Making Olive Oil
Since civilization began, production of olive oil has been an essential part of life.
The process has not changed dramatically, although some of the mechanics have been updated. The basics are as follows:
- Pick the fruit
- Crush the fruit
- Separate the liquid from the solids
- Separate the oil from the rest of the liquids
There you have it!!! Very simple and straightforward.
Now in order to produce a high quality extra virgin oil, the process is the same but some attention to detail is necessary.
When to pick the fruit is one of the most important quality decisions that needs to be made. Unlike most fruit, the season for picking olives extends for months rather than weeks or days. When you chose to pick the olives will dictate the flavor of the oil more than the type of olive or where it is grown. Olives picked early in the season (Oct-Nov), when the olives are mostly green, will yield a more robust, "green' flavored oil. Since the olives are not completely ripe at this point, the amount of oil that is extracted tends to be very low. Later in the season (Jan-Mar), the olives turn a darker color and yield much more oil. The oil tends to be much richer and golden with a ripe mellow flavor. Harvesting the olives can be done in many different ways, either by hand or mechanically.
After picking the olives gentle treatment and efficient processing are musts in order to produce the highest quality olive oil. The olives need to be processed within 24 hours or the fruit starts to breakdown and ferment leaving some unpleasant flavors in the oil. The choice of how to process the olives varies from the age old stone mill and press to the more modern centrifugal separators. No matter which method is used, keeping the olives at a low temperature is crucial to success. The final separation of olive oil from the "Fruit -water" is usually accomplished with a centrifuge similar to a cream separator Or by natural oil / water separation.
Now you have a wonderful olive oil that is ready to be enjoyed or it can be filtered or blended with other oils depending on the style or final use.