It's olive harvest time in Abruzzo!
In Abruzzo almost everybody who owns some olive trees (like our families and friends) is involved in harvesting olives. Many families own a small patch of land with a few trees, so olive-picking is a private business that involves relatives and close friends.
On the abruzzesi hills the olives are ready to be harvested generally from mid-October to the beginning of December, but this is not the case everywhere, because the life of the olive tree is closely linked to the climate of its land: the olive ripens at different times depending on the latitutine and only an expert eye, trained by long years of cultivation, can grasp the exact moment in which it is ready to be harvested from its branch.
A typical day of Olive-picking in Abruzzo
The general olive-picking setup requires some large nets to be spread under the trees, a ladder, some hand rakes, crates and enough manpower. Let's get started!!
Some members of the "team" are ready to get on the ladder to gently comb the tree branches, some others work on the ground and do the same with the lower branches as well as pick up the olives that fall outside the net.
When the sun is about to set, harvested olives are stored indoor and the day after they will be carried to the olive oil mill.
While waiting for the olives to be pressed, week-end farmers’ dilemma will be: what will the yield be this year? – how many liters for "Quintale" (100 kilograms)?
Below you will find a brief description of the most common olive variety in Abruzzo:
GENTILE DI CHIETI (also called Nostrana): variety typical of the province of Chieti, appreciated for its productivity and good rusticity and resistance to cold. Medium-late ripening period, graded, with good oil yield with good organoleptic characteristics, medium fruity. Interesting for the good and constant productivity and quality.
DRITTA (also called Loretana and Moscufese): variety originating from the Vestina area where it finds, especially in the municipalities of Pianella, Moscufo and Loreto Aprutino, the maximum representation; it is currently expanding throughout the region. Ripening period of the olives medium early, good yield in oil with good organoleptic characteristics, fruity.
LECCINO: variety introduced throughout the region and especially in recent plantings. Despite its wide diffusion, it clearly prefers the coastal hilly area and the fertile and deep terrines, showing on the contrary serious limits of adaptability in the internal and cold areas of the region and on heavily clayey soils. Early and contemporary ripening period, average oil yield while the quality of the same is closely linked to the time of milling.
INTOSSO: present in particular in Casoli, Palombaro, Archi and Roccascalegna. Variety with a dual purpose which, despite its modest product characteristics such as table olives, appears interesting for its good results and resistance to cold and the rapidity of fruiting. Early ripening period, medium oil yield but with high organoleptic characteristics, decidedly fruity.
FRANTOIO: variety present throughout the region and in particular in the province of Teramo. It is characterized by an early fruiting and by a high and constant fruiting. Medium-late ripening period, with long-changing fruit, good yield in oil with high quality characteristics, fruity. Cultivar, unfortunately, sensitive to olive mange.
CASTIGLIONESE: variety present mainly in the olive groves of the municipality of Castiglione Messer Raimondo and neighboring municipalities. Tree with characteristic long and pendulous branches in the lower part of the crown. Variety with limited diffusion, with good but unfortunately low oil yield. Average ripening period of the olives, with excellent organoleptic characteristics.
TOCCOLANA: characteristic of the olive growing area of the municipality of Tocco Casauria and Castiglione a Casauria. Interesting variety for its high oil yield (23%) and for its remarkable rusticity. Late ripening of the olives, high yield in medium fruity oil.
NEBBIO: variety found along the coastal hilly strip between Ortona and Vasto, particularly suited to the climatic conditions of the coast. Average ripening period, high oil yield (22%) with medium organoleptic characteristics.
CUCCO sin. Olivoce: variety present in the old olive groves of the coastal hill especially in the municipalities of Francavilla, Montesilvano, Pescara and Bucchianico. For the medium large fruit it is considered substantially dual-purpose due to the possibility of being processed as a black table olive. The sensitivity to the alternation of production and the pre-harvest drop have slowed its diffusion. Early and gradual ripening period, medium oil yield.
GHIANDARO sin. Iannaro, crognalegno: plants of this variety are found mainly in the olive groves of the provinces of Chieti and Pescara. Interesting for the good rusticity and the organoleptic characteristics of the oil produced which is particularly fruity. Medium-late and gradual ripening period. Long iridescent fruit.
TORTIGLIONE exclusive variety of the province of Teramo where it is mainly present in the olive groves of Giulianova, Castellato, Notaresco and Bellante. Plant with a singular habit characterized by a particularly showy twisted trunk which probably determines the name of the variety. Alternating variety and medium yield in oil with small fruit and contemporary ripening. Difficult self-rooting propagation due to excessive seasonality. The oil produced is very rich in polyphenols so as to be particularly bitter. This can be interesting in the improvement of low fruity oils.
5 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil
The health effects of dietary fat are controversial. However, experts agree that olive oil — especially extra virgin — is good for you. Here are 11 health benefits of olive oil that are supported by scientific research.
1. Olive Oil Is Rich in Healthy Monounsaturated Fats
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. This fatty acid is believed to have many beneficial effects and is a healthy choice for cooking.
2. Olive Oil Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants
Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful biological effects.
3. Olive Oil Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Olive oil contains nutrients that fight inflammation. These include oleic acid as well as the antioxidant oleocanthal.
4. Olive Oil May Help Prevent Strokes
Several large studies demonstrate that people who consume olive oil have a much lower risk of stroke, the second biggest killer in developed countries.
5. Olive Oil Is Protective Against Heart Disease
Extra virgin olive oil has numerous benefits for heart health. It lowers blood pressure, protects “bad” LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation and improves the function of blood vessels.