The process that is taken to getting to the oil in the olive is very time sensitive. We’ll go through it here step by step. From when to pick the olives to getting to the gold.
The Growing Phases of an Olive:
When an olive is small, oblong shaped and bright green, it is still young and not ready for picking. It will then get bigger and the colour will turn more yellow.
A half-ripe olive is when you start seeing brown/black creep up the olive.
At this phase, your olive is black.
Your olive is wrinkly like a prune and is officially rotten.
At phase 2, when the brown/black is halfway up the olive, the olive can now be crushed and pulp to make olive oil. You won’t get as much oil from the olive as if you wait a little longer, but you will get an excellent quality of oil.
Olives are washed thoroughly and then they are crushed and reduced to a pulp.
Olives are graded for quality and size. Large olives generally go for processing to become table olives (the kind that go on your pizza, in your salad or on your cheese board). A green olive is simply one that has been harvested before it has fully ripened.
The quality of the oil is dependent on the quality of the olives used.
Shortfalls include using olives that are too ripe, that have been oxidising too long (olives that have been picked/ harvested and not crushed in time. Ideally, Olives need to be pressed almost immediately).
Olives are washed and crushed (including their pips and skins) into a paste. It is then centrifuged (a machine with a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents, to separate fluids of different densities (e.g. cream from milk) or liquids from solids) at up to 3000 rpm to separate out the components (Oil, water and pulp, which is called sansa or pomace).