The evergreen olive tree plant with elliptical leaves is very common in the Mediterranean landscape.
The plant is the symbol of the Mediterranean area because it adapts itself to the temperate climate and to the limestone soil in the rocky areas, where there are permeable fertile lands. However the plant can adapt itself to other environmental conditions, except when there are water deposits.
The olive groves have an anarchical structure, whichA� grow well in hilly and mountainous areas.
In fact, the olive tree takes at least 15 years to produce its first fruit and reaches maturation only after 25 years.
The harvest is the most important phase of the olive oil production, which is carried out both manually or mechanically.
The best procedure to safeguard the quality of the oil is called a�?brucaturaa�?. In this process the harvester makes the first selection of the olives.
The next phase is the extraction of the oil in the olive-press.
After the olives are washed and put in a�?frangitoria�?, which grind and pit the olives. To complete the extraction process it is necessary to press the olive paste.
Sicilian olive tree cultivation dates back to the Phoenician and the Mycenaean periods.
Its history has three phases:
- The Romans – encouraged this production;
- The Arabs a�� didna��t cultivate it ;
- The Normans a�� carried out its production.
Among the various types of olives cultivated in Sicily, we can find the a�?Nocellara del Belicea�?, which isA� round shaped and has a high percentage of pulp.
In the past, the olive tree was a precious merchandise and it also had spiritual value because it was used in various religious rites.
The plant symbolises prosperity, which is shown in various works of art. We can find an example of this in the mosaics of Piazza Armerina.
The utensils used for this production maintain A�the old tradition by using the original names. For example a�?giarraa�?, a�?burniaa�? and a�?tumminua�?.
The a�?giarraa�? is a receptacle used to contain the oil; the a�?burniaa�? is a typical clay vase used to conserve the olives and a�?tumminua�? is the unit of measure for the olives.