Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Settler's Olive Tree


With all the nastiness thrown at settlers about allegedly cutting down Arab olive trees, (and emerging proof that the Arabs are the ones cutting down their own trees) I decided to post a personal story about the lone olive tree...at the Muqata.

My 2 oldest kids informed me last week that they were going to pick the olives from our tree. We'd never done it before, and I was too busy to bother. Let them have their fun...

Enterprising as ever, they proudly presented me with their handiwork 2 hours later:



I won't put up any pictures of what our poor tree looked like AFTER they got through with it, but I'm reminded of the Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein (a book I used often as a madrich)


Stuck with buckets of olives at our front door, I was given the job of dealing with the olives. On my way to work this morning, I stopped by a neighboring settlement, Itamar.




Located near Shechem, Itamar is home to the only Jewish-owned olive press in the area -- and it's run by Mr. Barak Melet. In addition to operating the olive press, Barak has his own olive grove and wheat fields -- and he also produces organic flour with his own flour mill. (We use his organic flour for baking matzot on Erev Pesach)


Inside the olive press, I was greeted by many buckets and bags of olives awaiting pressing. (It costs 6 NIS per liter of oil pressed from your olives -- and has an output maximum capacity of close to 200 liters an hour)



The press itself has a panel that controls all the functions of the press.



Barak pouring olives into the press.


Oil dripping out of the press...



And is poured into yellow containers.


Stats:
  • Each tree produces about 5 liters of olive oil
  • You can fit about 75 trees per dunan (100 square meters)
  • Price per liter of oil: 32 NIS.
  • Amount of money possible per dunam: 12,000 NIS (roughly $2800)

What's left of the olives after pressing: (Barak uses this stuff for heating his home)


Leaving Itamar (I had to get to work already!!)





Off to the North was Shechem...in between the mountains.





On my way westwards to route 60, I passed the local IDF base.



And continued on to Road 60...


Mission Complete: Our olive tree provided us with 5 liters of olive oil which we hope to use this coming Chanuka; and if my wife approves, for cooking as well.

The last remaining issue is that I need to take off terumot and massrot (with a bracha). Note: trumot and massrot are taken from the oil, and not the olives.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

49 comments:

Bagel Blogger said...

Now thats got to feel good.

Your own oil!

Think of the confidence the children will have knowing they got the oil for Chanuka.

Shalom Aaron

Visit: Bagelblogger

Ezzie said...

Cool!!

AMSHINOVER said...

since your home is in the disputed area i think maybe your tree is safek chaiv in masser

Irina Tsukerman said...

Those olives sure looked nice. They are not good for eating?

Don Radlauer said...

Congrats on the oil!

I've never tried getting the olives from our tree pressed for oil; I have cured them for eating, with pretty good results. One problem, though, is that our olives tend to get buggy; evidently when an olive tree is watered too much, that's what happens. The options, evidently, are either not to water the olive trees at all (which is how our Palestinian neighbors do it) or else to use some kind of bug spray on them.

If you'd like tips on curing olives (for next year's crop) contact me off-line.


Best,

-DonR

Soccer Dad said...

About a year ago, an Italian blogger did a whole thing on how to make olive oil (from his family's trees.) Unfortunately he stopped blogging. Good to see a reminder, especially as Channukah is coming up.

mevaseretzion said...

Am: Halacha does not follow Olmert or Sharon, or even Begin. It follows what God says is Israel.

Jameel: Excellent post. Your pictures really touched me. I can't wait to visit you soon at home!

Rafi G said...

fabulous. enjoy the olive oil. It is very fulfilling when you do stuff like that on your own, instead of just buying the itme like evrybody else. Amazing.

Robbie said...

I once pressed olives using a centuries-old stone press and a water filter holding tank - for about an hour's worth of work, we got maybe a milliliter's worth of oil.

Your way is much cooler.

David Linn said...

Amazing post! Your kids are fortunate and so are you.

SephardiLady said...

For years my parents had an olive tree in the front yard that grew tremendously and we never knew what to do with the olives (and they made a huge mess when they fell). It is too bad there wasn't a place where you could produce your own oil. How wonderful!

A Happy Chanukah in advance. Please post a pic of your menorah so we can see the result.

Scraps said...

That's so cool! They must feel so accomplished. :)

Anonymous said...

cool 'image' post.
It's a great idea to use that oil Channukah(I don't knwo about teh cooking part though)
Very educational and meaningful.

zionflag said...

