|Magpie Gully is a farm of 65 acres set in the Fleurieu Peninsula which is approximately one and a half hours drive from Adelaide and 30 minutes from Victor Harbor. The 1000 tree olive grove is made up of Manzanillo, Kalamata, Sevillano, Koroneiki and Frantoio olives. At Magpie Gully, Manzanillo and Frantoio are used to produce two distinctly different single variety oils. Kalamata, Sevillano, Koroneiki and Manzanillo are produced for table olives. |
The farm is home to Phil and Mary Beatty and of course Bonnie.
Magpie Gully is situated in the Fleurieu Peninsula which is a ‘coathanger shaped strip of land bounded by water that tempers the region's sunny Mediterranean climate to provide ideal conditions for vineyards and orchards, for all the rural activities that make it, quite literally, a land of milk and honey. Its bountiful produce includes stunning cheeses, olive oil, venison and spring lamb, game birds, yabbies and trout from inland streams and dams, and berries of all kinds.
With its temperate climate, central highlands and coastal fringes the Fleurieu Peninsula offers wine, wildlife and water in delightful abundance. More than 75 cellar door wineries, many with restaurants attached, offer the opportunity to taste some of Australia’s most exciting wines and regional cuisine. Roadside stalls offer the freshest seasonal produce for your picnic baskets including of course first class Australian Olives.
Fleurieu Peninsula is the perfect place to travel with a picnic basket, stocked from the many wayside produce stalls, winery cellar doors and country bakeries. Willunga Market and Victor Harbor Farmer's Market are great attractions in the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Magpie Gully follows the guidelines of olive care, in that we use a catcher wrapped around the trunk of the tree to collect the olives. A Pellenc hand held harvester with long fibreglass fingers is used to knock the olives from the tree into the catcher. This method ensures that the fruit and the tree are not damaged during the process. The olives are then transferred to larger bins kept in cool conditions to protect it from spoilage. The bins are transported to the processor ensuring that the olives are processed within 24 to 48 hours. Fresh fruit is the key to the very best extra virgin olive oil.
The olive grove is yet to reach full maturity, but with the much improved condition of the trees, Magpie Gully has seen it's yields double each year over the last three seasons/harvests.
Olives freshly picked from the tree contain phenolic compounds and a unique glycoside, oleuropein, which makes the fruit unpalatable for immediate consumption. There are many ways of processing olives for table use. Traditional methods use the natural microflora on the fruit and procedures which select those that bring about fermentation of the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration.
Olives should be selected for their firmness if green and general good condition. Olives can be used green, ripe green (which is a yellower shade of green, or green with hints of color), through to full purple black ripeness. The olives are soaked in water to wash them, and drained. 7 litres (which is 7 kg) of room temperature water is added to the fermentation container, and 800 g of sea salt, and one cup (300g) of white vinegar (white wine or cider vinegar). The salt is dissolved to create a 10% solution (the 800 g of salt is in an 8 kg mixture of salt and water and vinegar). Each olive is given a single deep slit with a small knife (if small), or up to three slits per fruit (if large, eg 60 fruit per kg). If 10 kg of olives are added to the 10% salt solution, the ultimate salinity after some weeks will be around 5 to 6% once the water in the olives moves into solution and the salt moves into the olives.
The olives are weighed down with an inert object such as a plate so they are fully immersed and lightly sealed in their container. The light sealing is to allow the gases of fermentation to escape. It is also possible to make a plastic bag partially filled with water, and lay this over the top as a venting lid which also provides a good seal. The exclusion of oxygen is useful but not as critical as when grapes are fermented to produce wine. The olives can be tasted at any time as the bitter compounds are not poisonous, and oleuropein is a useful antioxidant in the human diet.
The olives are edible within 2 weeks to a month, but can be left to cure for up to three months. Green olives will usually be firmer in texture after curing than black olives. Olives can be flavored by soaking them in various marinades, or removing the pit and stuffing them. Herbs, spices, olive oil, feta, capsicum (pimento), chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, wine, vinegar, juniper berries, and anchovies are popular flavourings. Sometimes the olives are lightly cracked with a hammer or a stone to trigger fermentation. This method of curing adds a slightly bitter taste.
At Magpie Gully our olives are traditionally pickled in a brine solution. We begin the process by hand picking the olives and placing them directly into tubs of water to minimise bruising. The olives are then transported in water to our processing shed where they are again washed, sorted and placed into the brine solution for pickling to begin. We don’t slit the olives as this may allow bacteria to enter the fruit, hampering the pickling process. The brine is changed periodically, with the pH and salinity monitored closely. It takes 6 – 8 months to produce high quality table olives. Once the olives are ready for packing into packs, they are washed and sorted again, ensuring that only the best olives are used. Our olives are marinated with chilli and garlic, herb and garlic or natural. No food additives or preservatives are used throughout our pickling process. The olives are packed in a salt brine and vinegar solution topped with extra virgin olive oil.