Making Olive Oil Can Be a Dirty Job
The making of your favorite and fruity extra virgin olive oil requires impeccable timing, a lot of TLC and some messy clean up. Let’s see what it takes to make one of nature’s most flavorful and healthy oils.
- Harvesting involves perfect timing and a gentle touch. The time to harvest olives is right before they are ripe. If olives are shaken or beaten from the branches, bruising of the fruit is likely, which will affect the taste. The preferred method is to use an “olive rake” to gently “comb” the olives off the branches onto a cloth below. It takes a considerable amount of time and many hands to harvest a grove.
- Press Time. After removing all residual leaves, twigs and branches, the olives receive a bath and then put into the press. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is done solely by cold pressing; no excessive heat (above 82 degrees) or chemical are used to extract the oil. The olives, including their pits, are crushed into a paste.
- Water and Oil Don’t Mix. Water is slowly added to the paste, further pressed and sent through a centrifuge (used to separate materials). During this process, the olive oil and water are extracted from one another.
- Waste Not Want Not. The product that remains after the pressing is called “pomace.” Some manufacturers will try to press additional oil from the pomace, which is a much lower grade oil and must be labeled “Pomace Oil.” Other manufacturers, such as the one in the video will use the pomace in a compost to use on existing crops.
- Off to a New Home. The freshly pressed olive oil is stored in stainless steel containers at roughly 65 degrees to prevent breakdown. The oil is then bottled and shipped to distributors. Veronica Foods, the supplier to Leaning Ladder, ships its oil 45-60 days after harvest. Look for harvest or “crush” dates on all Leaning Ladder single varietal olive oil FUSTIs.
- Color Can Matter. Olive oil ranges in color from deep green to a golden or light color. The color does not indicate quality, but if you’re looking for an olive oil with higher polyphenols (anti-oxidents), choose an oil that is more golden with yellow tints. This oil comes from ripe olives and may contain more healing qualities.
Susan and Bridget