Extra virgin olive oil is one of the main food products of the South. Together with wheat and grapevine, in fact, the olive tree is part of the triad of the Mediterranean diet : healthy and good food exported all over the world. Extra virgin is also an ancient oil, used throughout the Mediterranean area as a cosmetic and as a condiment. On the other hand, green gold is a triumph of flavors and aromas that other types of oil cannot offer. Unlike lard and seed oils, in fact, extra virgin olive oil keeps its flavor unchanged, giving sweet and savory dishes an unmistakable taste. But how is this precious liquid produced? Let’s find out together in the two main phases: collection and extraction.
First phase: the collection
The very first phase of extra virgin olive oil production is the harvest . Generally, it is necessary to wait for the moment of ripening of the olive, a period that is called veraison . At this precise moment the fruit begins to have a color that varies from green to purple and the first dark spots begin to appear. It is very important to harvest the olives trying not to anticipate the times, but not to postpone them too much either. This is because the olive, during ripening, is a concentrate of oil and phenolic substances: the main elements that make extra virgin olive oil so good and healthy.
Second phase: the extraction
After having transported the fruits to the mill as quickly as possible, they are sorted and then washed. So, the olives are literally chopped through the use of a knife crusher, it is a very important moment, here we begin to determine the aromas that the oil will have at the end of the whole process. This paste is sent to the malaxer, where the formation of oil droplets takes place for an indefinite and never the same time between one batch and the next.The whole process requires constant temperature monitoring, so that the oil produced can be classified as “cold extracted” must never exceed 27 degrees.
The next step is the decanter, the heart of the crusher.
Here the separation of liquids and solids takes place.
The pomace (solid part consisting of the stone and dry pulp) is removed from the production process, then stored in special containers and managed as soil improver.
The liquid part, on the other hand, is conveyed to the separator, where the water is removed by centrifugal force to facilitate the extraction of pure oil: extra virgin olive oil.
The next step will be filtration, to remove olive residues and ensure optimal conservation over time.
Extra virgin olive oil: quality that tastes good
In summary, to extract the oil you need to have time and knowledge. The olive harvesting phase is the most important one, because it is precisely here that the beneficial properties of the fruit are kept unchanged. In fact, if an early harvest is carried out, there is a risk of harvesting olives that do not have the necessary amount of polyphenols and antioxidants. On the contrary, if they are harvested too late, the flavor is significantly altered. In both cases the quality, and therefore also the selling price, is reduced. Finally, the extraction phase must be treated in detail, to avoid waste and to obtain a DOP product worthy of this certification.