Our olive oil is available for sale from http://cortijoplata.com/shop/
For the moment, it is only available to wholesalers but we hope that it will soon be available to the public as well.
See this page for more information about our oil and HOW TO BUY IT.
HARVESTING THE OLIVES
Every December we pick our olives at the cortijo and take them to the olive cooperative to be pressed. Olives can be harvested any time between the beginning of December and the end of March and we prefer to pick ours as early as possible to avoid losing the crop to heavy winds or snow.
Large nets are placed on either side of each tree and the olives are knocked down from the higher branches using long, light sticks. The olives on the lower branches are combed off the trees with long-fingered, olive combs. The nets are carefully dragged down from tree to tree and the olives are bagged at the end of each row. It is not necessary to remove all branches and leaves as these removed at the cooperative. We generally take the bags to the cooperative every 3 or 4 days.
Unlike grapes, green and black olives grow on the same tree: the green olive is simply picked earlier in November.
PRODUCING THE OIL
There are a large number of oil cooperatives throughout Andalucia, each producing a distinctive oil. When deciding where to take your olives, you will need to taste the oil that each produces to see which one you prefer. The cooperative we use is the Cooperativa Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Diezma in the province of Granada. They produce an extra virgin olive oil from early harvest, picual olives using mechanical means. The oil is versatile and can be used for roasting, sautéeing, shallow-frying, dressing and drizzling. It contains no preservatives and is 100% nut free.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE COOPERATIVE
When it’s your turn, you first empty your bags of olives through the metal grid. The leaves and branches are then removed and the olives pass onto a conveyor belt and up to the weighing machine. As the olives proceed along the conveyor belt, a random sample of olives are collected for analysis. These are sent off the laboratory to measure the acidity level and this is used to calculate how many litres of olive oil you will be entitled to. Generally speaking, 5kg of olives produce 1 litre of oil. You can either opt to be paid in oil or in cash.
There are two way of collecting the olives: “vuelo” and “suelo”. The vuelo olives are collected directly from the tree whereas the suelo olives are picked up from the ground. A higher price is paid for the vuelo olives.
WORLD OLIVE OIL PRODUCTION
Spain produces around 50% of total global olive oil production. This is followed by Italy (15%), Greece (13%) and Turkey (5%).
Italy exports more oil than it produces and imports a lot of oil from Spain.
Now’s the season for “ajetes” (garlic sprouts) so there will be plenty of opportunities to try out different recipes. This one is a combination of a traditional Spanish omelette and the garlic. This is a large tortilla and makes enough for 6-8 people.
1200g potatoes, finely sliced
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 handful garlic sprouts, cut into pieces
Finely slice the potatoes and wash in cold water.
Heat some olive oil in a deep-sided frying pan and add the potatoes. Mix well so that they are thoroughly coated in the oil and begin frying on a high heat. Fry for 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 or so minutes. After you’ve turned the potatoes, turn the heat up for a minute or so and then cover and turn the heat down for another couple of minutes so that the potatoes get a bit of colour and cook in the steam at the same time.
Sprinkle over the chopped onion and garlic and continue cooking until everything is cooked.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Add a splash of milk.
Spoon into the eggs and mix well.
Find a frying pan that will fit a flat plate or flat saucepan lid. I have a large lid for the pan for making cheese and this works really well with the largest frying pan I have. I’ve found that the easiest way to flip the omelette is by using a saucepan lid. That way, you can use the handle to help you. To flip the omelette, you need to be confident and it’s best done over the sink – confidently and quickly are key.
Heat some oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, quickly pour in the egg and potato mixture. Set the timer for 1 minute and cook on a high heat. Turn down the heat, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the tortilla. Turn the heat up and cook again for 1 minute on high before covering and turning down the heat for 2 minutes. Check the tortilla is cooked in the middle and serve.