Once the olives are harvested we’re on the clock. We don’t want our olives to sit any longer than they have to. We’re lucky in that our orchards are 15 minutes away from our mill, giving us the ability to be pressing olives shortly after they’ve come off the tree.
As the olives arrive at our mill, they’re immediately unloaded onto a conveyor that elevates them through a de-leafer and into a stainless steel bin. The de-leafer not only removes a majority of excess leaves out of the olives but sticks/ twigs as well. The olives will then fall to the bottom of that bin and onto another conveyor where we will hand pick any remaining sticks and leaves. We can’t get everything but every little bit helps!
The olives keep moving up the conveyor through a refreshing H2O shower. We want our olives to be as clean as they possibly can be before they go into our mill. Once the olives enter the mill they won’t see the light of day until they’ve been pressed into delicious organic extra virgin olive oil! The olives get crushed, pit and all, into a guacamole looking paste.
This paste now must go into a Malaxer. What’s a Malaxer, great question! Without getting too technical, a Malaxer is a machine that prepares the pit, olive flesh, and water to be separated from the olive oil. We can control the temperature inside our Malaxer’s using water in an insulated jacket on the outside of the Malaxer. This allows us to bring the paste up to an optimum temperature for oil extraction without any degradation occurring to the oil itself.
The next phase in the evolution of our olives is a 2 phase horizontal centrifuge or decanter. This decanter spins quite fast, around 3000 RPM, sending the olive oil one way and pomace the other. Pomace is the byproduct of olive oil and has many uses. We actually can use it as fertilizer and spread it back over our orchards. The pomace can also be dried out and used as cattle feed. So there is little to no waste, which we like!
Now our olives are in an olive oil form but it still has a bit of pulp in it. From that first decanter the oil now transitions to two vertical centrifuges or polishers. These centrifuges spin almost twice as fast as the first decanter pulling even more pulp out of the oil. You can taste the oil straight out of these centrifuges and it’s delicious!
We then transfer the oil into our stainless steel working tanks. These tanks have a conical shaped bottom which allows any residual pulp to settle to the bottom. We can then purge the tanks of the sediment, this process is called racking and usually lasts around 6 weeks. After the racking period the oil is ready to be bottled and enjoyed by people all over the world!