Blistering Heat, Wild Boars, and Pepper Sauce
It’s been a long summer of blistering heat in Calabria – perfect for olive growing! Olives thrive on dry, hot weather, and we had plenty of it in 2021. Even though the world feels upside down these days, we feel lucky to be grounded in the warm earth and the uplifting feeling of predicting a full harvest and an incredible product. The olives look full and colorful – just about ready for the picking!
Summer is generally quiet on an olive farm. Like all other farmers around the world, we’re dependent on the cooperation of nature to grow the olives into robust, full fruit. Though the heat was truly excessive some days, it should pay off in the quality of our product. Throughout the past few months we’ve been cleaning the trees, tilling the land to avoid weed growth, and rolling the earth to pack down the dirt in preparation for spreading out nets and gathering the olives.
When August approaches, Antonio and Ciccio walk the fields to gauge what kind of season we’ll have. Flowers finally gave way to fruit, and the trees experience a shedding period. Any bad olives fall from the tree, leaving only the healthy, robust ones still hanging. This is an exciting time, because from August on, we can fairly accurately predict the type of harvest we’ll have.
If You Visited us Today in Italy…
If you’d visit the Fratelli Pugliano farm on any given day in September, you’d likely see Ciccio busily cleaning his barrels, bottles, and various tools in preparation for the real highlight of the year: wine making. It’s the love before the labor, the joyful event before the backbreaking one. It’s in this month that we pause from olives and embrace one of our favorite chores of all time; picking grapes for the coming year’s wine. And we aren’t just talking a scrappy few bottles for when company comes over. We’re talking multiple bottles consumed on an average day.
Don’t get us wrong. We aren’t winos; we’re aficionados. Our wine is light-bodied and slightly fizzy, robust with fruity undertones. After years of experimenting, Ciccio came up with his wine recipe perfect for indulging in without being carried from the table in a wheelbarrow.
Funny enough, the furry, tusked wild boars that run wild in Italy love our grapes. But only when they’re ripe; they aren’t as tasty when they’re green, so they wait until the time is right. Under the cover of night they attack the fruit and devour every last one. So, instead of shooing them away with toxic sprays, we are constantly trying various mitigation methods. We lit torches in years past. But these 200-lb pigs would patiently wait until the fuel ran out to sneak into the vineyard, only to be chased back out by Ciccio re-fueling them at 2 AM. This year, in hopes for better sleep, we installed an electric fence to keep the massive critters at bay. We’ll report on how effective it was!
Caterina – the family matriarch – has been making homemade pepper sauce for the upcoming soppressata. Her plentiful garden is flecked by close to a quarter of an acre of various types of sweet and hot pepper plants, grown specifically to cook down into a sauce for the salami. The annual making of the year’s salami, prosciutto, soppressatta, and capicollo (read: butchering of the pig) is an event that you’ll definitely hear more about come spring. There’s nothing like it!
So, for now, we bid you adieu. Stay tuned to hear more about the first ever Novello olive oil that we’re bringing to you in efforts to offer various flavor profiles. This oil will be sassy and strong-willed and rich.
Sounds like some of the best people you know, doesn’t it?