The end of Autumn is time for Olive Picking in Turkey. We have a dozen or so olive trees of our own. Our friends and neighbors own many more and so it is always the busiest time of year in our local community. This year has proved a bumper harvest crop of olives and so it is even busier than usual. It often happens that one year will produce a large crop and then the following year will much less productive.
Most years we pick enough olives to store for the following year. The olives are collected then washed and put into large jars along with lots of rock salt. They then need to be rolled in the jars every other day for two months or so. This process gets rid of the excess bitter juice from the olives. At the end of this process they are soaked in water to get rid of the remaining salt and they are ready to eat. Olives can be kept in jars for a few years and still be good to eat. In turkey they are an important part of everyone’s diet. You will be offered olives to eat at every breakfast table.
This year we have enough olives to take to be crushed and made into our own olive oil. It takes approximately 5kgs of olives to make 1litre of olive oil. The traditional way was to use a large mill stone to crush the olives. Many Turkish farmhouses still have these olive presses. Today when the olive picking in Turkey is finished, it is modern machinery that is used to extract the oil from the olives. The machines are able to extract more oil and several pressings are taken from the same batches.
If you are able to visit Turkey in 2018 make sure you try some local olives. The best places to try different varieties and buy some oil are the local markets (pazars). They are all over Turkey wherever you go.
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