Part III – The Factory
The olives are picked, and now the race to get the juice out of the fruit is on. Yes, we call the Extra Virgin Olive Oil juice, and the olives themselves are the fruit. It’s important to think about olives this way because it helps you understand the importance of picking the fruit and getting the juice extracted as quickly as possible. The slower you do this, the less fresh the juice.
First we put the olives through a wash and sorting machine that sorts away any debris, branches, and also cleans the olives. After that the olives get crushed and go through a malaxer. The malaxation process is essentially a churning machine which turns the olives into a paste. The malaxer we use is a horizontal machine that has spiral mixing blades. The malaxation process can last anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on the size of the harvest.
The next step is the key differentiator between whether your extra virgin olive oil is deemed Cold Extracted or Cold Pressed. Cold Extracted is when the olive paste is put through a centrifuge to extract the oil vs it being pressed, which is literally a machine or heavy object applying pressure to squeeze the juice out. The centrifuge is now an industry standard and a better way to control the heat exposure to the olive oil which is ultimately better for quality. The term “Cold Pressed” is still used to this day because it was the first method for getting EVOO, however now “Cold Extracted” is the norm. The “Cold” part of the process is really not that cold at all, it just means the olives and olive oil does not exceed 27 degrees Celsius or 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the entire process. Lastly, the olive oil spills out into a huge tub for us to see, taste, weigh, and analyze. Just like that, we go from the fields in the morning to tasting the fruits of our labor in the evening.
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What an experience it was to see the people of the town harvesting their olives, coming to the factory, and talking amongst each other about what kind of harvest year they had, what worked for them, what didn’t, and what they are going to do next year. You can imagine how refined this process has become as the creation of olive oil dates back thousands of years. This is why I love the olive oil business, it’s the perfect intersection of tradition, a rich Greek history, simple living, and a quality product.
February 17th, 2022