If you are in Jordan for one the olive harvest in the fall, you are in luck! You can participate in the olive harvest and experience culture up close as you work alongside local families to gather olives. The olive harvest is an essential part of Jordan’s calendar, being an event that both holds significance in terms of tradition and in terms of continuing to be a source of provision for local families.
The products that come from the farming of olives are extensive, and all are of value, making the farming of olives an essential part of Jordanian life and economy. Both the olives and the wood are valuable, the latter of course being fashioned into a variety of products from jewellery to furniture, and then sold. Important to note, only non-producing trees are used for furniture and jewelry pieces and household items are typically made from the prunings of the trees.
The olives themselves are the real deal though. Or perhaps, what they make is. Jordan is one of the world’s top-10 producers of olive oil, and it’s a good that they are for it is consumed by the gallon here- practically every meal uses this precious ingredient to bring life to the dish. A local favorite is simply bread dipped in olive oil and za’atar.
As stated, if you are in Jordan during the fall, you can visit an olive farm to witness and participate in the picking process. Here is your simple how to, so that you know you are up to the task of being an olive harvester.
First, you pull your hands down the branches, stripping the trees of the ripe olives, which then fall onto the tarpaulin stretched below the tree.
Once that tree is stripped of olives, the olives are shaken into the middle of the tarpaulin, ready to be sifted through and for all the twigs that have fallen into the mix to be removed. As you can see this is a very manual process in Jordan.
Any olives lying on the ground are also collected. Dried and shrivelled olives which are seemingly past their best due to having been left on the floor a while are actually the best kind to take to the press, for the water has evaporated from them leaving only concentrated oil behind!
The olives, now twig free, are piled in buckets, which are poured into sacks. These sacks get transported to the warehouse and factory where the press lives, and are then churned and juiced, pulped and purified, until only the gorgeous yellow oil remains.
This experience offers excellent insight into a process that is at the heart of Jordanian culture, in terms of economy, cuisine and tradition. Of course, not all olives are turned into olive oil, there is another process that begins to create olives for eating. Yum! But that is for another post.
We highly recommend this experience: educational and fun, it makes a great day out for all the family in the fresh air of the northern countryside, which is by far the greenest part of Jordan!
Next Autumn, sign up for the harvest- you won’t regret it.