Recently, here in Israel we were blessed with the first rains of the winter.

You know what that means, right?

It’s Olive Picking Season!

Over the past two weeks, I spent five mornings picking olives and pressing olive oil in a picturesque ancient olive grove on a hillside right outside my hometown of Beit Shemesh.

(Photo credit to Rivky Weiss, a Bloomah’s reader who accompanied me picking one morning. Apparently Rivky is a far better photographer than me. I’ll stick to farming.)

It was pretty strenuous work, whacking those olive trees with long smooth sticks and separating the fruits from the branches. After four mornings I had a blister, a deep splinter and a stiff shoulder.

I loved every minute!

My daughter came along and helped every day and some friends and Bloomah’s fans joined me some mornings.

We must have picked at least 150kg of olives, and it takes approximately 6kg of olives to make a liter of olive oil. However I was sharing the harvest with the farmer who maintains the grove and has the equipment and 4WD.

On a different morning, we went along to the olive press in Latrun to see the fruits being pressed into oil. The olive press is a deafening apparatus roughly the size of a semi-trailer which cleans, crushes and then spins the olive mash in a centrifuge. At the end of the line, the yellow-green olive oil emerges from a spigot into the waiting jerry-can of the hard-working olive picker.

I took some fabulous videos of this process. However, I have since lost the memory card of my camera, so I’m afraid you’ll have to use your imagination.

I took some great pics when we did it last year too. But I can’t find those either. Maybe this is a sign that Rivky should take over as chief Bloomah’s photographer?

What do you say Rivky?

I’ll stick to farming.

The Rewards of our Labors

So after many hours of hard labor, I was rewarded with about 11 liters of fresh, cold-pressed olive oil.

Also some olives for pickling.

Our fresh olive oil + olives in the process of curing. I took this photo yesterday. See what I mean about my photography skills?

And so much relaxation. As someone who works in front of a computer all day, I find outdoor manual labor so liberating.

I love olive picking! I can’t wait for next year!

Want to Try Your Hand at Olive Picking and Processing?

(Without dedicating five mornings of hard physical labor?)

Join me for a Morning at the Farm workshop this week!

In honor of Chanukah, we’ll be focusing on harvesting and making with olives and olive oil!

This Wednesday, December 2, 10AM-11:30AM

Women only. Live at Bloomah’s City Farm in Ramat Beit Shemesh A.

Click here for more details

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