Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, October 17, 2011

Making Olive Oil at the Jerusalem Center

If from reading my blog, especially the last few days, it seems to you like we are REALLY busy here . . . well, you're right! We went to Eilat yesterday, had an intense field trip this morning, and then today we took the first steps in making olive oil.  Last Wednesday we gathered the olives that grew on the dozens of trees that we have here on the grounds of the Jerusalem Center, and starting midafternoon today we began the process of making olive oil by washing, crushing, and then pressing the olives that we picked last week.  Watch the highlights video below first, and then there are pictures and video clips of each of these steps below.  You can see more pictures and clips on Samuel's Page, since this ended up being a center activity that my son, Samuel, really enjoyed.  [Remember that pages are just opposite of posts: the newest posts always appear at the top of a blog, but additions to a page appear at the end, so you will need to scroll all the way to the bottom of Sam's page to see his pics and clips]

After the olives were washed in a large vat, they were scooped pit with strainers and put into buckets.  Students and the faculty children took turns pouring the olives into a large stone basin over which a large crushing stone was rolled over them, crushing them into a mash.

Three of the faculty daughters, including my Rachel, take a turn

Samuel pours olives into the crushing basin

The crushed olive mash is shoveled into burlap bags that are then stacked in either a screw press or a lever press.  The intense pressure squeezes the olive juice out of the mash.  It then runs into a catching basin and then in succession into two round holes or receptacles.  The receptacles are partially filled with water, so the sediment sinks in the water while the oil floats.  The partially-purified oils runs off the top of the first receptacle into the second, where the remaining impurities sink and the oil rises.  It is later skimmed off and clarified.

Here is a video combining clips of the various stages of the process:

As the pressing continued, we took turns going back to continue to crushing process.  In addition to the students, the faculty families also joined in.

The Ludlow Family takes a turn with the crushing press

The faculty boys, including Sam Man, push the beam

And then it was my family's turn!

Samuel really enjoyed this

Margaret and Elaine give it up, but Janet Skinner and Jen Harper keep pushing
Olive production was a major ancient activity. For Christians, however, the process provides a vitally important metaphor for the first stages of our Lord's atoning sacrifice.  Gethsemane literally means "place of the olive press."  When we think of the crushing load that Jesus took upon himself---bearing the weight of our sins, sorrows, and pains---and how this weight literally pressed the blood out of every pour, some of the images I have just shared may take on new meaning to you.

Elaine and I share a testimony that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins, pains, and sorrows.  This caused our Lord to suffer and bleed from every pour in Gethesmane.  He then went to Calvary and died for those sins, pouring his blood out upon the cross.

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