Tunisia Olives from Tree to Table – A Photo Essay

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    Olive orchard in Tunisia

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    Woman raking olives out of tree.

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    The red plastic comb or rake makes it easy to "pick" the olives.

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    A net or mat is laid under the tree to catch the olives as they are raked from the tree.

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    Olives are pushed into large piles then put into bags to be taken away.

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    Some olives are taken straight to the market to be sold.

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    Other olives may be taken to the factory to be pressed into oil.

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    This conveyor belt takes the right amount of olives to the pressing machine.

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    Olives being pressed to extract the oil.

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    The olive oil and mash being captured after pressing.

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    Clear virgin olive oil is poured straight into the olive owner's canister.

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    After a long day working in the orchard, this family has both their olives and the pruned branches.

From tree to end product, this photo essay is all about those delicious olives!

Tunisia olives are world reknown, and surprisingly, it is one of the world’s leaders in olive production. Traveling around the countryside, especially during the olive harvest, you can witness the entire production from tree to market or even to the table.

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From Bizerta to Ichkeul, and from Carthage to El Kef, the roads drive straight through olive orchard after olive orchard. During the harvest, you will see whole families working together to collect the olives, prune the trees, and bring the olives either to market or to the oil press factory.  These families were always friendly and welcoming and we stopped many times to watch the process and take photos.

This was a welcome surprise to us.  We went to Tunisia to visit the ancient sites, eat some delicious food, and of course meet the people.  In the fields and villages, the people couldn’t be more welcoming, but we did run into quite a surprise when stopping to visit the olive oil factory pictured in the slideshow.

The owner immediately walked out, welcomed us, and began telling us about the oil production.  At one point he stopped and asked us what nationality we were, and when we answered “American” he hesitated.  He then said he wanted to harm us because we have such a corrupt and evil government.  He said this laughingly and jokingly, but we knew there was more than a kernel of truth in his words.  We then discussed how people are not the same as the government.  He agreed, gave us a fantastic tour of his factory, introduced us to his wife, and bid us farewell.  It was an interesting experience, and this only happened once the entire time we were in the country, but it did make us think about people and their differing views.  Thankfully, even though this man obviously had no love for America, he treated us with courtesy and kindness.  This we have experienced over and over wherever we travel.

Olives play a huge role in all Tunisian cuisine.  We were happy to be able to witness such a large part of the people’s lives and livelihoods.

Have you been to Tunisia?  Did you enjoy the food?  The sights?  What were some of your favorites?  We’d love it if you share them in the comments.

Tunisia Olives

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