Our First Olive Harvest ~ Part Two
I awoke a little sore but well rested and quite excited to see the process through at the olive mill so we could bring home the fruits of our two days of hard work. I was surprised to see my husband managed to cram all 11 cases into our small little leased Citroen, but somehow he managed to do so without an inch to spare. Our appointment was at 10:30 and our landscaper planned to come along with us to make sure everything went smoothly. I guess he thought we might lose our way and get stranded with a car full of olives.
When we arrived, I was surprised to see that the olive mill was basically a big, new warehouse, completely automated and spotlessly clean. We had earlier toured an old fashioned mill in Montefalco that still used the large stones to press the olives and had been producing olive oil for over 200 years. This was certainly the complete opposite of that mill.
The entire process of pressing the olives to the completion when we left with our new 50 liter container of olive oil took just about an hour. It was really fun to follow the process step by step and we were allowed to follow our olives along their path to olive oil like proud parents. We were surprised that the total weight of our olives ended up being 270 kilos, and in the end that netted us about 45 liters of very green, very pretty cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. I guess not bad for two days work! In the end we happily took our olive oil home, and just like childbirth, with my new oil in hand, I forgot all about the work involved in picking the olives and was actually looking forward to next year’s harvest!
I am posting step by step photos below so you can follow the process along as we did.
One very packed little French car! I even had to carry the 50 liter olive jar on my lap!
Another view of our olives packed into our little car.
At the mill ready to put the olives into the chute. I felt like I did when I sent my kids to kindergarten for the first time!
And away they go into the mill!
First step they are jostled through this machine to remove leaves and twigs.
And here I spent hours removing every little leaf from our olives. Live & learn I guess!
Here is where the leaves are dumped once they are sorted from the olives.
The olives are next brought here on the conveyer belt to be weighed.
Ours were 270 kilos. Not bad for two days worth of picking!
A view of the very modern, automated mill with two runs on each side.
Once weighed, the olives are brought into the pressing room and are washed here.
Another view of the interior of the mill and one of the two workers who keep their eyes on the valves and gauges.
Here the real process begins as the olives are crushed to extract their oil. And here I really thought they were “pressed”!
This is the first extraction where the pulp is divided from the oil.
Once the pulp is removed and discarded the oil is filtered.
Here is where the olive pulp goes where it is dried and then sent to be made into
pellets to burn for heating.
A proud Pappa turns the final switch and we get our oil.
Know I understand why they call it liquid gold.
Once home we pour our first bottle to taste. It was amazing, I promise!