The production of olive oil is centuries old. No doubt it has become key gastronomic product of the Mediterranean diet. But since then it has considerably evolved, however not all consumers know exactly how the olive oil juice is nowadays extracted. Hence, we want to address this topic and illustrate the olive oil lovers out there on how the extra virgin olive oil is obtain step by step, especially the highest quality olive juice.
How is extra virgin olive oil made: from harvest to packaging.
- Harvest and collection of the olive.
- Storage in oil mills.
- Cold extraction process.
- Analysis and quality control.
- Packaging of the final product.
In recent years, olive oil production has been positively affected by technological developments. This has made it possible not only to facilitate production work, but especially to guarantee the highest quality in the final product. From the harvest of the fruit to the bottling of what is considered liquid gold, there are a series of steps in which small producers like Treurer, who are looking for a Premium product, will pay special attention:
1. Harvest and collection of the olive.
Naturally, in the production of extra virgin olive oil, the first step is harvesting the olives. Along with the geographical area, soil composition and weather conditions, the harvesting season is another factor that affect the quality of the final product.
Generally, the early harvesting of the fruit –between the months of October and November, when the olives are veraison–, gives rise to a higher quality type of extra virgin olive oil. That is, a type of oil that better preserves its organoleptic properties and its health benefits. This is what is known as early harvest oil.
On the other hand, the harvesting process can be carried out in different ways, with shaking or mechanical vibration being the most common. In our case, to produce our extra virgin olive oil D.O. we use mechanical vibration, a process in which specific machinery vibrates the trunk of the olive tree.
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As you may have seen in the video, this system is respectful of the branches and roots of the olive trees and helps us harvest the olives in half the time, especially interesting for small producers who focus on final quality. Thus, once the fruit has been harvested, the olives are separated and transported to the mills.
2. Storage in oil mills.
To avoid deterioration of the olive due to oxidation or fermentation, it is essential that no more than 24 hours elapse between harvesting and storage in the oil mills. Branches and leaves are removed from them and the olives are cleaned, then weighed and transported to the storage hoppers, where again no more than 24 hours will pass before the oil is produce.
3. Cold extraction process.
Thus, in the 24 hours following the harvest, the fruit of the olive tree goes through a production process in which, to achieve the best quality of olive juice, a system known as cold extraction is used. This system consists of the usage of a series of modern machines that work with a two-phase centrifugation system after grinding the olives, with which the oils of the fruit are released and a paste is obtained.
Then, this paste goes through a centrifugation process, which is carried out in order to eliminate the bone and skin particles resulting from the grinding. That is, to separate the liquid part from the solid one. Even so, if there are still small remains, these will be eliminated by filtering the oil and decantation in storage tanks. In this way, it will be possible to guarantee that the product reaches the consumer’s table in perfect condition, although there is still a key step left:
4. Analysis and quality control.
Once the oil has been decanted, it passes through deposits known as pre-cellars where it’s stored, waiting for qualified personnel to carry out the sampling to assess the quality and classify the oil.
5. Packaging of the final product.
Once the quality control of the extra virgin olive oil has been carried out, it goes to the packaging machines that have a variable volume dosage system, which will vary depending on the container, and with which the oil can be bottled effectively.
Although other materials are generally used for the packaging of extra virgin olive oil, that of Premium quality such as Treurer is usually bottled in opaque glass containers. It’s key to bear in mind that extra virgin olive oil can be affected by light, hence the importance of the final packaging. In fact, it’s one of the requirements to choose a great extra virgin olive oil.