By Heidi Trautmann
The Cypriot month of November is dedicated entirely to the olives, people get their ladders out and try to get the crop in within two days to avoid high percentage of acidity. In the months prior to November the oil mills have brought their machinery in order and now try to cope with the rush of proud olive tree owners. We arrived early at 7.00 hrs in the morning to find five cars fully loaded with numberless sacks and crates in front of us. The factory in Karsiaka starts their machines at 8 o’clock, and during the day they try to keep a temperature below 30° for cold pressure. The first loads are emptied into the receptacle at the entrance then led automatically over a conveyor belt to the shaker compartment where the olives are washed to be further transported to the shredder. There are four sections available for the mash of four working processes; we had number “6”.
The next process is a sort of pressing or centrifugation which I cannot see because it takes place in a sort of closed chamber before it is led to a filter system. Finally through a final filter, the golden juice runs into a stainless steel receptacle from where you can fill your containers to take home. It takes between three to four hours of waiting but you get to talk to people, examine their crop and taste their oil.
First thing we usually do at home is to taste our own fluid crop on a piece of toasted village bread and we nod our heads knowingly and appreciatively. We will then let the oil sit in the container for a day or two before we fill it into bottles up to the rim to avoid any oxygen left within. We keep the bottles in a dark place for the months to come and it is a sensual pleasure to bring a bottle onto the kitchen table for mixing your salad with the precious gold you have harvested yourself. A proud and satisfying moment.
PS: Ten years ago we went to the old still traditionally working oil mill right in the centre of the Karsiaka village and I had to sit on my crates for 7 hours! The owners were the same.