With a bottle of Jeropiga (Portuguese alcoholic beverage made with grape juice and Aguardente), and my photo camera, I wanted to eternalize some of the beautiful Portuguese people during this special time of the year. I passed several villages and stopped where people were I saw people picking olives. I met all very sweet and hard working people. The Portuguese are seriously dedicated to the harvest because lots of times my offer of a glass of Jeropiga was kindly turned down, but they willingly posed for the camera. I also had the privilege to look behind the scenes of one of the few factories that still use the cold water technique to separate the water from the olive oil. This makes the olive oil of superior quality. You can find the album with all of the pictures on our Facebook Page.
Portuguese families and neighbors unite to pick the olives (azeitonas) of the many many olive trees that can be found in this area. They are on it for weeks and there is lots of activity all around. People are up in the trees to get even the seemingly unreachable olives, tractors with bags of olives are driving around, cars with ladders on top, people on the side of the road having their packed lunch, and of course in the café’s it is the talk of the day. The days for the olive pickers are long, because after the sun goes down, the nights are filled with taking the leaves from of the olive harvest to deliver them ‘clean’ to the factory.
The olive factories are only opened during the harvest season and there are strict rules of play. For some factories you need to be a member, but for the other you can call or go there to make appoint a day and time to bring your harvest. If you have a huge amount (like 1000 kg) you could have your own batch and you are sure the oil you get is from your own olives. If you have less, you can combine it with someone else’s olives. There is also an option to trade your olives for the oil they store at the factory which is the result of many different olives from the area. In any case, an x amount of kilos of olives make one liter of oil, and you will need to pay an x amount per liter.
For example: you picked 200 kg of olives and the factory generates 1 liter of olive oil with every 10 kg of olives and asks 1 euro per liter.
You will end up with 20 liters and pay € 20,- + you go home with lots of hours olive picking experience! But it is all worth it! Nothing tastes better than your OWN traditionally pressed, high quality, healthy, super tasty olive oil (azeite).