Secret of the good oil

FIONA Makowski and the team at Freshfield Grove are beginning the olive harvesting season, their product making the change from tree fruit to oil in a matter of hours.

Freshfield Grove is located just outside Richmond, with three hectares of orchard holding 1000 trees producing between seven to 10 tonnes of olives per season.

The picking and pressing process will take about six weeks, with different olives producing different oils across the harvest.

“When you start off, it’s quite spicy and very green in colour,” Ms Makowski said.

“As the fruit matures and ripens better, you get a more stringent peppery flavour, as the fruit softens up a little.”

On a normal harvesting day, Fiona and her team process about 200kg of olives, typically yielding between 15-18 per cent oil from the pressed produce.

There is an amount of experimentation going on in the pressing phase too, with Freshfield producing an agrumato olive oil, and there are plans to introduce more flavours to their mix in the future.

The hand-picking process and self-pressing at the site is certainly an artisan style, and the plans are to continue in the same vein.

“No olive travels more than 300 meters from the tree to the press, it’s awesome to have control over every part of that process,” Ms Makow-ski said.

It is expected that about 1000 litres of oil will be processed from the orchard this season, with most of their produce headed to farmers markets or sold through their own website.

In early June, Freshfield Grove held its annual Com-munity Olive Pressing Day, which attracted about 200 people to press over a thou-sand tonnes of olives.

“I’m impressed by how much people brought in, we pressed just over 1.2 tonnes of olives into 166 litres of oil, it was fantastic,” Ms Makow-ski said.

The day also featured tours of the grove, tastings of the oils and food from neighbours and experienced cooks, Anita and Russell Crook from Tasmanian Kitchen Pantry.

Attendees received 100ml of their own oil to take home on the day, while the remain-der was filtered, packed and labelled for collection later in the month.

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