I discovered a new health hazard yesterday while walking the dog - olive tree-bashing poles. Sundays are a popular day for heading out to ancestral olive groves and whole families pile into cars and trucks, sticking their 4 meter long poles out of the windows. The drivers then bomb along the village tracks forgetting they have a lethal weapon projecting sideways. After narrowly avoiding being swatted, we took to walking in the fields.
I've already processed one jar of windfall olives and we're eating them now, another bucketful of green olives is brewing in the kitchen, the rest will hopefully stay on the trees another month until they turn black. Olives trees only fruit every second season and we don't have many producing trees this year so I've turned my attention to the leaves. In the early 20th century, a bitter compound called oleuropein was discovered in olive leaves and in the past 20 years this substance has undergone considerable research. Initial results show positive results in boosting the immune system against both viral and bacterial attack, promoting increased energy levels, strengthening the cardiovascular system and helping ease aching muscles. As the winter cold and flu season is approaching I've decided to try a bit of self medication and produce my own olive leaf extract. The easiest method is to collect a handful of leaves from trees that haven't been sprayed, chop and infuse in almost boiled water for 5 minutes, strain and drink. The leaves can also be dried and made into tea. I admit it's not a very pleasant taste, but it improved with a teaspoon of honey. The second way is to steep the leaves in alcohol or glycerine. I popped a few handuls of leaves into a blender then pushed them into a clean glass bottle and filled it up with vodka. I'm turning it every day and keeping it in a dark place and after 6 weeks I should have my tincture. Half a teaspoon morning and night seems to be the recommended dose, although tests at over 100 times this amount showed no harmful effects - (maybe not from the olve leaf - but the hangover from the vodka wouldn't be too pleasant). If I can avoid being knocked out by a passing olive pole, I'm hoping to have a healthy winter.