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Harvesting and Processing Olives: A Beginner's Guide 2024

08 Feb 2024
Harvesting and Processing Olives: A Beginner's Guide 2024

Web Garden Centre Experience and YouTube Tutorial

While we have very limited experience in olive harvesting and processing, we've curated a helpful YouTube video tutorial to guide you through the process step by step. This informative video covers everything from assessing olive ripeness to post-harvest processing techniques, making it an invaluable resource for beginners. Follow along with the video tutorial to learn essential tips and tricks for successful olive harvesting and processing.

Harvesting and processing olives is a time-honored tradition that yields delicious fruits and valuable olive oil. While the process may seem daunting to beginners, with the right guidance, anyone can successfully harvest and process olives at home. In this beginner's guide, we'll walk you through the steps involved in harvesting ripe olives and processing them for consumption or oil extraction. Although the Web Garden Centre has limited experience in this field, we've compiled valuable information and included a helpful YouTube video tutorial to assist you every step of the way.

Determining Ripeness

Before harvesting olive trees, it's crucial to determine their ripeness, as this will affect both their flavor and suitability for processing. Here's how to assess olive ripeness:

  • Color: Ripe olives typically range from green to black, depending on the variety. Green olives are generally harvested earlier in the season, while black olives are left to fully ripen on the tree.
  • Texture: Ripe olives should feel plump and firm to the touch, with a slight give when gently squeezed.
  • Taste: Sample a few olives to assess their flavor. Ripe olives should have a mild, fruity taste without any bitterness.

Harvesting Methods

Once you've determined that your olives are ripe, it's time to harvest them. Here are two common methods for harvesting olives:


Handpicking involves carefully plucking ripe olives from the tree by hand. This method is labor-intensive but allows for selective harvesting of only the ripest fruits. Use a small ladder or step stool to reach higher branches, and gently twist the olives off the stems to avoid damaging the fruit or the tree.


Raking is a more efficient method suited for larger olive orchards. Use a specialized olive rake or a long-handled garden rake to gently comb through the branches, dislodging ripe olives onto a tarp or cloth spread beneath the tree. Once the olives have been harvested, gather them into containers for processing.

Post-Harvest Processing

After harvesting, olives must undergo post-harvest processing to prepare them for consumption or oil extraction. Here's a basic overview of the post-harvest processing steps:


Thoroughly wash the harvested olives to remove any dirt, debris, or residue. Use cool, clean water and a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the olives, ensuring they are clean and free from contaminants.

Brining or Curing

If you plan to consume olives whole, they will need to be brined or cured to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavor. There are various methods for brining or curing olives, including dry curing, water curing, and brine curing. Follow a trusted recipe or consult the YouTube video tutorial for detailed instructions on your chosen method.

Oil Extraction (Optional)

If you're harvesting olives for oil extraction, you'll need to process them using a mechanical olive press or mill. This process involves crushing the olives to release their oil, followed by separation and filtration to produce high-quality olive oil. Refer to the YouTube video tutorial for guidance on olive oil extraction techniques.

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