used historically as a lamp gasoline for lighting.

Olive Dietary Worth

Nutritionally, olives and olive oil are good sources of wholesome monounsaturated fats, primarily oleic acid. Of all of the edible oils, olive oil has the best share of monounsaturated fats, with over 70% in content material.

In addition they comprise different compounds with antioxidants properties that supply protecting well being advantages, equivalent to carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments, vitamin E (within the type of alpha-tocopherol), and phenolic compounds (equivalent to hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleocanthal, and oleuropein), in addition to a sub-category of phenolic compounds often called flavonoids (which embody the compounds apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, and rutin).

Olive Tree Pollination and Fruiting

Olive timber range in dimension, relying on the range, ranging in peak from 3-12 metres (10-40′) or extra. They bloom in late spring, producing free clusters of small, whitish flowers, and there are two forms of flowers produced.

The primary are botanically know as ‘good flowers’, as they comprise each female and male components, and are able to growing into the olive fruits.

The second sort of flowers are male flowers, which comprise solely the pollen-producing components for pollination, and don’t turn into olives.

The flowers of olives are wind-pollinated, and so they could set fruit inconsistently at instances. In areas the place olive timber don’t obtain correct irrigation and fertiliser, they have an inclination to biennial cropping, the place they produce a heavy crop one 12 months and set little or no fruit within the following 12 months.

The pollinated flowers turn into olive fruit, that are classed botanically as a drupe, in any other case often called a stone fruit, just like peaches, plums, cherries and different fruit which have a stone or pit of their centre. Inside the stone of an olive are one or two seeds.

The olive fruit will attain their best weight 6-8 months after the blossoms seem and may have most oil content material or 20–30% of recent weight (measured with the pit eliminated). At this stage they may turn out to be black in color and stay connected to the tree for a number of weeks.

Olives might be picked at numerous levels although, from once they’re inexperienced in color all the way in which till they’re black, relying on how we want to protect them for consuming. Understanding when and find out how to decide olives is essential to make sure the very best quality and flavour.

On this article, we’ll discover the elements influencing the timing of olive choosing and the methods to reap them effectively.

When to Decide Olives

As olives ripen, they alter from inexperienced to yellow-green, straw, rose, red-brown, and eventually darkish crimson to purplish black. They are often harvested in any respect of those levels, however their ideally suited choosing time will depend on the number of olive and the way we intend to make use of them.

Olives change color as they ripen with 1st & 2nd pictured being green-ripe, the third yellow-green to straw, the 4th & fifth rose to red-brown and sixth red-brown in color. They darken even additional to turn out to be naturally black ripe olives, which might be darkish crimson to purplish black in color. (Supply: College of California, Division of Agriculture and Pure Assets, modified and enhanced by deep Inexperienced Permaculture)

Olives should be ready for consuming as a result of they comprise bitter compounds and different substances that make them unpalatable and inedible to be eaten recent. Varied preparation processes, equivalent to curing or brining are used to make olives secure and pleasing to eat.

Tp put together inexperienced olives, they should be harvested earlier than they absolutely ripen, whereas black olives are picked when absolutely mature. Listed here are some normal tips on choosing inexperienced and bvlack olives:

Harvesting Inexperienced Olives

Inexperienced olives are able to be gathered once they have reached their full dimension, however earlier than they flip absolutely black. The colour must be principally inexperienced with a slight blush. The flesh must be agency, and mature green-ripe olives will launch a creamy white juice when squeezed.

Olives which might be yellow-green in color with a slight blush can nonetheless be harvested to be ready utilizing inexperienced olive preparation strategies

When harvesting olives to be used with inexperienced olive preparation strategies, they’re primarily harvested commercially when they’re an excellent color from yellow inexperienced to a straw color. The olives can nonetheless be used as they ripen additional, altering from yellow-green to rose to red-brown, because the flesh remains to be agency at these levels of ripening and lacks darkish pigment, or is partially pigmented near the pores and skin.

Harvesting Black Olives

Black olives are picked once they have been allowed to ripen absolutely on the tree and have turned absolutely darkish crimson to purple or black about 3-4 months after the green-ripe stage, relying on the range.

They need to be plump, shiny, and barely tender to the contact. Ripe olives bruise simply and should be dealt with with care. Mature darkish olives will launch a reddish-black liquid when squeezed, and their flesh might be almost utterly pigmented.

Black olives which have naturally ripened on the tree might be plump, shiny, and barely tender to the contact

The oil content material of olives will increase as they ripen, and black ripe olives are subsequently primarily used for oil extraction, in addition to for making ready black olives for consuming.

If the flesh of black olives is pigmented throughout to the stone, they’re thought of overripe, that means that they are going to be lots softer when processed, however that me be most well-liked when making dried olives.

What Time of The 12 months Are Olives Harvested?

Olives are sometimes harvested in late summer season by to the early autumn months, usually across the months of March to Could within the southern hemisphere and September to November within the northern hemisphere.

The precise timing of the olive harvest can range relying on local weather, and olive selection.

