Follow The Olive: Harvesting Table Olives

Table olives should be picked individually by hand and it is recommended that only olives of the required size and colour are picked. Selective harvesting reduces the work-load on the sorters and results in less fruit being rejected.

If small unripe fruit are left on the trees longer to size up they could be picked later as table olives which realise higher prices. The oil mills are often not yet open early in the season and therefore selective picking of large sized olives is essential.

Green table olives are picked when the fruit has attained full size and changed colour from deep green or grey-green to a lighter green or straw yellow, with a very small percentage of the olives showing a trace of dark pink. Natural black processed olives, which obtain higher prices, must be completely black, but not overripe as they will be too soft for processing.

Fresh olives especially green fruit, appear to be very hard, but all olives are extremely delicate and bruise easily. A wise precaution against damage to the skin of the fruit is to ensure that pickers keep their finger-nails short.

Harvested fruit must be kept cool and in the shade as all times. Green olives are especially sensitive to sunburn damage once harvested. Olives should be transported to the pack-shed as soon as possible to be size-graded and any stalks, leaves, malformed, bruised, infested and overripe fruit should be removed.

Olives can be cool stored for a limited time at around 10’C. It is not recommended to store black olives for longer than 24 hours.

– Olive Production in South Africa by Carlo Costa

SA Olive introduces “FOLLOW THE OLIVE”

An in-depth look at the journey our beloved olives take from as early as being planted to the end of their life-cycle… being tasted and enjoyed! We look forward to sharing snippets of fun and fascinating information with you over the course of the year.

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