Olive oil is known as one of the most versatile cooking oils, and a lot goes into its production process. Learn more about the effort that goes into the production process of olive oil!
- Cultivation and Harvesting:
Olive trees require well-drained soil, a moderate climate, and a long growing season to produce high-quality olives. The trees are carefully tended, and farmers employ traditional and sustainable cultivation practices, like pruning, to promote optimal growth.
Harvesting olives is a labor-intensive process that requires careful timing. Olives are traditionally hand-picked, ensuring that only ripe fruits are collected. However, mechanical harvesting methods are also used, particularly in larger-scale operations. The harvested olives are then transported to the mill as quickly as possible to preserve their freshness and flavor.
- Milling and Extraction:
Once the olives arrive at the mill, they undergo a series of steps to extract the olive oil. First, the olives are carefully cleaned to remove any leaves, twigs, and debris. Then, they are crushed into a paste using stone mills or modern stainless steel equipment.
The paste is gently mixed, allowing the oil droplets to merge and facilitating the separation of oil from other components. This process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
- Separation and Filtration:
Next, the olive paste goes through a press to separate the oil from the remaining solids and water.
Once the oil is separated, it undergoes a filtration process to remove any remaining impurities, ensuring a clean and clear final product. Filtration methods vary depending on the producer.
- Storage and Bottling:
The extracted olive oil is then stored in stainless steel tanks or barrels to allow it to settle and develop. Proper storage conditions, including temperature and light control, are crucial to maintain the oil's quality over time.
When it's time for bottling, producers carefully select containers that protect the oil from light and oxidation. Dark glass bottles or tins are commonly used. Labels with detailed information about the oil's origin, harvest date, and producer are added.
- From Table to Palate:
The process ends when the olive oil is at your table. The vibrant green or golden liquid is not just a delicious addition to salads, pasta, and countless other dishes but also a testament to the dedication and craftsmanship of olive oil producers.