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Posts Tagged ‘Keith Richmond’

We woke up to the news that our friends’ organic Tuscan olive oil won First Prize last night at the local Tuscan competition!

Complimenti, Keith and Helen!

Here’s their website for Boggioli, pictured below–1100 olive trees on a hillside in the Valdarno south of Florence: http://www.boggioli.com/

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The judges got it right–the oil we brought back last week is exceptional.

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We arrived at Boggioli this year, as last, in a rainstorm that disrupted the olive picking process.

Our usual contribution to the work–gathering the olives into the plastic paniers and pulling out any twigs and small branches that have fallen in–was minimal–limited this year to one afternoon.

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The torrential rain had made it impossible for the five-man team of professional pickers to work. This left Keith with a problem: He had booked a visit to the frantoio (oil processing plant) but only had a small quantity of olives waiting to be transported from the previous day’s limited picking.

Olives begin to degrade fast and waiting more than two days might affect the overall quality of this year’s yield. So to make up the quantity a little, Keith, Helen, Meredith and I picked some trees nearest to the house where the ground is flat and relatively dry.

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Pas grand choses but it was fun and made more sense of the next morning’s trip to the frantoio.

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The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are well known–and Tuscan oils are especially highly prized.
Keith and Helen’s dedication to the cause has been justly rewarded.
We sped home last week with our precious cargo on board–highly prized now in more senses than one!

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Olive picking resumed yesterday, Wednesday, after rain stopped play for two days–(sounds like the English cricket season!)

We arrived here Sunday night after driving down the Ligurian coast in a storm.

A brief and beautiful pause in Santa Margherita Liguria, Sunday morning–

soon proved one of Mother Nature’s teases as the rain began in earnest again on the road to Florence.

Footage of flood devastation on the Tuscan coast reminded us of America’s East Coast troubles–still terrible for many.

Our friend, Keith, didn’t apologize for the uncharacteristic Tuscan gloom.

You brought the rain and wind with you–from home!

It’s true, it tagged onto our coattails in Provence and followed us all the way.

But today all that is forgotten as autumn returns to its golden glory.

Keith’s team of five work their tough eight hour day on the steep terraces–the clickity-clacking of the picking poles playing constantly in their ears as the pretty little olives, green and all shades of purple, rain down from the trees and onto the nets.

A tree yields a litre of oil, roughly–Keith says.

He has a thousand trees. It takes a couple of weeks to harvest his crop, depending on the weather.

Then our job begins.

Gently lifting up the nets after the trees have yielded up their treasures, we help guide the olives into piles.

We pull out any twigs and small branches that have fallen and gather the olives into the plastic paniers, ready to go to the frantoio to be processed  in the morning.

Alba–a willing helper.

They had four good days last week though the rain has lowered the percentage of oil in the olives, plumping them up with water.

It doesn’t affect the overall quality of the oil–just the yield.

The liquid gold seems even better than last year.

My hands I notice smell of sea water–that slightly salty tang.

Must ask the master about this.

Exhausted olive worker, is now retiring to the shower!

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