Well, oil be!

Olive inspectors Jessica and Angus Stewart on the job

A keen bunch of olive pickers turned out to John and Gail Riddell’s olive grove last Friday.

Armed with enthusiasm and cold drinks, friends and family set to and in about five hours’ picked about 407 kilos of fruit from 25 trees.

About 230 olive trees were planted in 2008 –  the three varieties are Picual, a Spanish pollinator, and Leccino and Frantoio, both from Tuscany.

“It’s quite common for young trees to blow over in a big wind. Once the roots develop there is less chance of this. The Leccino variety that we picked is the most vigorous grower so is very susceptible to wind damage.”

The harvest was taken to Eureka where it was cold-pressed, yielding 45 litres of oil.

“That’s slightly better than 10% which is a good result for this type of pressing.”

Number 8 Network’s Annette Taylor helped too; it’s demanding work being on the other side of a camera.

John says a lot was learned about the tricky business of olive harvesting and systems developed.  “It was great having such willing helpers, too.”


John demonstrates the use of the electric picking machine, which has fast moving fingers that knock the olives off the tree.

Then Tina (and other Olive Pickers) follow along afterwards and demonstrate their fast-moving fingers, deftly dropping the fruit on to the carefully prepared nets below –

These are then delivered to the Olive Leaf Removers, Lance and Trevor –


(If you look real close you can see the olives bouncing down the ramp…)



LR Chris 005

Chris moves the nets while dad John gets stuck in –


And like magic, many olives are soon collected and ready for processing –


Oil be pickled!

This is an early pick, with a greater proportion of green olives to black, says John.  As the picking season progresses, they’ll get riper.

And here is (most of, some were hiding amongst the olives) the Great Gordonton Olive Harvest team  of 2014 –

Great work, guys!


7 thoughts on “Well, oil be!

  • May 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Great article and photos Annette.

    If anyone wants to experience the romance of an olive harvest, talk to Annette. We’ll be doing another pick in a couple of weeks.

    • May 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Hi john I am an enthusiastic collector of nuts etc I have been bottling olives but the tree I picked has been chopped down I was wondering if in exchange for picking I might be able to pick some for bottling I’m interested in what your up to as well cheers mark PS the olives I have bottled are as good if not better than any Greek styled commercial olives

      • May 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

        Thanks for your comment Mark, will get in touch!

  • May 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Great photos as always Annette, photos tell such wonderful stories. Very interesting to see the harvest up close. Didn’t know that is how it is done. Well that amount of oil will keep John and his family going for quite a while.

  • May 31, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Hi my name is Ross I want to proper gate olives so I may grow my own olive grove and are asking if I can please come up and take some cuttings from your trees thanks Ross


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