Planet Olive

What happens inside the olive

These pictures, taken by Giorgio Sorcinelli, portray olives at different stages of maturity. There are various methods to estimate their degree of ripeness. One of the most popular is the so-called Jaen index. Many scientific investigations concur that there is an optimal maturity level for every variety, offsetting the sensory features and aromatic profile of the olives, as well as their phenolic composition

Lorenzo Cerretani

What happens inside the olive

Giorgio Sorcinelli, as you can clearly see, has portrayed for us the olive harvest. His pictures witness the emotions inside the farmers’ hearts after months and months of hard work in the fields. At last, after carefully monitoring the various stages of development, the time has come to harvest the olives and taste the new oil.

The pictures depict olives at different degrees of ripeness. Some are bright green, clearly unripe, others are starting to turn colour, whereas others are fully ripe, and both their skin and flesh are a dark purple.

There are a number of methods commonly employed to assess the ripeness of olives. One of the most popular is the so-called Jaen index, ranging from 0 (hard, green olives) to 7 (fully ripe). 

Many scientific investigations concur that there is an optimal maturity level for every variety, offsetting the sensory features and aromatic profile of the olives, as well as their phenolic composition.

Precocious varieties, whose flesh becomes soft as they mature, accumulate greater amounts of oil early in the season, but only if these two phenological stages occur under favourable climatic conditions. Late cultivars on the other hand accumulate most oil when the skin of the olives is only starting to turn a darker colour and their flesh is still firm, but the process continues as long as the weather conditions allow it.

The biochemical composition of the olive, the changes that take place during its maturation and the time of harvest are three critical elements that must be taken into due account to highlight the quality and optimise the quantity/quality ratio of extra virgin olive oils.

Photo by Giorgio Sorcinelli

Lorenzo Cerretani

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