Love looking and yearning for the holyland, through your super photos. Tremendous experience for the kinderlach.
1 WRONG info: The tiny yishuv next to shuvut rochel has a wonderful woman, tzaddekis who runs her own olive press (after her husband was seriously injured) and produces some of the tastiest, healthist and yesha oil.

the sabra said...

jameeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel
i miss those places so extremely abnormally a lot much. (uh something like that)
thanks for the photos.
see you soon.
amen.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Wow, great pictures!
And thank God for modern technology :-)

I also like how the olive presser uses the remains for fuel, some great ecological stuff going on in your area it looks like.

A Simple Jew said...

I just showed my four year-old daughter this posting and she really enjoyed seeing the pictures :)

bec said...

that is sooooo cool!!!!!!!!

~ sarah ~ said...

that is very cool. great pictures and story, hope your kids enjoy using their very own olive oil on chanukah.

:)

Anonymous said...

The yishuv where the woman runs the olive press in yesha is called "ACHIA"--a must to visit on anyones next trip to eretz.

Moze said...

Don't forget that as long as you mark it "burning only," you can actually give the oil to a cohen as teruma. We've lit a few Channukahs thanks to non-cohen donations.

Michael said...

That is one of the coolest things I have ever heard. Thanks for sharing that story, and have fun burning the Hanuka oil!

Air Time said...

That is cool. I was wondering why Terumah and Maaser are taken from the oil and not the olives though.

YMedad said...

Since I believe in coexistence, my olive tree olives went to the Arab workers of my neighbor who runs a free range chicken run at Shiloh. But in the new Shiloh indeustrial park, we have the Meshek Achiyah olive press producing tons of olive oil.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YMedad and Zionflag: Meshek Achiya is in Binyamin.

The "area" I was referring to is Gav Hahar and the Shomron...

Yes, I COULD shlep to Shilo...but Itamar is closer ;-)

Amshi: My FIL almost choked when he saw your comment. (I calmed him down :)

AirTime: Dunno. Will have to find out.

Moze: Thanks, didn't know that. (I learn something new every day on this blog!)

(more comments coming soon)

Michael: My pleasure!

Sweettooth120 said...

Thanks for the wonderful photos. I love those kinds of outings, one that we take for granted such as ready made olive oil. It's cool to see the behind the scenes. I once tasted an olive straight from the tree. I am not sure what I thought it would taste like, but I was in for a big surprise - it was extremely bitter and disgusting. Thank goodness for the curing process.

Batya said...

YOu can always go to the Achiya press, which is now in shiloh. Actually they market oil, so maybe they don't take batches.
anyway, this year our tree isn't producing much.

Baleboosteh said...

That must be very satisfying - especially for the kids!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I wish I could do that with my kids. Where they excited to see the fruits of their labor?

RR said...

So, Jameel, are you "branching" out into the olive oil business?

Very cool experience for the kids- and for yourself as well, I imagine!

Oleh Yahshan said...

Now I have to add an olive tree to the list of "My future Garden" I love olives and love Olive oil - and to be able to get olive Oil from your own Garden....

Great post also By the way - great pictures, I miss that area - got to take a trip out there (haven't been there since my days in the Army)

PsychoToddler said...

Cool. My son Curly is an olive fiend.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't have an Viagra to offer. just kudos on a great post.

Check out my post on the Mesha Stone of Moab. Amazing similarities between then and today.

Enjoy.

yaak said...

Must have been quite an experience, Jameel.
Now you can say, "I did it like the Hashmona'im did it."

elchonon said...

Firstly you need word verification.. secondly.. can I be the new olive picker ? wine picker is geting old ;)

Anonymous said...

Just outside of Itamar is this

http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=266875865&size=o

monument to to remember Matan Zagron, of Itamar who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Land of Israel when he threw himself at a suicide bomber, saving many lives, but losing his own.

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Mirlandra said...

Thanks for sharing your story - it was neat to read and learn so much! I'm a long time farm girl and just moved to California and a woman has offered me all of the olives on her tree. Do you know much about picking them? Somebody told me to just shake the tree and they will all fall off . . . Would it be better to pick them by hand? I don't have access to a olive press so I'm just going to try putting mine in a good brine with lots of garlic. I've never done this before, but this is how you learn, I guess :) Anything you know would be helpful!

Blessings, Mirlandra

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