I made olive oil for the first time this past weekend, and its been a bittersweet experience. Picking olives all day and seeing the fruits of this labor in the form of truly incredible olive oil is an exceptionally gratifying experience. On the other hand, you can only really do it once every two years. Perhaps that makes it more special, but it really does suck to have to wait too.
My friend/cousin/older brother Yarden lives in a small town called Shaked in northern Shomron/Samaria overlooking the Jezre’el Valley. He has three olive trees in his front yard, and his relatives who live in Shaked have a few more trees as well. Beyond these trees, he has a piece of land just outside Shaked where he has already planted over 130 olive trees and his goal is to have a thousand. These trees are too young to bear fruit, so we only picked olives from his front yard. This was quite enough, because between the six trees from various places in Shaked around 250 kilos of olives were picked. It is awesome, but tiring as one can imagine. You can shake the trees all you want, and a lot of olives fall this way, but you still have to go branch by branch and get what is left. A ton of olives don’t fall on the mats you lay on the ground, so you have to pick those up to. Its a very tiring job.

By Saturday afternoon we had all of our olives and we went down the hill to a nearby Arab town, Kfar Qara, where there is an olive press where you can make olive oil. Making olive oil has gone high tech for some time now. Initially you put the olives in a vat, where they are led up a conveyer belt. The olives go through a deep wash before they are crushed. The oil, juices, and other olive liquids go into a series of machines that use  some kind of centrifugal force process (my physics knowledge is not the best) that separates the oil from the rest of the liquids. The end product is an amazing oil that I’m not going to even try to describe in this post. The 200+ kilos we picked ended up being 27 liters of oil, and this might last Yarden and the Shaked family a year.

Picking olives and making your own oil is something I really recommend to anyone who has the chance. You can only do it every other year, as olives trees only bear fruit every other year, so don’t pass up any opportunity you have.  So this is all I have to say about olive oil until 2012…

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