The best time depends on the olive variety, location, and growing conditions.
I'll attempt to summarise these into a decision making points. You will then be in control of when to pick your olives!
- All olives start green on the tree and turn black as they ripen.
- The earlier the pick the firmer the olive will be when you eat it.
- Greener olives will usually have lighter nuttier flavor to black.
- Some varieties are best picked green, others black.
- Climate pays a big impact, the picking season in the North of New Zealand is March, and July in the South.
- An Olive Tree does not colour uniformly
So knowing as much as possible about your tree, the kind of fruit it grows, and what you want to do with the olives (eg eat green olives, black olives, or a colour mix is also OK to do) will set you on the right path for deciding when to pick your olives.
You can then cure your own olives using this kit.
Tip for Green Olives: Free stone is a technique to help decide when to pick green olives.
Slice the Olive through the center and twist each half. When it comes apart cleanly the olive is ready to pick.
This usually requires big olives to be successful.
Olives of any other colour will require a guestimate using a combination of the above points and pick to suit that.
Have fun with your olives!