How Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted from the olive
There are many different methods utilized to extract oil from olives, the method that we know most about and feel passionate about is that employed by each of our producers, so this is the method described here.
Hand harvested olives arrive in small crates at the frantoio (mill). They are almost all green, so have been harvested at the beginning of the harvest window. The olives are sorted by hand to remove anything that is unwanted and then dropped in to a stainless steel drum where air jets remove leaves and stems before washing.
The clean olives then travel into the mill itself where they are crushed into a paste (stones, skins and pulp) before moving in to a malaxer (which is a vat with a fan screw along the bottom that continuously turns the pulp coaxing out droplets of oil from the cell membranes of the olives. Time is of the essence because you want to avoid too much contact with oxygen, so there is a great deal of skill involved in the crushing and malaxing phases. The paste is then sent to a centrifuge that literally separates the oil from the skins, stones and flesh and then in to a smaller centrifuge to remove any water from the oil.
The oil is then filtered, to ensure it is stable – and this is another important choice to make – cloudy olive oil is not necessarily a good thing when you have shipped the oil to another country and it has probably been stored in various places at a broad range of temperatures as in the supermarket supply chain. Filtration ensures a bright, clean, stable Olive Oil that has a shelf life of up to 18 months.
The oil is then typically stored under a heavy gas (to prevent oxidation) in stainless steel tanks and then bottled to order. What we do at Frantoi is order our oil just once a year, directly after the harvest, when we are in the best position to evaluate its quality, health benefits and therefore its overall value. This gives you the longest shelf-life possible to enjoy your olive oil throughout the year.