Throughout the centuries, little changes have been introduced to the traditional harvesting of olives process in Portugal. Harvesting is during the cold season, between November and February. In fact, traditional harvesting is still hand made with men standing on ladders beating the branches and women, near the trees, draw out their covers where olives then fall and are later picked up and put in baskets.
Modern harvesting of olive oil in Portugal could be as high as 765,000 tons in 2016. Although olives are cultivated in several different regions of Portugal, the high output expected this year is mainly from the Alentejo region in south Portugal. Alentejo is the largest and most important region for olive production and produces about two-thirds of the country’s olive oil. Although there are more than 30 varieties of olives native to the country, the most common varieties cultivated for olive oil and table olives are Galega, Cobrançosa, Cordovil, Verdeal, Madural and Carrasquenha.
Six regions are distinguished with the “Protected Designation of Origin Certificate” for production of olive oil, three — Azeite do Norte Alentejano, Azeite de Moura and Azeite Alentejo Interior — are in the Alentejo region. The remaining three regions are Azeite de Trás-os-Montes, Azeite do Ribatejo and Azeite da Beira Interior. Although not as well-known as olive oils from Spain, Italy and Greece, 22 Portuguese olive oils were recognized among some of the world’s best at the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition.