Pruned and Watered: Olive trees are watered monthly or weekly, and pruned so that no branches grow in the center, allowing every branch lots of light and nutrients.
Olive Harvest, April – May: Olives are picked by hand or by machine, which shakes the branches and causes the olives to fall to the floor. The fruit is processes as soon after the harvest as possible.
Clean-up: Twigs, leaves and stems are removed and the olives are washed.
Grinding: Olives (pits and all) are ground into a paste, a strange kind of tapenade. This grinding can be done by large stone wheels, or by stainless steel rollers.
Pressing: The olive paste is pressed between metal disks, or spun in a centrifuge. The oil separates from the water and the solids, but a few tiny sediment particles remain.
Stored: The nearly-pure oil is then stored in large stainless steel containers. Over time, any remaining sediments sink to the bottom, self-filtering and leaving behind a clear oil ready for consumption.
Bottled and Labeled and ready! Olive oil is best consumed as soon as made.
By Madeline Blasberg
Published in the December 2012/January 2013 edition of Wine Republic