The olive oil production process has remained almost unchanged over the years. New technologies have improved the time or yield but the steps from the field until the mill are still the same. This process is: harvesting, cleaning, crushing, malaxing, separation and storage.
It is key to harvest the olives in their optimal moment of ripeness to ensure an oil of high quality and the best organoleptic attributes, this is detected when the majority of olives are changing color (ripening), with hardly any green olives left and some are completely mature. It is crucial to transport immediately the olives to the mill, so the fruit does not deteriorate. The usual practice is to not exceed 24 hours from harvesting to processing. At this stage the traceability control system is beginning. Each delivery of a farmer in the cooperative is identified when arrives to the mill; and gets segregated according to the quality of the olives and/or variety.
Olives are cleaned by air blowing to remove leaves and any other impurity; if necessary they can also be washed. In this moment olives are weighed and a sample is taken.
At the mill olives are crushed with its bone in order to break the vegetable cells and extract the oil from inside. The result of the mill is a paste composed by: oil, pulp of olive, crushed bones and water. In order to obtain a liter of oil at first extraction are needed, approximately, five kilos of olives.
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The paste enters in a malaxer where it is shaken under controlled conditions in order to help the formation of the oil phase. The malaxing time and temperature are controlled; it should not exceed 90 minutes and 30ºC, to not lose properties of the oil.
This process is a physical separation. The paste is centrifuged and due to the different densities the solid, liquid get separated.
At most modern warehouses virgin oils are stored under temperature conditions controlled in order to avoid oxidation.