You probably know that people usually pick olives between early September and late November. However, knowing the exact best time for picking olives is essential to get high-quality olive oil.
In this post, I’ll show you how to determine the right time for picking olives.
- The best method to determine if olives are ready to pick is by measuring the olive maturity index.
- Olives are ready to pick when the olive maturity index is between 2.5 and 4.5.
- You can also pick olives if one-third of them are ripe and two-thirds are green.
- The last way to check if olives are ready to pick is if the flesh separates from the pit easily.
Olive Maturity Index – The Best Way
The Olive maturity index is the absolute best way to check whether olives are ready to pick or if you should wait for them to rip even more.
The principle of this method is to determine the olive maturity by the color of the fruit. Olive colors usually range from green to dark purple.
To do this method properly, you should randomly pick 100 olives in total but from different trees. Then, you should sort them into eight categories:
|A||deep green color and hard fruit|
|B||yellow to green color, the fruit is a bit softer|
|C||less than half of the fruit skin is turning purple or black|
|D||more than half of the fruit skin is turning purple or black|
|E||the whole olive skin is purple or black, but with white or green flesh (cut the olive to check)|
|F||the entire olive skin is all purple or black, but with less than half of the olive flesh turning purple|
|G||the whole of olive skin is all purple or black, but with more than half of the olive flesh turning purple|
|H||olive skin is entirely purple or black, and the flesh is purple to the pit|
When you divide them into all of the above categories, you should count the olives in each category and write the number down. Then, we can check the formula to calculate the olive maturity index.
Olive Maturity Index Formula:
- (Ax0 + Bx1 + Cx2 + Dx3 + Ex4 + Fx5 + Gx6 + Hx7) / 100 = OMI
I’ll now show you a practical example so it’s easier to understand.
Let’s say we picked 100 olives from different trees and sorted them into the eight categories above. In this example, let’s say this is the case.
Now we should do the math. Let’s use those data in the formula that I showed you above. So, it would be:
- 2×0 + 11×1 + 20×2 + 31×3 + 26×4 + 6×5 + 2×6 + 2×7 = 304.
- Now divide that by 100. So, 304/100, and the result is 3.04 – Olive Maturity Index.
And that’s how you count the olive maturity index.
To make it easier for you, I have made an OLIVE MATURITY INDEX CALCULATOR. It’s a quick and easy way to get the results without doing math.
What’s a Good Olive Maturity Index (OMI)?
A good olive maturity index is anywhere between 2.5 and 4.5. However, the highest quality olive oil is produced when the olive maturity index is between 3.0 and 4.0, depending on the olive variety.
Personally, I like to pick my olives when the maturity index is around 3.0. I don’t want it to be too low because the fruit won’t give much oil, and it will taste bitter.
Also, I don’t want the maturity index to be too high because the oil quality will worsen, even though the olives will produce more oil per kg of fruit.
2 Additional Ways To Check If Olives Are Ready To Pick
Aside from the olive maturity index, there are also two additional and extremely straightforward ways to check if olives are ready to pick so that you can get high-quality olive oil as a final product. These two ways aren’t as precise as the maturity index, but they’ll also be a good enough sign that your olives are ready to pick.
1st Way – 1/3 Purple and 2/3 Green Olives
This is, so far, the easiest way to find out if your olives are ready to pick or not. Even though it’s not the best, you can still use it as a pre-test before doing an olive maturity test. Even if you completely lean on this method, you can easily choose the right time to pick your olives.
For this method, you should check the fruits on olive trees. They should be:
- 1/3 of olives should be purple or dark
- 2/3 of olives should be green or colorful (green-yellow-purple)
Disadvantages of this method:
- It’s hard to determine the quantity of green, purple, and colorful olives
- Not as precise as the maturity index
2nd Way – Flesh Separates From Pit
The second effortless way to check if olives are ready to pick is by checking how easily the flesh separates from the pit. You should randomly pick 20-30 olives from different trees in order to get the best possible result.
For this method, pick 20-30 olives from different trees, and cut them in half with a razer or any knife:
- If you can easily separate the olive flesh from the pit in most olives, olives are ready to pick.
- If the flesh isn’t separating easily on most olives you picked, you should let them ripe more.
Disadvantages of this method:
- If you choose the “wrong” olives (samples), you can easily be misled that olives are ripe, even though they are not.
I hope that now you when olives are ready to pick for high-quality olive oil. In the end, it all depends on what you want. If you wish to produce high-quality olive oil, you will pick olives that aren’t fully ripe. On the other hand, if you want more olive oil, you’ll pick them when they’re riper.
My advice for you is to combine all three methods I’ve shown you below, with the olive maturity index being the last one to confirm the 2nd and 3rd methods. I always combine more methods to get the best possible result. That way I’m 100% sure that I’ll always get the best extra virgin oil for me and for my family.
It may take some of your precious time, but it’s totally worth it. When you properly count the maturity index and choose the best possible time to pick olives, the oil you’ll get from those olives will be fantastic.
Now that you know this, I recommend you check my post on the best ways to harvest olives. In that post, you’ll learn proven methods on how to effectively pick olives to preserve them but also to save some time.