Making olive oil is not easy. It requires both skill and experience. The process is long, complex and full of factors that can influence the quality of the final product. From harvesting to distribution, this is how olive oil is made.
Every year, when fall comes to an end, thousands of labourers flood the Spanish olive groves to collect the olives and initiate the making of olive oil. By then, the green fruits have been maturing for around eight months in the tree and are ready to be picked.
Traditionally, farmers used a long stick to shake the tree branches, forcing the olives to fall into a harvesting net that is placed all around the bottom of the tree.
This method can sometimes damage the fruit and have an impact on the final quality of the oil. So these days is more common to use a mechanical arm that applies vibration directly to the tree trunk. This not only speeds up the harvesting process but it’s also more gentle with both the trees and the olives.
TRANSPORT AND WASH
Short after, the olives are transferred to the factory where they will be weighted, classified, separated and washed. In order to get the best results, this must be done within 24h of the harvesting – a must when making extra virgin olive oil. This prevents the formation of unwanted acids that could compromise the flavour.
The next step is crushing the olives, bones included. This is done with the help of a mill. The output is a dense olive paste that it’s then whipped very slowly for around an hour in a process called ‘batido’ (malaxation). The purpose is to get the paste ready for the oil extraction process.
EXTRACTING THE OIL
The resulting paste is then filtered and pressed, separating this way the oil from the solid matter. The leftover solid substance receives the name of pomace and it is used to produce pomace oil.
Finally, the olive oil is put through a centrifuge machine, where a high-speed spinning cylinder removes any sediments that might remain in the product.
STORAGE AND PACKAGING
Once the olive oil is ready, it’s stored in stainless steel tanks before initiating the very delicate packaging process, where the oil must be handled with extreme care to maintain the product quality intact.