Olive oil is produced from the fruit of the olive tree. The production process generally involves the following steps:
Harvesting: Olives are harvested either by hand or mechanically, usually when they are still green and unripe.
Washing: The harvested olives are washed to remove any dirt, leaves, or twigs.
Grinding: The olives are washed within hours of harvesting to avoid defects and are then ground into a paste using a machine called a malaxer.
Separation: The oil is separated from the paste by spinning it in a centrifuge. This separates the water and solids from the oil.
Filtering: The oil may be filtered to remove any impurities and improve its taste and stability.
Bottling: The final product is then bottled and prepared for distribution. It is recommended to bottle olive oil in dark or opaque bottles to protect it from light.
The quality of olive oil can vary greatly depending on factors such as the type of olives used, the growing conditions, and the production method. The highest quality olive oil is labeled as "extra virgin," which indicates that it is made from the first cold pressing of the olives and has not been chemically processed or refined.