We are surrounded by them in Portugal. Olives appear on tables in restaurants and whn visiting friends; olive trees can be seen everywhere especially in rural areas and olive oil is used liberally in Portuguese cooking.
Olive Oil (Azeite) - Portuguese olive oil is aromatic, fruity, intensely flavoured and rich in colour. It is also cholesterol free and so a healthy choice for cooking.
Olives (Azeitonas) - Cured olives accompany nearly every meal in a traditional Portuguese home. Many are cured from their own olives picked in late autumn for their olive trees.
You will see olive groves dotting the landscape throughout Portugal, which can be anything from 10 hectare fields to a few trees in a family’s garden. Oil and cured olives are widely produced throughout Portugal.
Cured olives are normally soaked in water, salt and oregano, or to a special family recipe. Olives are taken to the Olive Presses between September and December for grinding and filtering into Olive Oil. Most villages will have a press within a few kilometres.
If you are going to get your own olives pressed, unless you take around 300Kilos, your bags will just be swapped for oil that has already pressed from someone else’s olives. If you are only pressing a small amount, it is best to get it done early in the season as the presses sometimes stop when they have pressed enough. Generally you will get back half the oil and the press takes the other half as payment. In lean production years, however, the press may buy your olives if you don’t want the oil yourself.