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Sunday, 15 November 2009

More olive picking & of why things aren't made the way they used to be

After another day indoors yesterday due to the weather we were getting itchy feet to get on with the olives. Saturday, rain was forecast, and as we looked out of the window, it did look decidedly damp, so having to make a decision to drive 20 km and then stand in the rain, we opted not to go. However the rain never developed into anything more than a steady drizzle. So today we decided, hey there's people out there dealing with snow, what's a bit of drizzle, let's go.

This time we did get a couple of photos in, both taken by me from the top of a tree:

By lunch time the steady drizzle had worn us down though, our feet were soaking and we called it a day, after having pruned another tree threes, tree trees, tr..., anyway. One of dem three... trees, was a majestic ancient gnarly one. Standing near the trunk you could barely see daylight (and not feel the rain either for that matter...). I'd have taken a photo, but more of that later. We picked another 9 odd kilos of olives and got a good load of wood to shlepp home.

For those of you not familar with olives, because you happen to come from cooler climatic conditions, here a few facts about them:
  • There is no such thing as green and black olives in the way that there are black and green grapes. It's a matter of maturity. Green olives are simply harvested sooner.
  • There are however as many olive varieties as there are grape varieties. On this little olive grove alone, we have so far identified at least 3 different varieties, unfortunately I can not identify them by name:
  1. This one I like to call Plum olive, as they are quite large and more plum coloured than black, indeed we have a plum tree producing very similar looking plums

These are more classic for the region. They are quite small and very black when ripe:

These ones came of the giant tree. It produced so much shade over itself, that the olives haven't ripened as far as in other parts of the olive grove, hence many are still green. They are a little larger and more oval-shaped.

  • Fact number 3 about olives: As tempting as the ones in my hand may look, they are not edible like this. They have to be cured. The most common method is to put them in a brine solution for a period of time. Our olives from last year seem to be getting better and better, the longer we leave them.
  • Fact number 4 about olives, the wood is the hardest wood I've come across. Without a chainsaw, the job we are doing now would take much, much longer. On the plus side it burns brilliantly, giving off plenty of heat for a long time. You can even burn it while still quite green, as it contains some oil too. It also weighs some! I have trouble carrying one bucket full up to our house (at least 3 cases of wine worth!).

So much about your olive lesson for today. The other thing that's been bothering me today is: why don't they make things like they used to anymore? I own a 25 year old camera. Admittedly it wasn't cheap initially, I won't go into manufacturer details and so on. Suffice to say it was pretty much the last of a generation of cameras, where at least you still had the choice of doing everything manually, i.e. manual focus, manual apperture etc. Battery consumption was minimal and it took, no it still takes, great photos. I had that camera with me in the Tropics of Indonesia, in an Indian Monsoon, took pictures in the middle of a sandstorm in the Wadi Rum Dessert in Jordan and carried it with me during an arctic winter 500 km north of the Arctic Circle. It was my constant companion hitchhiking through Europe, got dropped several times from great heights stepping out of lorries, got used as a pillow sleeping rough under the Autoput motorway in ex-Yugoslavia and it still works. Never had a problem.

Only trouble of course was the weight with all that extra equipment and that it works with old fashioned film. Not only can I not afford to buy and develop films any more, it's also not very environmentally friendly. Millions of gallons of toxic waste used to be produced by the photographic industry, which with the onset of digital photography must have drastically reduced. So about 3 years ago I bought myself a digital camera, again brand names shall remain unmentioned. It was a little compact one, handy to carry around, and the official specs could compete with my old camera.

After a few weeks, whenever I turned off the camera, the automatic shutter wouldn't shut and open properly any more. Next the zoom lens wouldn't zoom any more. Bits of the frame would start coming undone. Buttons wouldn't work when pressed. Now it's gone completely temperamental and only works, it seems, when it feels like. After taking the pics off the tree today, the lens would only half retreat and not come out again. I was ready to throw it away after some 10 minutes fiddling. Getting home I gave it one last chance, and it managed to take the photos of the olives in my hand again. But I'm just not sure how much longer this is going to work. This may soon becaome a pictureless blog. 3 1/2 years is all it took, and the bloody thing wasn't cheap either!


Mr. H. said...

I just learned a whole lot about olives. I had no idea they had to sit in brine for so long, very interesting.

Sorry to hear about your camera, many products seem to be that way anymore. Just today I purchased a water pump for my truck and saw that it had a big crack in it, broke before it left the box.

Ruralrose said...

i loved learning about olives, lots i did not know, great post - sorry about your camera, does seem to be a sign of the times, peace for all

Anna said...

Hi Heiko,
...I had a look on the article you invited me to read, very interesting! There are so many things to say about Liguria, little by little I will tell about it. In one of my next post I'm going to speak about Via Garibaldi, a World heritage Site and also about Varese Ligure (when I have been there, I was fascinated by the nature, I walked through some paths and caressed wild horses...).

Thanks for your post on Olives, you know about the olives in the brine solution, my mother put in the jar also some orange peel, without the white stratus, to flavour the brine...