Olive trees have been planted in many parts of Shōdo Island. These olives are ready for harvest in the middle of October every year. Tree branches are hanging down under the weight of the fruit. That cluster of olives looks so delicious…
However, as they are too bitter, these delicious looking fresh olives cannot be eaten as is… But, by pickling them to create “Olive no Shinzuke” the bitterness is removed! They say that once you try these pickles, you are sure to be addicted to their fragrant juicy flavor.
Marking its 100th anniversary in 2008, olive cultivation has a long history on Shōdo Island. In 1908, the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce chose 3 prefectures (Mie, Kagawa, Kagoshima) as locations for an olive tree planting trial. The Ministry imported trees from America, but only Kagawa (Shōdo Island) was able to cultivate them successfully. Set to gain steam over the next 100 years, the island’s olives are processed into olive oil, art objects, and cosmetics, among other things. But if you want to taste the original flavor, fresh-from-the-tree olives pickled in salt are the best.
Imported olives are, generally speaking, fermented in lactic acid and can sometimes taste sour compared to fresh olives. The difference between foreign-grown olives and Shōdo Island-grown olives is definitely a question of freshness. As you can imagine, canned olives and olives pickled in salt within 46 hours of picking taste totally different.
Removing bitterness from freshly picked green olives by hand is really time consuming. For instance, the water has to be changed several times a day, even in the early morning and/or in the middle of the night.
Local elementary school students learn the pickling process in food education class. Feeling the island’s season with their palates, they also eat olives for lunch at school.
In addition to oleic acid, olives contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Pop one in your mouth, and let the fresh aroma of fruit and the rich olive oil flavor tickle your taste buds.
Shōdo Island’s “Olive Harvest Festival” is being held at Olive Park between October 1st and November 20th, 2014. Experience olive picking, and sample dishes cooked with olives (both are free, but reservations are required). There’s also an oil balm workshop, and Shinzuke pickles are available to order at some stores.
Shōdo Island Olive Park:
Address: 1941-1 Nishimura, Shōdoshima-chō, Shōzu-gun, Kagawa
Website (Japanese): http://www.olive-pk.jp/
Vaccum-packed ‘Olive no Shinzuke’ store:
Inoue Seikoen (Japanese): http://www.inoueseikoen.co.jp/
Tōyō Olive: http://www.toyo-olive.com/
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Naomi Hochi
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