The way and time of olive picking significantly influence the quality and taste of olive oil, therefore they are very important factors for the production of first class olive oil, oils of extra virgin category. The ripeness of olives depends on breed, temperature, number of sunny days and watering. The oil, picked at the exact moment when the fruit just begins to ripen, will have fresh taste. Depending on the breed, such oils will sometimes be bitterish, but that is a positive feature of olive oil. Bitterness is given by phenolic compound, oleuropein, a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effect. The same goes for the piquant taste given by antioxidants and phenolic compounds and this is why more piquant oils have greater effect on health. To conclude, any virgin oil has to be a bit piquant and bitterish and it has to have noticeable freshness and fruitness.
Olives can be picked by hand or by machine. Hand picking olives lasts longer, but it is better because the harvest can be bigger for up to 20%. This way of harvesting also gives the oil of better quality because the olives are less damaged during the harvest. Any damage of the fruit will reduce the final quality of the oil. Like the apple that falls on the ground and starts to rotten on the damaged part, it is better for olives to come undamaged to the oil factory. Therefore it is important to have as little time gap as possible between harvests and processing, the best would be to process olives on the same day they are picked. Olive picking takes place in Olea Dalma olive orchard from mid October to mid November, and is an interesting event. Picking is not hard; it takes place on fresh air along with a chance to learn about olive growing. Harvest is the most interesting event in a year, a ritual accompanied by sublime joy and feeling of excitement caused by harvesting the fruits and processing the olives into precious liquid. Most of the participants wish to repeat the experience next year, so the olive picking has become a part of tourism.