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Olive Oil Production and Extraction Process

Posted by Rick Petrocelly on

Nowadays, you get olive oil in a way very similar to what our ancestors used thousands of years ago: harvesting the olives, shredding and squeezing, to milling (olive paste), which separates the olive oil decanted. What happened was a change, a great evolution, with the instruments of production.

The Greeks used wooden presses, and the Romans used conical stone presses, moved by animal power. In the Middle Ages, the mill wheels began to be used.

The steam comes hundreds of years later which makes one of the most important inventions for the manufacture of olive oil possible: the Pfeiffer mill. The Pfeiffer mill is a circular stone the olives are placed on, with four conical wheels turning and grinding the olives.

It is the discovery of electricity that makes radical changes in olive oil production possible. This factor produces large changes in working conditions, because the use of engines facilitate the homogenization of milling and the purification of olive oil.

To obtain quality, olives should be in a very mature state, be healthy, have no defects, be free waste-free and collected with care, so that they become olive oil in the next 24 hours after collection. Afterwards, the olive oil must be kept in stainless steel containers or in containers where light and heat are properly controlled.

Although it has been gradually refined, the manufacturing process of olive oil has been known for millennia. In essence, the process is simply to pick olives from trees and crush them, squeezing the dough obtained, proceeding to the separation and decantation of the olive oil. The advent of steam power and later electricity, decisively influenced the history of oil production.

The Olive Tree

The olive tree is a medium sized fruit that belongs to the family of Oleic. It’s easy to find trees older than 1000. Trees consist of great longevity, some living longer than 2000 years. The olive tree also has a very robust, withstanding drought and poverty of land where it lives. Its roots reach up to six meters ensuring access to its source of life and water.

Growth is relatively slow, passing through an unproductive period of four years. Under favorable conditions, it bears fruit in its fifth year of life, developing for 20 years. The period of maturity and optimum production is between 35 and 150 years. From this age, olive production becomes irregular, which causes aging.

It is considered that there are about 100 species of trees. The most important is the dominating Olea Europe across the Mediterranean basin.