Lots of you have asked many times how is the olive oil production process. Well… even though it is much better to live the experience than reading about it, today we will try to explain you the process of olive oil making. You can always discover it by yourself on our Olive Oil Tour, though 😉.
The olive oil production process has not changed too much over the years, only the tools have changed to save efforts and time.
Well, now imagine that your family have owned an olive tree plantation (olivar) for centuries just like Cipriano’s family. What would be the process you would follow?
Olives must be harvest from the trees at the optimal ripening moment. That is to say, when most of the olives are ripe.
There are different methods of harvesting olives, where most common is the hand harvesting. It consists on picking the olives by hand and also with rakes, and leave them fall into a net laid around the tree or haging from it.
Other method is to pick the olives by shake. With this one, the branches of the olive tree are shaken either manually or with a machine, which makes the olives fall into a net laid on the floor.
One of the most common process and the one we explain in detail on our Olive Oil Tour is the one called ‘vareo‘. On this one, the branches are hit with a stick called ‘rod’. This make the olives drop on a fabric that covers the area around the olive tree.
Some farmers prefer to leave the olives until they are all ripe. This means that the quality of the olive oil won’t be exceptional but can be profitable for them as they will obtain more kilos of olives. For this reason, sometimes farmers also pick the olives directly from the floor.
Transportation and receiving
Once all the olives are harvest, we will take them to an olive mill to be processed. This must be done in a short period of time, maximal 24 hours after the harvest. To avoid beating or damage of the fruit, transportation is done in individual baskets or boxes.
Cleaning and washing process
At the olive mill, the olives will be on the first place cleaned from branches, stones or any other rests on a conveyor belt. They will be washed with potable water to remove them from traces of dirt and dust and later clasified into groups, according their quality or even their variety.
The olives must be milled the same day of the harvest (within the next 24 hours) to avoid the fermentation and oxidation of the fruit.
This process consists of a hammer or stone grinder that breaks up the vegetable tissue and releases oil to obtain a homogeneous paste.
Churning and extraction
This paste is then cold pressed to remove the oil and vegetable water from the olives, or it can also be beaten at room temperature and then centrifuged to obtain oil, vegetable water and pomace, as a result of the difference in density.
The water is separated from the oil either by natural decantation or by vertical centrifuges, to avoid altering the quality of the oil.
Obtainment and storage
Then the olive oil, can be stored in stainless steel tanks, in the dark and at a soft and constant temperature above 15ºC. This is made to avoid rancidity or clouding, until its later bottling or packaging to be sold to the consumer.
As for the semi-finished product, or low quality oil should be treated as it has suffered some alteration in quality and are not suitable for direct consumption should be refined.
Once you know a bit more about the olive oil process, for sure you will love to make a visit to an olive oil mill and taste some delicious olive oil, don’t you? Once you get into the olive oil and know all its properties, you will not be the same, we promise.
Here you can book our Olive Oil Tour, where you will have the chance to visit a small and exclusive olive oil mill that produces an extraordinary olive oil (and you will have the chance to buy their products there!) and also if you would like to buy some fresh delicious virgin extra olive oil online, we can recommend you Los Romanes olive oil, a local brand we love!
Become an expert of olive oil and above all, improve your quality of life!