Why Olive Oil?
It seems that despite our extraordinary advances in science, we find ourselves realizing that some of the simplest practices of our ancestors are the key to leading healthy and fulfilled lives. The Mediterranean diet is a perfect example of just that. Gathering around a table with family and friends to enjoy the day’s fresh catch with some garden vegetables and of course some quality olive oil isn’t too complicated.
Olive oil is mainly comprised of monounsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil has immense effects in deseases like diabete, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases,stomach, pancreas and skin. Antioxidants are key to strengthening the immune system and protecting the body from the damaging effects of free-radical molecules.
Olive trees require cold winter to achieve normal blooming and fruiting.
Particularly cold springs will negatively impact harvest by delaying blooming and increasing flower abnormalities. Temperature shouldn’t be too hot, or too cold or too constant. If you have ever heard about the saying “the Mediterranean ends where the olive tree no longer grows”, which can be capped by saying that “There where the sun permits. the olive tree takes root and gains ground”. For this reason our location in the Mediterrenian has the perfect conditions for a better growth of olives.
One of the keys of our excellence is choosing the perfect time to harvest the olives by identifying the right level of maturity with a healthy looking, a good size and color of the fruit. All olives start out green and then gradually become rosy and finally black. Depending upon the type of oil we are making, a combination of all three may be used for milling. Traditionally, picking olives is done by hand. Then they are placed in plastic crates and are transferred directly to our fabric.
Cleaning the olives
The first step in the oil extraction process is cleaning the olives and removing the stems, leaves, twigs, and othersleft with the olives. The olives should be washed with water to remove pesticides, dirt, etc. Rocks and sand will damage a hammermill and quickly wear out a centrifugal decanter or oil separator, reducing life span from 25 to as little as 5 years. It is amazing, and sometimes entertaining, to see what can be found in the bins with the olives. Light contaminants are removed by a heavy air flow (blower) and heavy objects sink in the water bath.
Grinding the olives into a paste
The second step is crushing the olives into a paste. The purpose of crushing is to tear the flesh cells to facilitate the release of the oil from the vacuoles. This step can be done with stone mills, metal tooth grinders, or various kinds of hammermills.
Mixing the paste for 20 to 45 minutes allows small oil droplets to combine into bigger ones. It is an indispensible step. Contrary to others that heat or add water to the paste during this process to increase the yield, we don’t apply this method because it results in lowering the quality of the oil. The most common mixer is a horizontal trough with spiral mixing blades. Longer mixing times increase oil yield but allows a longer oxidation period that decreases shelf life.
Separating oil from water and solids
The next step consists in separating the oil from the rest of the olive components. This is done by centrifugation. Centrifuges separate the oil, the water, and the solids separately. In most cases, the oil coming out of the first centrifuge is further processed to eliminate any remaining water and solids by a second centrifuge that rotates faster. The oil is then left in tanks or barrels where a final separation, if needed, happens through gravity. This is called racking the oil. Finally the oil can be filtered, if desired.
Second only to the quality of your oil, presentation is critical to success. We never underestimate the value of image, especially when introducing a new olive oil on a retail shelf already crowded with options. And remember the old marketing axiom “A good looking package can always sell a product once but the content is what determines repeat sales”.
We know that through innovation and respect in both the cultivation and the environment in our production process we can contribute to a perfect product of highest quality for the consumer.