Olives ripen extra rapidly in hotter climates, so the harvest instances could range relying on the placement.

Moreover, olive timber might be categorised as early, mid and late season varieties on account of their ripening instances. Some could mature earlier within the season, whereas others could take longer.

Early season varieties – mature earlier within the season and could also be prepared for harvesting as early as late summer season.

Mid-season varieties – mature round mid-autumn, that is the time when many olive varieties are sometimes harvested.

Late season varieties: – mature round late autumn.

The timing of the harvest is essential as a result of it impacts the flavour and high quality of the olives, and the way they can be utilized. Inexperienced olives are normally harvested earlier than they absolutely ripen, whereas black olives are picked when absolutely mature, so it’s essential to watch the ripeness of the fruit to find out the perfect time for harvesting

Decide Olives from Timber

As soon as we all know when to choose olives, we have to perceive the correct strategies for harvesting olives from the timber to keep away from damaging them, as we should always solely choose freshly harvested, unbruised olives for processing.

To assemble olives, we’d like the next instruments:

Gloves to guard our arms from the bitter compounds current in unripe olives.

Assortment containers equivalent to baskets or buckets to gather the harvested olives in.

Secateurs (pruning shears) to softly take away olives from the tree with out inflicting injury, or, as another choice.

Plastic olive hand rake to softly dislodge olives from the tree with out inflicting injury, and an olive harvesting internet (piece of shadecloth or a plastic tarp sheet to catch falling olives).

Two strategies for harvesting olives are hand-harvesting and utilizing particular hand rakes.

1. Hand Harvesting Olives

When timber are small in dimension and never too tall, hand harvesting is a handy methodology for gathering olives.

For inexperienced olives, use secateurs to chop the olive clusters from the branches to keep away from bruising or damaging the fruit.

For black olives, decide by hand, gently greedy and twisting the fruit to launch it from the stem. Watch out to not injury the tree or the bruise the opposite olives.

2. Harvesting Olives Utilizing Hand Rakes

Hand rakes, also called olive combs, are small plastic rakes designed for olive harvesting, and are useful for accumulating olives from bigger olive timber. Some have hole handles that may be connected to an extension pole to achieve into tall olive timber.

A plastic olive rake that may be connected to an extended pole to increase its attain for taller timber

To make use of an olive rake, beginning close to the trunk of the tree, run the rake gently alongside the branches in direction of the department suggestions dislodge the olives with out harming the tree. The rake will pluck the olives from the branches, inflicting them to fall to the bottom.

Olive rake and olive harvesting internet (Supply:

To catch the olives falling to the bottom when utilizing a plastic rake, an olive harvesting internet is positioned beneath the tree. Many industrial olive harvesting nets are merely manufactured from shadecloth, so it’s potential to make use of a big sheet of shadecloth or a clear plastic tarp sheet for the aim.

By the way, it’s not viable to simply look ahead to olives to drop on their very own onto a harvesting internet fastened beneath a tree, as the method will take means too lengthy, and the olives will find yourself changing into overripe for many makes use of.

Helpful Ideas:

When gathering olives, don’t put an excessive amount of right into a single assortment container, as this could squash the fruit on the backside, which may result in bruising and spoilage.

Olives might be pruned after harvesting, they fruit on one-year-old wooden, so reducing new progress again by half will scale back the cover dimension and promote new branching to extend fruiting whereas leaving sufficient fruiting wooden for subsequent the 12 months.

Sorting and Storing Harvested Olives

After harvesting, type the olives based mostly on ripeness and high quality. It’s greatest to course of recent olives inside a number of days after harvesting them to keep up freshness. Inexperienced olives usually retailer higher than black ripe olives.

To take care of the very best quality, retailer them in well-ventilated containers equivalent to shallow, ventilated crates at temperatures between 5-10°C (41-50°F). Extended storage of 6 weeks or extra at 10°C (50°F) may cause pitting and recognizing on the floor of the olive.

Keep away from hermetic containers to stop mould progress. Additionally, keep away from storing recent olives at colder temperatures from 0-2°C (32-36°F) for two weeks or extra, as this could trigger chill damage that may lead browning of the pores and skin and flesh of the olives.

Foraging for Olives in Public Areas

Olive timber are generally seen rising in public areas, and unharvested timber find yourself dropping all their fruit to the bottom beneath to create a little bit of a multitude, which is a large waste of a superb useful resource. Established timber can produce very giant crops of olives, which might be harvested, and processed to protect them to be used all year long. By understanding when olive tree crops are produced, we are able to observe the crops ripening week by week to pick the optimum harvest time.

I’ll add an article quickly on find out how to course of olives! Pleased olive choosing!


College of California, Division of Agriculture and Pure Assets, PUBLICATION 8267, Olives: Protected Strategies for House Pickling. <>

Olive harvesting and preserving. (2023, March 15). Natural Gardener Journal Australia. <>

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2023, September 8). Olive | Description, Manufacturing, & Oil. Encyclopedia Britannica. <>

Olea europaea (Widespread olive, European Olive, Woman’s Oil, Candy Oil Plant) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. (n.d.). <>

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