Last year we lost nearly all of our olive crop from both our trees to olive fly attack. This year I contemplated treating the trees for the first time with toxic chemicals which are apparently necessary to prevent these attacks, but I decided against it because our trees are just too near our vegetables and I wouldn’t want our other crops to be contaminated. So we thought we would risk it. The crop is very small this year, especially on our Lucque tree, because of a strange occurrence of small fruits dropping shortly after setting in the spring, something which has happened to other people’s olives in this area too. Because of this, today I picked a total of 26 olives from our Lucque tree. Such a small crop, but at least they are all undamaged.
This is the first time I’ve picked them when they’re still green – in previous years they’ve been left on the tree to ripen – but this variety seem to go a bit mushy when they are cured as black olives. They are used for oil when they’re black, but for table olives I think it’s better to pick them when they’re green. I’ve packed these into a jar with a lot of sea salt to draw out the bitterness.
The Lucque variety originated in Lucca in Italy but has become one of the most popular varieties in this area of the Languedoc. Unlike other olives they have almost crunchy flesh, a delicate crisp flavour and a distinctive pointed shape to the fruits.
Our other tree, of unknown (or forgotten) variety, has a lot more olives on it, and I picked a few of these today. The rest can stay on the tree to ripen, even at risk of being attacked by the olive fly, although I think the time for that has now passed.
We’ve been picking more figs, too, and making another eight jars of jam.
We’ve also been lucky enough to be given a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s delicious new book, Jerusalem, and for lunch today Lo Jardinièr made some stuffed vegetables inspired by their recipes.
The peppers and aubergines, picked from the garden this morning, were stuffed with a mixture of minced veal, bulghur, chopped almonds and sun dried tomatoes. The aubergines were baked in the oven while the peppers were cooked in tomato sauce. They were as tasty as they were colourful. We’re off on a short holiday in a couple of days’ time but when we get back I’m looking forward to cooking some of the recipes from this book.