Tag Archives: november

From Olive Harvesting to Olive Oil



Excuse me for shouting, but the occasion warranted it. It took us a month and by the end of it I was dreaming of olive picking ๐Ÿ™‚

So what happened?

On our quinta we have 67 olive trees and only about 50 of them were ready to harvest.

First of all, peeps, if you are newbies like us, don’t make the same mistake! Learn when your local olive press opens before starting the harvest.

In our excitement we started too early on the 1st of November. After week of staying in the crates the olives started rotting and we asked around if any presses were operating.ย  The answer was – not until the 18th of November. So we had to put our first 5 crates in water to preserve them somehow.

So first question you ask: when the press is open?

Second question is just as important. What is the minimal load for the press to do your olives individually? You see, they are all very different.

The press in our village (Proenรงa-a-Velha) is supposed to be the best in the area and does a cold press for extra virgin olive oil. It doesn’t have minimum requirement for the load but maximum you can bring them is 500 kg per week.

When they press your olives they take 15% of the oil as a payment (if you are a resident, 20%ย  for non-residents) and provide you with 5 litre plastic bottles of your oil in return.

The press our friends use in Monsanto is a hot press for virgin oil, and you generally expect a return of 1 litre oil per 10kg of olives. The minimum load they take for individual pressing? 400kg.

You see you need to know these pesky details beforehand.

So after a shaky start we returned to olive picking on November 11thย  and continued for about 10 days picking olives and pruning trees at the same time.

We heard that you shouldn’t prune trees before the first frost, but we did it anyway because everyone will tell you something different, and you can only pick and choose one thing and learn on your own mistakes, right?

Our trees have been abandoned for few years so they were really over grown, and we pruned them pretty harshly.

Also if you do olive picking don’t start until the temperature drops significantly at night. Your olives will not rot waiting in their crates then. From first five crates we collected in the beginning of the month we lost one. So next year we won’t start the harvest until 3rd week of November.

The tools we had?

Two ladders, a 6×6 m net (next year I’m going for 10×10 – much better) and two saws. I recommend gloves as well.

First batch of olives gave us 24 crates which we barely fitted into the car.

A crate cost us around 3.75 euro, and we also bought a net for about 15 euro.

The press weighed our olives at 378kg and a week later we received 40 litres of beautiful olive oil in return.

lovely stone building, and our crates are in.

Sr. Antonio running to local junta where he also works from 9 till 11am as a representative of local government. He is a little bit late! ๐Ÿ™‚

Our second batch we finished this morning at 21 crates or 318kg and we expect to get more olive oil in a week’s time.

We hope to get just under 70 litres in total from our 696 kg which will serve as yearly supply and let us give a few bottles of oil to our friends and family for Christmas.

The oil is slightly spicy and zingy because of the mix of green and black olives but very tasty.

I’m already trying to use it to make a perfume…

inside are kumquat flowers, wild peppermint, lavender and sandalwood essential oil

This is it for tonight, fire away with questions and suggestions.

Over and out.


What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 3


Alright, last push!

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, and I’m not even mentioning our busy social calendar during these 8 weeks *grinning* but the last project which we finished couple of days ago was a chicken coop!

We’ve built it from bricks and cement, put a wooden support for the roof on top (made of eucalyptus branches and broken up pallets) and then tiled it with what we’ve had already.

I had to look it up online to see how to tile it all together ๐Ÿ™‚

Then we’ve covered the walls outside with the white cement and waterproofed the roof.


Ideally we should have had some lyme coating instead of cement, but we didn’t have the time as we are getting the chickens on Monday. The nesting is done inside from tiles, bricks and hay.


Then we built the door out of broken pallets and fenced up the yard for the chickens. The gate is recycled from the dog kennel.

We will see how it all works out. None of us had chickens before, but both me and Alex vaguely remember how we used to feed chickens and collect eggs when we were kids. I’m also reading this book to help.

Last thing I did was building a scarecrow for the orchard. Took me 10 minutes after we collected our hay and much giggling!

Meet Oscar!

This is it for today. I might post tomorrow to show some cool pics from our quinta.

Lots of love,


What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 2


…back again!

