Harvesting Olives at Willow Creek to Produce the Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Words: Crush

Olive harvesting season is in full swing at Willow Creek Olive Estate! The team goes to great lengths to ensure that they consistently produce high-quality extra virgin olive oils that South African’s love to enjoy. We learn a bit more about the process of harvesting olives with team Willow Creek team.

Harvesting olives at Willow Creek

Local harvesting criteria

Harvest time in the Western Cape is normally between March to July and sometimes even late in August. At Willow Creek Olive Estate, they make use of both manual labour and technology-driven solutions to harvest their olives.

To determine the optimal harvesting time for olives intended for oil production, the following criteria should be adhered to:

  • The olives must have the maximum weight of oil.
  • The quality of the oil must be optimal.
  • Fruit and tree damage must be minimal.
  • Next year’s crop must not be affected.
  • Harvesting costs must be kept as low as possible.

In order to adhere to the above criteria, Willow Creek Olive Estate is a firm believer in producing all of their olive oils locally. Their exceptional products are not only a testament to the incredible farming conditions and terrain that South African farmers are lucky enough to benefit from, but it also allows them to compete with other countries on the international olive oil market.

Harvesting olives at-Willow-Creek

By harvesting their olives correctly and producing and storing their products in the right way, they don’t have to store or transport olives for extended periods of time. This ensures that all of their products are bottled right at the source, which means you get the freshest possible olive oil.

Harvesting Olives requires a delicate touch

The rate of olive picking is influenced by lots of factors, like the cultivar and the size of the tree. With that said, 60kg of olives on average can be harvested per adult on a daily basis with regards to table olives. Over 100kg of olives used for extra virgin olive oil production can be plucked per adult per day.

Trees at Willow CReek

Delicate handling is required when harvesting olives seeing as damaged produce will not be readily accepted by processors. This is especially true with regards to olives intended for oil production. Whenever possible, all olives should be processed within 24 hours in order to produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

How Olives Become oil

Following harvesting, all twigs and debris are removed and the olives are washed thoroughly. The olives are then crushed into a paste, with malaxing of the paste following suit.

Afterwards, the oil is separated from the olive paste by centrifugal force in a decanter and then left in tanks to separate further in a process known as ‘racking’ (much like fine wine!). Finally, the oil is stored in large stainless steel tanks in a temperature-controlled room, with every cultivar stored in its own tank.

At Willow Creek Olive Estate, their master oil blender then takes the olive oils and mixes or infuses them with complementary flavours in order to produce their award-winning olive oil range.

It’s no wonder that the Willow Creek Olive Estate has been so positively lauded since it was first created; it continues to win awards and is one of South Africa’s iconic olive oil brands.

Recipes using the Willow Creek Range

Love the range as much as we do? Why not try some of our favourite recipes using the Willow Creek range.

Steak and Mushroom Kebabs with Balsamic Marinade

For meat-eaters and vegetarians alike! Choose your preference of skewer and tuck in.

Get the Recipe

Onion, Olive and Goat Cheese Tart

Get the Recipe

Lam Meatball recipe using extra virgin olive oil
tex mex soup using extra virgin olive oil

Lamb Meatballs with Herbed Yoghurt

We get cooking with Willow Creek olive oils to create this delicious dish of Lamb Meatballs with toasted pitas, hummus and herbed yoghurt

Get the Recipe

Tex Mex Chilli Soup

We’ll take a bowl of Tex-Mex chilli topped with delicious cheese and crunchy tacos over anything!

Get the Recipe

shortbread made with extra virgin olive oil
basil sorbet

Turkish Delight Olive Oil Shortbread

Olive oil makes an amazing shortbread, with this recipe we show you how.

Get the Recipe

Basil and Raspberry Sorbet

A deliciously light sorbet paired with sticky, crunchy meringue, it’s a sure win!

Get the Recipe

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