Although Olive Oil production has been around for centuries, no longer do we see donkeys pulling enormous stone wheels around in circles. Although a very romantic idea evoking the old world sense tradition hard work, most olive oils today are produced in clean rooms, with some extremely high tech equipment.
Although modern equipment is often extremely complex and overwhelming the benefits are incredible. The modern processes are highly dependent on controlling temperatures, filtering waste and contamination out and ensuring the final product is of the highest quality. All in all this allows presses to produce superior oil that is healthier and is available to consumers at a much lower price, and that is something that benefits everyone.
Enjoy this video which takes you on a tour of our olives being pressed. The major steps are outlined below also.
1. The cleaning process
First and foremost, once the olives arrive at the press they are cleaned. The stems, leaves, twigs, and any other debris or dirt are removed via sinking in a water bath or being blown away by a large blower. After this step we are left with nice and clean olives to make our oil.
2. Grinding the olives
Similar to the old world donkey and stone wheel mills, the olives are crushed into a thick paste to help release the oil from the fruit. Crushing the fruit helps to release the oil from its cells, the technology used in this step varies, but as one can imagine any progression from the stone wheel would be a welcomed one.
3. Malaxing (mixing) the paste
Malaxing or mixing the paste for a fixed time helps to collect the oil from smaller droplets into larger ones. This is a vital step in which gives the oil its quality, texture and flavor.
4. Separating the oil from the solids
Turning the paste into oil used to be done with presses, layering many sheets covered in paste on top of each other and “pressing” the oil from the paste. This is where we heard the terms “first cold press” etc… Modern methods have improved with the introduction of centerfuges, the paste is introduced into a centerfuge ( multiple long cylindrical tubes that spin at high speeds.) As the paste spins, the oil, and any water is separated into large tanks or barrels.
5. Filtering and additional processing
At this step of the process we are left with a highly pure product, one which is generally very green and often still quite heavy with sediment. This “raw” oil in most cases must sit for some time to let the organic matter settle out. The raw oil has a very leafy or earthy smell which many people love, and which also adds considerable to the flavors of food. The downside to the raw oil is that it is often quite “merky” and inconsistent. To help with this all our oil is introduced to a filter which removes any excessive sediment and polishes the oil to a beautiful green & golden colour.
This is also the step in which many presses add a variety of different additives, preservatives or enzymes to try and increase their yield and in turn their profits. As we stood by at the press, we made sure no additives of any sort were put into our oil.
It is also important to note that many olive oils from around the world are being bottled from Olive Oil “pools” or large centers. These pools are generally a mix of oil of varying quality, various regions or countries and flavors. Its very important to stay away from brands that label their oil as “blends” as they typically have additives, dye’s and are in essence not pure. Ideally you don’t mix your wine, why mix your oil?
As our oil comes from neighboring farms we know exactly where each and every olive comes from, which allows us to take pride in our oil down to the last drop. Being involved in every step of the process helps us ensure our oil is of the highest quality.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us.