Friday, April 30, 2010

More on Olives.

I thought I'd add some more to the olive story after B's post yesterday. I don't know about the South African rainbow nation, but I'm doing a fine imitation of a rainbow human. The wind was cold, biting and strong when we were picking, looking up, my eyes screwed up so those symbols of peace, the olive branches, didn't whip back and poke me in the eye. And, because I had wanted to do some writing first, it was mid-day. Didn't realise how strong the sun was. My face is the colour of over-ripe tomato today, between the wind and the sun. My fingernails are black. Not all the scrubbing in world will stop me looking like I just hauled my hands out of the innards of an elderly Ford. The scars and cuts (this is me. My hands would not have healing cuts if I were in a coma. I am eternally grateful for anti-tetanus shots.) are purple. As it's not warm enough to consider swimming without a wetsuit a lot of me is a charming shade of dead-fish white. And my forearms are brown (from the hard sunny work of weilding a computer).

Anyway, we ended up with I think 9 kilos of usable olives which had to be either salt-layered (about a half kg of the ripest) or put into wood-ash lye (about 300 grammes of the greenest) and pricked and put to soak for the other 8 kilos or so. To prick olives... you cut a slice of cork and push pins through it to make a little hegdgehog. You then sit on the hedgehog, because that's whole lot more sensible than the alternative that you are supposed to do. Less painful too. However, if you have determined that you really are going to process olives, you then use the hedgehog to pick up olives (which are now in container without water, and thus prick them and drop them into the next bowl with water in it. You need to make sure you have a plate or second bowl which you can can put on top to keep the olives submerged. Otherwise you find them climbing out of the bowl, towelling themselves off and trotting off to the pub (where you can find olives someone has mechanically processed, also at the bar, in a bowl).

If you live in New Zealand (where they also grow olives and have lots of introduced English creatures) you can do this with a real live hedgehog, which will add a whole new dimension, and the RSPCA, to your life. On the whole I think you are probably better off with the pins, but if it's adventure you are after... well as an alternative you could try Barbara's new Olive oil experiment with the rejects... Not only did this involve danger to life and limb, but it was a great shaping up weightloss process. She started on the middle of the kitchen floor with her new patent olive squisher - A five litre cast iron pot and the lid off a three liter one. And her. Standing on it in her nice clean bunditoes and rocking... evil black goo began to squirt and splart out of the sides of the pot-lid onto those little feet... Oh for a movie camera. Her face! At this point I decided to intervene before the entire kitchen got covered in what I already suspected was a very permanent purple black dye. You may have gathered we're possibly not your most usual couple, but I carried my wife over the thresh-hold - out. Like a sack of meal - terribly romatic, with her laughing helplessly, and - when she had breath - begging to be put down. It got really interesting at the door - where I had to bend down so I could open it.

She's a very determined lass, so I got to carry the feindish device out after her, so the crushing jive could continue. Up she went again. Squish-splart. "Aren't you sorry I lost those kilos for our medical?"
I looked back at the door... "No."
Now... the pot lid is rounded. And olives do contain oil even if mixed with black splarty goo. Oily slippery oil. And of course a bed of olives is not terribly stable...

I love her dearly even though she was a fallen woman. (wearing her glasses to do this, I ask you). Fortunately, no need to call the ambulance - I have this mental image of their faces.

The goo... well It's been stirred and squeezed. It's oily, but oil hasn't really seperated out. I think B would need a lot more kilos. I am about to go and put some in a milk bottle, and walk out into the field (a long way from the house) and spin it around my head on a rope (nearest I can think of to a centifuge.) Hmm. odds on going into town and being asked just what I was doing twirling? :-).


  1. Put a stick on your rope and tell them you've taken up bullroaring. Heck, explain that it's a South African ritual thing, very exclusive, and that only a few people are allowed to teach it, and they are so lucky, you're one. Then have them swing for a while. You can hand out copies of the chapter where Tom Sawyer paints a fence as a kind of graduation present...

  2. Mike:-) If John and his son show up I'll have try that. Mind you, I am not sure I can run faster than young Tristan.

  3. Dave – Are you growing spinach (for carrying Olive over extended distances)?

  4. Tantalus -I barely made it to the finnisch ;-). And yeah, lots of spinach. It's doing well.

  5. I know proper oil is not supposed to be heated, but perhaps simmering the goo would separate the oil? Or does it smell as bad as it currently tastes?

    Got my bees last night!!! Working in the bee-yard (with gloves and veil) is easy. The bees are very gentle. My teacher doesn't use gloves. I'll report when I have more experience.

    A couple of antipodean links: (one paragraph got garbled somehow)

  6. AbigailM - no it smells gorgeous! Absoultely olivey if you know what I mean. I tried bringing the temp to 90 degrees. no difference.

    Oh that is very cool about the bees!

  7. I am so excited about the bees, I hope they really get busy and produce lots!

  8. Dave you aren't old enough to be a twirly. (Definitions 2 & 3 from )

  9. Francis - funnily enough I remember that term from about a 1970 (about) Fred Basset cartoon.