Can you please tell us when to pick the black olives? We did not realise there was any fruit on the tree as it had only fruited once before - about 14 years ago. Now we notice there are hundreds of shrivelled olives - are they not yet ready or are they over ripe?
Unlike many other fruits, the different colors that olives come in are due to the ripeness of the fruit, not the variety. Most olives are ready to harvest when the juice turns cloudy, at the “green ripe” stage in late September. They ripen to an uneven reddish-brown through November, finally darkening to the “naturally black ripe” stage by early December. Olives in this stage have a high oil content and are easily bruised. If harvested for eating they need to be handled with care; handpicking is essential as damaged fruit will usually not survive the curing process.