For thousands of years, olive oil is considered a stapled food in the Mediterranean. The process of producing olive oil is simple especially because it is practiced in several rural areas of Italy and Greece. Commercial processing of olive is relatively complex but it relies in the same principle, beating the olives in order for the oil trapped inside to be released. This process can also be used for extracting oils from grains and nuts.
The first step in producing olive oil is harvesting the olives. The traditional way of releasing the fruit is beating olive trees by hand, through many processors today are using commercial machinery in stripping the trees. After the picking the olives, they should be sent into the olive mill immediately, otherwise the acidity level would rise too high that could affect the flavor. When it already arrived to the mill, the olives are selected to remove the leaves and branches. Then they will be sent into the cleaner for the removal of leaves, dirt and twigs.
The cleaned olives are run through the mill that will turn them into paste. Traditional producing of olive oil make use of stone grinder into the mill olives, through the commercially processed turned into high volume metal grinders that can continuously operate. The paste will undergo the malaxation process in which it will be slowly mixed making the droplets of oil adhere into the other droplets in the mixture.
After mixing, the olive paste is placed under pressure for the extraction of the liquid oil together with water from the fruit. Then water is separated from the olive oil in a centrifuge and while water is discarded, the olive oil is being bottled. The resulting olive oil is known as virgin since it is made through purely mechanical approach.
Acid levels of olive oil that is less than 1% is regarded ‘extra virgin’ and has intense and rich flavor. On the other hand, olive oil that has 1-3% acid level is known as ‘virgin’. Refined olive oil is an olive oil that has been treated chemically for the reduction of its acidity.