Every year, December marks the beginning of the olive harvest. This is the time of the ''Olivades'', a festival for the growers, pickers and seasonal inhabitants of the region, who go to the olive fields with combined enthusiasm. Nets and sheets are then spread at the foot of the trees to collect the harvested olives without damaging them. To speed up the pace, the trees are pruned at the same time. Electric combs can be used; they will only cause the branches to wiggle.

To ensure the unique taste that comes from the olive fruit, it’s imperative to preserve the ancestral method. The oil “At the Foot of the Bibans” is an oil prepared in the ancient method from black olives (>90% of the olives). Harvesting is done by team where every picker respects the principles of healthy harvests. The trees are neither hit with poles nor shaken, and the olives that have fallen to the ground before the harvest are put aside to be pressed separately. The olives are sorted to ensure that fewer than two percent have holes bored by emerging fruit flies.

Then the leaves are removed, and the olives are collected into crates of 10 cm in height so that they’re not crushed. The olives are stored in shelters for no longer than 48 hours before being sent to the mill.

Respecting nature

Definition

In order to preserve the values bequeathed by our ancestors, the olive grove is cultivated with attentive respect to the biological phenomena that combine agricultural development and protection/regeneration of the natural environment. Therefore, the olive grove is cultivated on the principles of agro-ecology. This is the basis for a comprehensive system of management and an agriculture that is multifunctional and sustainable, which establishes agro-ecosystems, optimizes production and minimizes inputs.


The olive tree and oil production
Olive oil production consists of simple but very regulated steps. When it’s a question of agro-ecology, one should not, above all, be “aggressive” with the natural environment. For that reason, the work in the grove is limited to:

  • January-February: Pruning and amendment (pomace)
  • March-April: Organic fertilization and tillage (about 10 cm deep), not practiced systematically
  • July-September: Limited irrigation 200L/tree 
  • October: Tillage, if necessary
  • December: Harvesting, seeding of green fertilizer (e.g. clover, 2.5kg/ha)


Principles of management and self-regulation
No insecticides, no pesticides and not even chemical fertilizers are used.
Tillage is done only between trees and above 10 cm in order not to damage the roots. The goal is mainly to prevent the growth of tall grass that dries during the summer and can spread fire in the region.
The pruned wood is either pulverized or burned in a fireplace.
The area surrounding the olive grove is planted with species that are typical of the region: jujube, rosemary, prickly pear cactus, cyst, cypress and Aleppo pine.

Upon arrival at the collective press, loading is done in increments of 400/500 kg (depending on capacity). Traditional presses have three phases - grinding, pressing and decantation – while presses with two phases combine grinding and pressing. In the case of the oil that we produce, the three-phase mill  is preferred, because it is the closest to the ancestral method. Even if the yield per quintal is slightly less, the quality is in no way altered.

The result is an oil that is certified “controlled origin,” strong in taste but sweet on the palate, and extra virgin (<0.8g of acid/L). For sanitary constraints, the harvest is done on a super press. This guarantees that the tools used (stainless steel) do not contain olives from other producers.

Havesting  on the field and Pressing @ Huileries Ouzellagen 2016

Olive oil harvest

​​Aux pieds des Bibans

Getting the olive 'fruit juice'  - COLD PRESS