How extra virgin olive oil is made
Extra virgin olive oil is made simply by crushing the olive fruit to extract the oil. It is a very old process with evidence of olive cultivation and pressing for oil from thousands of years ago, and while equipment and technology is updated, the premise remains the same in the process. Crushed olives.
Here is how extra virgin olive oil is made in our oil mills now.
All the freshly picked olives are delivered to the mill the same day they are collected from the tree’s. It is essential that they are pressed within 24 hours of picking as soon as they are picked they will start to degrade. Quite simply, if they are not pressed within 24 hours, it will not be extra virgin olive oil.
When they arrive at the mill, the olives are poured into a sorting bin to remove the excess foliage, leaves, twigs, that is collected along with the fruit during harvesting. Although the mill's technology has certainly updated from the ancient olive stones, there is a still a by hand aspect to it. Here you can see at Aleandri mill, extra foliage being picked out during the process.
The olives are then washed. The are sent along a conveyor and jiggled around to remove any dirt and ensure they are perfectly clean before they are crushed and pressed to the oil.
Now is the first step of extracting the oil from the olives. All the olives are crushed and mixed to release the oil from the fruit. This process is called "malaxation", where the mulched olives are churned which allows all the small droplets of oil to release and come together. After this the aggregated oil is much easy to separate from the top and the rest is pressed out from this first pomace.
This below is the crushed olives, it is continuously turned to release as much of the oil contained inside the olives.
The main part of this sediment, the flesh of the olive fruit, is removed during the pressing process and the remainder is filtered at the end. Here is the foliage removed and the sediment (we know it's not that attractive!). Although this may seem like such a waste, actually it is used for alternative energy sources and composting, so when done well like this is a circular and sustainable process.
The final stage now is separating the oil and the water that is in the olives. This done through a centrifuge to separate it, the water is drained away and then the final product flows out. The extra virgin olive oil.
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