An early start on a bright and breezy day in a place called Portugal. The first mission was to visit a place neither of us had been to before – an olive oil factory. Growing up in The Caribbean, I’ve used oils my whole life. From being given cod liver oil, castor oil and shark oil as a child and teen to ‘clean out ya system’ every now and then, to moisturizing my skin daily with them to having oils applied on and into my scalp and natural hair consistently then cooking with them, oils have always been in my house and often in hand.
So getting to visit a place where olive trees are grown in abundance and the oil and other products derived from the wood and leaves are produced on site was something to smile about. Here’s a photo tour of the factory in Moncarapacho that manufactures the Monterosa oil brand, and there’s a linked video of the trip at the end of this post.
The drive up to the gated property took us past what seemed like hundreds of olive trees on both sides and up to a large terracotta building with a beautiful view and herbal garden, filled with fragrant rosemary and lavender bushes. The factory sits amidst 15 hectares of land where the olives are picked in autumn by hand and ground to a paste in a stone mill before being extracted, filtered, safely stored and eventually bottled.
The hostess welcomed us in the reception hall and gave us an overview of the process since it wasn’t one of their set tours days. The store section, though small, was filled with not only Monterosa olive oil bottles of different sizes but also different blends, and we sampled the five flavours that went from light to fruity to pungent to peppery and a combo of all aromas. We bought a large bottle (for €11.) that we used on our salads and sandwiches while staying at the b&b and managed to finish the entire thing by the end of our trip, thanks to my hair that was thirsty for it in the sunny but chilly weather.
It takes them 3 months to produce pure olive oil from the time of picking the olives to production of the oil on site. Other offspring products (from the olive tree wood and leaves) in their display cases are:
- cutting boards
- handwoven baskets
- honey spoons
- mini mortars and pestles
- olive oil soaps
The friendly hostess explained that they’re a small working unit but the actual work involved isn’t laborious so it works well for them. While we were there, a lady was working quietly at the bottle labelling machine station.
Knowing where the products we use come from, how they’re produced and the minds behind the process can influence our buying habits. Like looking at vegetables and provisions in the market stand and forgetting they were grown diligently for months on farmland, sometimes we can overlook the time, energy, creativity, investment and incentive it takes to bring something from idea to fruition.
If you’re a regular on this blog – (a) thank you and (b) you know we spent as much time walking around and enjoying the garden as we did checking out inside the factory. The bees were in fine form that day, humming at full volume all through the rosemary and lavender bushes, and a few orange trees decorated the driveways on different parts of the property.
After a stroll around the garden where we paused ever so often to take in the aromas of the thriving herbs, we sat on a wall overlooking the carpark (beside that that bean-looking plant in the third photo above) and took some deep thankful breaths, enjoying the sunshine, view and visit.
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