The tarp we bought during the week of rain was hastily set up with what we had on the land, so when we had time we got back to it and created a proper wooden structure. Again, we’ve tried to use what was available on the land. hence the piping for the support ๐Ÿ™‚

After 5 days of non-stop rain, the area under the tarp turned into a swamp, so we had to drain it and dig some trenches around.

took us 3 days to drain all the water


just one layer of gravel

trenches all around for rain run offs

the small solar panel is for the caravan 12v lights by the way

I think it came out rather nice!

The dog kennel has been torn down, and the floor in the kitchen leveled and gravelled. Alex and Shaun have started raising the outside wall. We’ve also ordered some concrete poles for the roof, which we’ll use to build the structure that we will tile later.

I haven’t got the pic for the whole floor, but it’s all done now.

I have been salting the olives using Wendy’s suggestion although Portuguese do it in a completely different way leaving olives in fresh water every day for a month, and then adding salt to them. I have three different batches.

I’ve done big green olives, small black ones, and really big black ones. We’ll see in few months!

We’ve made a lovely fire pit (courtesy of Shaun) for our bogracs (Hungarian cooking pot), which we have been using very frequently for slow cooking and grilling.

I’ve also collected the rock pears from our pear tree and made a delicious French Countryside Pear Jam using this recipe.

chopping with gazillions of flies around.


cooking and sterilizing the jars at the same time

You can buy these in Chinese shops in few different sizes. It’s much cheaper than Portuguese supermarkets. Off course I’m collecting all the jars of food I buy anyway for future use.

Just three jars from 5 hours of work, but the jam is delicious!

My first attempt to create a quince jam wasn’t very successful as I used too little sugar and too much lemon. It’s sour but it’s still nice to eat with sweet biscuits and it smells lovely.

harvesting quinces


I’ve had 5 jars out of 2 kg of quinces (maybe?). Will wait till the end of the month to make more. Quinces weren’t quite ripe, and it’s really hard to cut them right now.

As to the olive harvest we kind of messed it upright away.

We started in the beginning of November and collected about 90kg from 5-6 trees…

But you can only keep harvested olives up to a week so we looked for the olive press when they started going off on us. Well… Apparently olive press here doesn’t open until the 18th of November, so we had to follow Portuguese advice and leave what we could salvage from our olives in water until then. I think I lost half a crate to the rot.

Anyway, we are harvesting again next week onwards and we still have at least 30 trees to do. Oh boy!

For those of you interested, we were told that the press in our village which is one of the best in the area will take 13kg of olives and return 1 litre of extra virgin olive oil back. They will take their cut in oil as a payment.

We’ll know more after we’ve had our oil.

we are pruning the trees as we go as well. They are very overgrown.


picking olives is a very relaxing, meditative job. I’m loving it!

To be continued in part 3…


What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 1


So sorry, peeps! We’ve been busy and couldn’t write an update here fast enough.

Last time I promised to tell you what we’ve been doing on our land.ย  So here it is:

First 2-3 weeks we definitely dedicated to clearing everything from the brambles. They grow really fast and have vicious thorns, but they have two saving graces: they give you berries and they burn really well.

Here are pics BEFORE the clearing ๐Ÿ™‚


dog kennel inside


and the stacks of tiles covered

water tank


first quarry

back of the shed and kitchen

second quarry


in the middle of meadow

the well

There was another wall that we’ve cleared out, but I can’t find any BEFORE pics. I don’t think I’ve taken them!


slowly clearing out the walls and stacks of tiles

levelling the floor


opening up the terrace on the top of the kitchen. The trees had to be cleared off of brambles and vines

water tank is cleared


meet our friend, Shaun, whose first task on arrival was kitchen floor. He’ll be staying with us for awhile

Alex starting on the outside wall for the future bathroom


another terrace discovered under all the brambles and vines!

back of the kitchen and shed completely cleared. Discovered possible water mines or wild boar dens. Who knows?


Side of the shed is cleared. Solar panels temporarily go up, and we are powered! We also start collecting rubbish left on the land – plastic, chemicals, rusty metal, shards of glass, etc. Temporary structure for the tarpaulin goes up.

bye, bye, brambles in the meadow…


second quarry is cleared

Here is what we’ve been doing since Shaun joined us in the second week of October until now, 16th of November…

the dry stone wall is getting raised for the composting toilet

it’s getting there…


voila! the toilet is done.


sensor solar light inside for night use

Right, it’s getting to be a long post, guys, so I’m splitting it in two.

To be continued in a min!