Friday, June 7, 2013

Olio di Oliva

Howdy from Palermo!

The rows of olive trees.
A little baby olive.

Today is June 6th and today also happens to be the day we set off for our adventure to the local organic olive oil farm. When we arrived we were welcomed with not just hundreds, but thousands of olive trees. The rows seemed to have never ended.  We got off, stretched our legs and began our tour with the founder's daughter.  She was the quintessential Italian lady. I don't think I saw her put her hands down once while she was speaking, and she was SO sweet! She walked us out to the rows of olive trees and began her lecture.  Founded in 1936 by her grandfather, this farm was a trailblazer for its time. In the 80s her father started a revolution by growing olive trees instead of a vineyard.  

The daughter, her father, and our translator.
Currently, their plot is 19 acres and yields about 5,000 trees of 3 different varieties. She continued to tell us about the harvesting processes and what they do differently to be considered an organic farm.  Very animated, she began to tell us how critical it is to harvest right when the olives are turning from green to black.  It is critical because of the high anthocyanidins at that stage, the anthocyanidins give the oil a very wonderful spicy flavor. Now, I'm sure you're wondering, "How do they stay organic?" Well I have the answer for you. She explained to us the importance her father felt to maintain an organic farm. So she walked away for a few minutes to snatch up their form of pesticides.  She lifted up a large water bottle of some green, opaque solution. This solution consists of water, and sardines; that's it.  They tie theses bottles to the trees and leave them until they need to be replaced about 3-5 months later. As opposed to the weekly spraying of pesticides on non-organic farms. Everything she told us was just amazing.  After we ended our tour, we were greeted with the friendly farm donkey. At first he greeted us with a loud, "Heehaw, heehaw." But he warmed up to us eventually. We were able to sample their delicious product along with a few appetizers, and I don't think I've ever tasted oil that wonderful in my lifetime! Our trip to the olive farm was definitely educational, and I enjoyed every second of it.

-Jenna Rios

The farm donkey.

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