HARVESTING OLIVES IN KASTELA

In Kastela the summer was dry and warm. Many tourists sailed on our Adriatic sea, sunbathing on our beaches, toasting in our restaurants… Maestral wind brings the scent of salt and much- desired refreshment to the beaches, across the stone streets all the way to our fertile, green Kastela fields.
Summer is the time when everything around us grows and ripens under the warm Mediterranean sun.

Autumn is coming… most tourists are slowly going home… here are only a few tourists who know the hidden beauties of autumn and we locals. The people of Kastela have been cultivating their fertile land for centuries.
We save the rays of the sun and the warmth of summer through the fruits of the earth for the winter…
Everything is painted in some other colors… purple ripe grapes in the vineyards, red peppers, pome and balanca in the gardens, orange tangerines and green-blue olives…
Everything smells like some other scent. These are the smells of must, squeezed grapes, the smells of cooked vegetables for winter – ajvars, jams and similar delicacies…
The olive is the queen… The olive is a sacred tree. Olive is like a mother – she doesn’t ask for much, but she gives a lot. Always and forever.

The people of Kastela have been praying to God all summer so that the olive trees are not attacked by parasites during the dry and hot summer, also that fires do not harm them…
In early autumn, the people of Kastela visit their fields expect an ideal ratio of colors on the canopy of their olive trees. There must be one third green, one third purple and one third black olives.
This is the right time to start picking.

 

Again the people of Kastela pray to God, this time that there will be no rain when it is time to pick. The rain will fill the olives with water, there will be no good oil. Oblica is a favorite sort in Dalmatia. It is a beautiful sort – round, beautiful and large fruit, but like any beautiful girl – it is capricious. Sometimes she brings the fruits and sometines not. It is better for eat than for the oil.
Other sorts are less reputable. Levantine, leccino, swallow… small, but give plenty of oil. Every year.
They are only good for oil.

In the morning we go to the field. All of us from Kastela. Whole families. With tractors, jeeps, trailers.
We wear combs for branches and rugs on which we comb fruits. We carry cassettes in which we will place the olives until processing. At 25 kg, they must no longer be damaged. We also carry wine and fish or meat fror grill. Dalmatian cheerful nature in the world is a favorite precisely because it knows how to combine work, a good bite and the drop of wine. Most often it is a Kastelas wine – world famous Zinfandel or what would we call it here – Kastelas crljenak or Opol.
We pick and talk all day. There are also a lot of jokes. Family & friends reunion. Behind that is always time for socializing and singing. You definitely don’t need to do the whole job on the same day 😉
As the evening falls we go home, to the taverns. There we separate the olives from the twigs and leaves. Some put the fruit in the sea to make it less bitter, and some do not. They say the taste of the oil is milder when olives are from the sea.
And so for a few days we live in our fields that bind us to our ancestors and connect us in love for the Croatia country in which we live and with each other.
When all the olives are harvested, we transport them in boxes to the oil mills. Cold press in the traditional way.
Then the people of Kaštela pray to God to give them as much oil as possible. The so-called randman – from how many kilograms to how many liters of oil we got. You can be proudly boast when random is at least 15%.
And then we take that oil home. We taste the oil with some salted sardines and a piece of bread. And of course, with a glass of Kastelas wine.
People from Kastela thank God for the fruits of the soil. Cheers to your health! Until next year!

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