Autumn - gathering season in Andalucia

There are many activities you can join in with around Andalucia at this time of year, as natural products are harvested in the sunny autumn, as morning mists rise, jumpers are pulled on and fires lit. Nights are chillier as the days get shorter, but daytime is still delightfully warm.
In the Sierra Sur of Seville, you can have a day picking and preserving olives - start off with a breakfast at the farmhouse featuring, you guessed it, olives. Did you know that Spain produces more than 250 types of olives, both for table and to be made into olive oil?

Then you go into the fields with expert pickers to see how it's done - there's a lot more skill to picking olives than just grabbing the fruit off the tree. This process is known as el verdeo.
Later back at the farmhouse you can learn how to prepare and preserve the olives you collected - the aceituna aliña (seasoned olives) of the area is famous.
And naturally, the experience finishes with a tasting of different types of the popular Andalucian speciality, accompanied by wine, beer or other drinks. You can also choose the option of staying to have lunch in the farmhouse - a traditional meal of rice, meat, and pastries.
This activity takes place near the town of Arahal in Seville province - contact Foodies Andalucia for more details.
In November last year I went with my children to see olives being picked, this time to be made into "liquid gold" - otherwise known as olive oil - in deepest Jaen. It was a real eye-opener for me, and fascinating to see the journey from branch to bottle. Those olives were of the picual variety, and I've been a convert to this strong, spicy oil with a (natural) brilliant green colour ever since.

For fungi fans, many towns around the Sierra de Aracena and Sierra de Grazalema offer mushroom-hunting expeditions, and special seasonal menus featuring foraged fungi. Always best to go with an expert, so that the meal cooked with your spoils is safe. One of the hotels in our new Special Hotel Collection, Hotel Castellar, is in prime mushroom-picking territory.
If you prefer just to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labour, restaurants in these hill towns, such as Aracena and Cortes de la Frontera, offer special mushroom menus and tapas routes.
Autumn in Andalucia is also the season for many other delicious natural produce, such as persimmons, figs and chestnuts, many of which have their own local fiestas.
These days it's called agricultural tourism, but really it's just learning about traditional techniques which Andalucians have been using for centuries, to gather and prepare their natural bounty for the table.
Blog published on 15 October 2014