How Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Made?
It involves a lot more than just squeezing olives!
Step 1: Pick
Step 2: Transport
Step 3: Press
Step 4: Decant
Step 5: Bottle
Extra virgin olive oil comes from one of the most beautiful and ancient plants around: the olive tree. Olive trees can live for thousands of years and are extremely hardy plants.
They are notoriously slow growers and need to grow for several years before they produce any fruit. Yes, olives are fruit.
For example, if you plant an olive tree in 2016 it may not produce fruit until 2022, that’s 6 years!
All olive trees are different and mature in their own time. In addition, not all farmers can harvest their trees every year, some trees only produce an abundance of olives every 2 years.
Everyone knows what extra virgin olive oil is. You can find olive oil in every supermarket and grocery store all around the world.
But how many of you know how a top quality olive oil is made?
The first thing everyone needs to know is that extra virgin olive oil is a juice that comes from crushed olives. Only mechanical means are used to produce olive oil which may vary depending on the technology of the machinery used but the procedure is the same.
Step 1: Pick the Olives
Which is the time that olives should be collected from the olive trees?
The time of the harvest has to be chosen carefully.
Harvest doesn’t always start in the same period. It depends mostly on the weather conditions during summer and autumn. Among other factors, it’s the temperature and the rain that have a significant role to deciding when the harvest begins. The best time to start the harvest is when the olives on the trees start to change colour from light green to dark green or black.
Step 2: Transport the Olives
Step 2 in making extra virgin olive oil is to transport the olives to the press. Olives are heavy and moving them can be a real pain. Locals making olive oil for personal use usually keep the olives in crates, load them into the back of the car, and drive slowly down the highway to the press.Larger companies use forklifts to move the giant half-ton bins into a van, truck, or trailer then transport the olives to the press.
Step 3: Press the Olives
Step 3 in making extra virgin olive oil is the most exciting part: pressing the olives.
Upon arrival, the olives are de-leafed, which means they are put in a machine that removes any stems, branches, or leaves. They then weigh the olives and you’re put in the queue for the press.
Put the Olives into the Hopper
When it’s finally your turn, a forklift dumps the olives into a giant hopper. The hopper is usually in or on the ground to make it easy for the forklift to empty the bin. The olives then move up a belt and into the washer.
Wash the Olives
The olives must be washed before they are crushed. The transportation belt spits the olives into the washer and they are cleaned in water before moving down the line into the slicer.
Slice the Olives
This machine cuts up the olives before they are moved into the crusher to making crushing easier.
Crush the Olives
The slicer moves the olives into a series of grinders that create an olive paste. The olives are continuously crushed until the paste is smooth and consistent, then the olive paste is pumped to the press.
Centrifuge / Extraction / ‘Press’ the Olives
Finally what you came to this post for: the ‘pressing’ of the olives. Olives aren’t actually ‘pressed’ anymore. Advances in technology have allowed us to create machinery that extracts the oil from olives in a more efficient and hygienic way. The crushed olive paste is pumped into a centrifuge: a machine that separates vegetable water from the oil. The centrifuge is a giant steel tube so unfortunately, you cannot see any of this happening. What comes out of this machine is roughly olive oil.
Separator & The Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The newly ‘pressed’ extra virgin olive oil is moved through a series of coarse filters and then to the separator: the machine that separates any remaining water from the oil. The oil is then emptied a stainless steel vat. The oil pours from the large stainless steel vat into a container(s) of your choice for transportation or storage.
Step 4: Wait for EVOO to Decant or Filter
Extra Virgin Olive oil can be consumed immediately after it’s pressed. However, usually, olive oil is allowed to decant or is filtered. Decanting means the oil is left in a tank for several weeks/months while the particles are allowed to settle. Even after the olive oil is moved through the coarse filter at the press there are still many tiny pieces of olive left in the product.
When oil is filtered it is moved through a series of plates that catch these particles of olive and ‘clean’ the oil.
Step 5: Bottle the Oil
It’s time to bottle, label, and ship out our extra virgin olive oil for our customers to enjoy.
At Hellenic Crops, we provide our customers the products they choose, regarding packaging & labelling. We provide vertically all the services so that our final customer has at his store, at his hotel, at his supermarket, ready to sell the product we have co-decided.
Hellenic Crops has 5 inviolable values.
QUALITY - RELIABILITY - SPEED - FLEXIBILITY – COMMUNICATION