How is great Extra Virgin Olive Oil Made? January 05 2015

 

Creating some of the World's Best Extra Virgin Olive Oils is like creating some of the world's best wines or spirits. It is a dance between the perfect growing conditions, choosing the right moment to harvest and the dance to masterfully choose all aspects of Milling within hours of picking.  

This is what beautiful Extra Virgin Olive Oil is. Once you savour its subtle nuances and discover its magic when paired with the perfect food, you will never go back to anything else. The rest is just olive oil and most of what we get placed in front of us is.

Creating these truly special oils doesn't just happen.

These oils start where all good products begin, on the farm.

 

*This is a photo of The Fiore Estate in Umbria Italy. This farm produces beautiful Domenica Fiore Extra Virgin Olive Oils.

 

The land you choose is important for it's natural predisposition to growing good olives. Do the trees receive lots of sun, what is the altitude, is there enough rain, too much rain?

Then you need to choose the olive cultivars, this decision will affect generations to come if you choose wisely. How many varieties will you grow, how far apart will they be spaced, how will you havest? mechanically or by hand?

Once you have invested in the farm, the trees, the irrigation... you wait for several years. Then the trees create fruit and each year is a time capsule treated individually, in order to make the best possible oil you can with what you have in front of you.

Like grapes the soil affects the fruit, the rain, or lack, or too much, the olive fly, any diseases that come to your grove that year and if all the stars align and the Gods smile on you and give you a year filled with heavy trees  you select the perfect time to harvest your beautiful healthy crop.

Then........

You must start the hard work of gently, carefully, lovingly picking the perfect olives from the trees avoiding bruising and damaging them as you get them into boxes with good air circulation and very quickly getting them from the grove to the mill to avoid them from heating up too much and starting to ferment. Your window is literally hours.

Once at the mill, all the leaves and twigs, stones or dirt needs to be cleaned and separated from the olives. The miller needs to determine the maturity level of the fruit, the moisture content of the fruit and how he will operate the machinery to get the best from the product he has. If they do a good job at bringing the cleanest fruit, they can choose to by-pass the washing of the fruit which can save some of the natural polyphenols which are powerful anti-oxidants contained in the fruit. Then the fruit and pits will be crushed to form a paste, if the fruit is too wet the millers job will be more difficult to separate fruit from oil. Once crushed the paste goes into a malaxer or mixer. This process is once again at the watchful eye of the Miller to determine the malaxation time and at what temperature he must use to essentially take a paste that has oil which is dispersed in water and convert it into a paste that is water dispersed in oil. Malaxation mixes so the oil droplets gather over time with other oil droplets to create more oil. It is also in this process where the oil creates its aromas and phenols.

*This is a Malaxer from the Olive 2 Bottle Mobile Serves  owned by Temecula Olive Oil in California.

Once this is at the perfect stage according to the Miller then it will be pumped into the decanter which is a machine that separates the solids from the water and oil and a centrifuge then separates the final oil out. 

 

*This is a Carli Mill near Imperia, Italy.

Once the oil is out it needs to settle for 24-48 hours and then it can be filtered or ideally left in a settling tank for approx. 45 days to naturally allow any sediment to settle and be removed. If this natural settling occurs then the oil does not need to be filtered which means it retains much of its vital lifeforce. Then it is bottled in dark glass or metal bottles which maintains its freshness for as long as possible.

Taste!

Taste is another thing! There are so many choices from countries all over the world. Like wine Olive Oil can be superb, mediocre and down right terrible. There are single cultivars and beautiful blends and just cause it says Extra Virgin Olive Oil doesn't always mean it is.

If it costs $2.99 a litre I am pretty sure it's not Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Learn who are your trusted suppliers and how your Extra Virgin Olive Oil made. The good ones are proud to show you!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the fresh pressed juice of olives....that's it! Nothing added. It is an oil that meets a few criteria if they sent it to a lab and it can't have any defects in the oil. The END.

A smart man said to me last summer "if you are growing olives because you think you are going to make lots of money selling olive oil....plant almonds!" The people who do it and lovingly create some of the best oils do it because they love this product not because it's easy.

Discover what exceptional Olive Oil really tastes like!