Olive Picking in Wardija: The Journey of Bidni Olive Oil

Olive Picking in Wardija: The Journey of Bidni Olive Oil

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This is one of the most exciting articles for me, personally, ever since I became wildly curious and fascinated with the Bidni Olives of Malta. Ever since our olive interview last year with Sammy Cremona, where we got to see olives that were already harvested and pressed into oil, I have been on the hunt to find a Bidni orchard and watch as olives are harvested from the trees.

First, allow me to introduce you to the Bidni olive. These little power-packed olives are native to Malta only. They are extremely high in antioxidants and polyphenols and very low in acid. For this reason, they are olives with some of the highest health benefits of any olive in the world. There is currently research being done on using these olives to fight chronic illnesses. The thing about the Bidni besides that they are carbon-dated to go back more than 2,000 years to the Roman Empire, is that they are much smaller in size than other olives. Because we didn’t know better, many farmers destroyed their Bidni olive trees and planted other olive oil trees that would offer more bang for the buck. Now that we are learning just how healthy and valuable these olives are, they are making a strong comeback.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to join the Grima Family Olive Oil Orchard and the Mediterranean Culinary Academy as they offered their special event: Branch to Bottle. This event only happens on a Freitag-Sonntag for two weeks only out of every year when the olives are the perfect ripeness. Groups sign up to come to the farm and learn about the Bidni olives and help pull the olives from the trees. They get a tour from the farmers themselves, Joseph and Immanuel Grima where they teach about the Bidni Olive Trees and how the oil that they make with the Bidni olive is a monocultivar extra virgin olive oil. This means that no other olive varieties go into the MCA bottles of Olive Oil that the Grima Family Farm provides. Usually, with most olive oils, they are a blend of a few different varieties of olives. With the Mediterranean Culinary Academy or MCA BIDNI bottles that they created with Joseph and Immanuel, there are no other olive oil varieties in their bottles of oil.

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Foto: James Bianchi

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Foto: James Bianchi

Immanuel showed us the magnificent Bidni trees and explained that Februar is when they prune the trees each year cutting most of the middle out and pruning the branches into an umbrella shape. This allows the leaves and olives to get as much exposure to the sun as possible. The trees are also spaced out 20 feet or 5×5 meters to make sure that all the branches and leaves are able to be in direct sunlight and not under the shadows of other branches from neighboring trees. I feel like the olive trees are much like us in that way. We all need our own space to feel the sun and to be able to grow without limitations. We all need fresh air and not too much wind. We all need strong roots that can withstand the weather changes as they come. There is much to be learned from these sacred jewels of the island.

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Following the group’s tour and harvesting as many olives as they possibly could, they were led down to an open area where two long and gorgeous tables were waiting for the group. The chefs from MCA then proceeded to serve a three-course meal along with unlimited wine and olive oil. We spoke with Kurt Mifsud, founder of the Mediterranean Culinary Academy. He led us through their event and showed us a sneak peek into their makeshift kitchen where are few of their incredible chefs, including one of my personal favourite chef/ instructors, David Vella, was preparing the dishes.

If you read this article and are sad to have missed such an event, there are still events such as this at other farms coming up; including one of our other interview partners, Vincent’s Eco Estate. Be sure to

look around and see who might still be harvesting olives and what fun things you might get to do here during the olive oil season! This is a most special time of year both for farmers and visitors. But it’s a short season where the olives for oils and grapes for wine come into their season quickly and then move on to fulfill their destiny of becoming some of the world’s best oil or wine!

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