April 1, 2023

By Richard and Karen Beale …….

We thought we would share with you our experience of taking olives to the local factory for the first time to have them pressed into that precious gift of olive oil.

We have two olive trees in our garden and over the years they have produced enough olives for us to pick, crush and preserve in salt water for consumption later.

Well I think like everybody on the island after the horrendous winter and the rainy spring we endured, this year there is an abundance of olives on the trees.

Our two trees were heavily laden, far too many for us to eat so we decided to pick them and bag them up and take them to an olive press factory.

Yes, it was hard work picking and gathering them, climbing ladders, best too in either the early morning or when the sun was going down.

After ascertaining from locals that there is an Olive Factory in Geçitkale we decided one morning to take them for pressing.

The Factory was easy to find in Geçitkale on the main road on the right if you are travelling from Tatlısu.

Weigh your olives, pour them in the hopper and watch them go to be cleaned.

Neither of us having done this before we were not sure of the procedure when arriving at the factory. We needn’t have worried as locals and workers were very helpful, obviously not seeing too many expats getting their olives pressed.

It’s a ” queuing procedure” on the loading bay you put your olives on the weighing scales, a lady gives you a piece of paper with the weight on them and you have to tell her your name. Our olives weighed nearly 50kg and she charged us 50tl to have our olives pressed.

It’s just a matter of waiting in turn for your olives to be pressed. You sit in chairs provided and gradually move along the line just like the different stages of your olives.

Firstly you pour them into a hopper, they then go into buckets to be washed and any leaves and stalks are separated. The next stage they go into the crusher or masher and finally they go into a machine that is called the “decanter” where you can see your oil being “decanted” into a large bowl. After that the worker, as if you were filling up your car with petrol, puts the oil into your containers. We took some 5 litre plastic water bottles, though you can buy suitable containers at the factory.

The olives are washed then mashed !

Obviously many years ago every village had an olive press, done probably with the help of a donkey turning the large stone press.

Nowadays there are a number of modern factories over the island, what we found amusing if this was in the UK, Health and Safety would have a field day!  Firstly members of the public certainly wouldn’t be allowed on the factory floor. There would be safety bars all round the machinery as it is quite noisy with all the pumps and machines going ear/sound deflectors would be required along with hard hats, goggles, gloves, high viz. jackets and safety boots. Certainly workers wouldn’t be allowed to smoke or have a cup of coffee on the shop floor!

We enjoyed the experience, the locals were very friendly towards us  and you can even make a cup of Turkish Coffee if you want. We also learned that the best olives for pressing are when they are green.

Green gold and it’s yours!

All in all from arriving it took around 1½ hours, it depends on how many people are in front of you and what quantity of olives they have to press.

Our Olives produced nearly 10 litres of oil, in the supermarkets a litre of oil is around 45 tl plus, so yes it was well worth the effort doing it. If we have the same amount of olives next year, yes we will do it again, but we do not want to go through another winter like last year!

The BARDAK ZEYTİN YAĞI FAB, Geçitkale is open 7 days a week from early to late.

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