94. At the Press

Rube Goldberg comes to mind. Or that old board game Mousetrap. But what will linger in my memory most is the smell: the beautiful, rich smell of crushed olives.

After our first day in the groves, we went along with Tonio as he brought our half-ton haul to the press. (We picked a full ton the second day!) There we saw — step by step — how the olives progress from one monster machine to another, until the final product rests in the designated Creanza tank. Although it was carefully explained to me, I can’t begin to absorb it, let alone describe it here. Hopefully the photos will give a sense of the scope and complexity of the operation.

Dumping the crates we harvested
 Olives making their way to the press
The big brown wheels extract the oil
Olive sludge
 Pure olive oil
Getting a bottle to bring home for dinner

Not surprisingly, olive oil plays a central role in the Creanza family’s lives. They use it as a skin moisturizer, with great results. Not only do they use it heavily in all their cooking — including deep frying for which we would most likely use canola or corn oil — but they keep a bottle on the table and use it as a condiment on all manner of dishes. And what a thrill it was for us to use the olive oil — made from olives we picked the previous day — on our pasta.


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