The olive tree, emblem of Provence

The olive tree, emblem of Provence

Provence is well known for its olive trees and olives!
Emblem of Provence, it is found all over the Provençal coast and its fruit is extracted from Provençal yellow gold: olive oil.

Today we invite you to discover the history of the olive tree and the Provençal olive.

Where does the provencal olive tree come from ? 

This emblematic tree of Provence has been present since antiquity, indeed it appeared in a wild form 14,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Then little by little with the sandstone of the conquests the olive tree appeared in the Mediterranean.

He arrived in Provence more than 8,000 years before J-C. a fossilized leaf can be found at the Olive Tree Museum in Nyons. But it was in 600 BC. that the Phoceans introduced the olive tree during the creation of Massilia (Marseille today) and that they introduced the inhabitants to its culture. In the Mediterranean, the olive tree is a source of wealth because it lives on often dry and arid lands which are unusable for farmers.

The olive tree, often associated with the sun, with cicadas, with tasty cuisine, is for many a strong Provençal symbol. It also represents abundance, strength, tenacity and longevity, indeed we can find olive trees that are over 2000 years old!
Moreover, this one will start to give olives only after 8 years and it will produce the most between 35 and 150 years!

The olive tree, despite its sturdiness, needs a little maintenance. First of all, you should know that he likes dry air and not too humid and that below 15 ° C the entire aerial part will die even if possible regrowth may start from the foot afterwards.
Then the olive tree needs to be pruned, especially if you want to have olives from one year to the next because the branches that have produced fruit hardly give any the following year. It will therefore be necessary to prune it every two to three years at the end of winter before flowering in May, indeed the olive tree loving the sun and to help it to give new growth it will be necessary to prune as much as possible the interior branches of the tree.
As the popular saying goes, very explicit: "A bird must be able to cross the branches of an olive tree without brushing it with its wings".

When and how to harvest provencal olives ?

Before being able to produce its olives, the olive tree will flower for a week between March and May. Then, once the flower has been fertilized, they can bear fruit and give the olive.

Then you have to know that there is no olive tree with green olive or black olive. Everything actually depends on the maturation of these.
In fact, for green olives, the harvest will take place earlier (September and October) than for black olives (until the end of December or February).

So once the olive has reached the desired maturity, it's time for picking, or in other words in Provençal: the Olivade. This is usually between September and January and will depend on the geographical location of the olive trees, the variety and what you want to extract from the olive.

The process that turns green olive into black olive is called veraison. This is a process that lasts several months and will change the color of the olive from green to purplish red to dark purple and black.

The green olives intended to be eaten will therefore be harvested before this veraison process, while those used in the manufacture of olive oil will be collected at the start of this process.
As for black olives, they are collected after the veraison process if they are intended to be eaten. On the other hand, for those used to produce olive oil, they will generally be harvested after the first frosts.
Nothing could be simpler to pick them! You will have to spread a cloth or a net under the olive tree, then either by hand or with a rake, you will have to brush the branch to make it fall as much as possible.

But be careful, if you intend to place your olives in a mill to extract the oil, you will have to harvest your olives maximum 48 hours before depositing them, this way you can keep all the quality.

Besides, this is the next step! Once collected, it's direction of the oil mill!

Want to discover the Provencal olive trees? All our holiday villa rentals with swimming pool to enjoy your Provencal holidays!