How our oils are produced
The olive tree
The olive tree belongs to the family of “oleaceae”. It is one of the oldest and most important plants that characterize the regions of the Mediterranean basin; it is always green, that is to say it belongs to that category of plants that never lose their leaves but are renewed every two or three years, or even earlier, in the case of annual pruning, a stimulant of new vegetation.
It has a well-developed root system extending enough to penetrate the most tortuous parts of the subsoil, for this reason the olive tree is a plant that has a very strong ability to survive, reaching a duration of over a century in environments that are not particularly favorable.
The leaf is lanceolate, green-gray in the upper part while it is green-silver in the lower part.
The flowers are white in color forming a cluster inflorescence during the period of April-May.
The resulting fruit, the olive, has different shapes depending on the variety, however almost oval: there are exceptions such as the “peranzana” cultivar where the fruit takes on a more rounded shape.
The olive is composed of a more external, thin and transparent part, called “epicarpo”, an intermediate part called “mesocarp” or “pulp” from which the greatest quantity of oil is obtained, and an inner part called “endocarp” commonly called “hazel”.
The olives ripen in winter, from October to January, depending on the different cultivars. It is a fruit that has a very long life cycle of about 8 months, from the inflorescence to the ripening of the fruit, subjecting the tree to strong productive stresses.
The olive harvest
Olives are traditionally harvested by beating the fronds with sticks, in order to cause the fall of the fruits that are collected on nets prepared at the time of harvesting under the plant.
Another more modern technique involves the use of light mechanical beaters that shake the branches with less damage to the plant. Another method consists in collecting with mechanical shakers that wrap the trunk of the tree with a rubber gripper and then transmit subtle vibrations that make the olives fall on the nets set up before this operation.
These methods are normally used in traditional olive groves, even secular ones, with an open or polyconic plant, typical of our territory in which we operate.
Recently there are olive groves defined as “super intensive” consisting of rows of hedges, the collection of which takes place with straddling machines, very similar to those used in espalier vineyards for the collection of wine grapes.
Processing of olives
The olives, once collected by our farmers, are transferred to our mill.
It is our concern to select the best olives in the field, especially those coming from trees pruned regularly every year and with an optimal state of ripening (veraison).
Before being delivered to our mill, the olives are weighed and identified in special lots and then sent for processing in very short times, from 6 to 24 hours, to obtain an oil that has the typical aroma of freshly pressed olives.
The first phase of transformation is the defoliation and sorting that takes place in special machines with rotating perforated rolls in which the olives are crossed by a strong ventilation that has the function of letting the leaves fall on one side and the olives, now defoliated, from the other, completely cleaned also from other possible impurities.
Immediately after the pressing takes place. In this process the olives are pressed into a closed steel container (frangitore) equipped with a spoke hammer that rotates quickly to crush the olives just entered, making them come out of a grid with uniform holes, to obtain an olive paste with a homogeneous granulometry, very important for the subsequent processing phases.
After pressing, which is a continuous process that takes place in a few seconds (to optimize the quality), we proceed to the kneading that takes place inside steel tanks equipped with “kneading” blades that rotate slowly to make a delicate mixing of the olive paste at a controlled temperature thus favoring the aggregation of oil droplets to facilitate their extraction.
The next phase is the centrifugation that occurs in machines called “horizontal decanters”.
In the decanter the already kneaded olive paste is pumped which, due to the centrifugal force, separates into oil and into vegetation water which represent the liquid phase and in pomace which represents the solid phase (three-phase processing). Centrifugation can also take place in two phases: in this case the oil alone represents the liquid phase and the vegetation water together with the pomace represent the most humid solid phase, due to the presence of the same vegetation water in the pomace.
The oil thus obtained is transferred to vertical separators which have the function of further clarifying the oil eliminating any small residuals of vegetation water and suspended particles.
Storage and bottling
Then the oil is put into steel containers (silos) of first storage and then in other silos present in a buried warehouse, at an ideal controlled temperature, in which the oil is stored waiting to be used in the subsequent phase of bottling.
The packaging takes place in a linear automatic system where the oil is bottled, labeled and packaged, ready to be delivered to our customers.
All our phases of the production process, from the entrance of the olives in our mill to the bottling of the oil obtained from them, is traced by an internal company accounting able to identify the entire production chain.
The goodness of extra virgin olive oil is now recognized, not only at the table, as a main condiment of the Mediterranean diet, but also by the scientific world that often has given it the nickname of “natural medicine” in the prevention of many diseases.
In fact, the presence of oleic acid favors the increase of good HDL cholesterol reducing the bad LDL one, improves digestion, as well as the assimilation of the fat-soluble vitamins A-D-E-K and minerals.
It has significant functions such as intestinal regulator, bile fluidifier, and is an important inhibitor in the formation of calculations.
The preventive action against aging, caused by cellular oxidation and free radicals, is guaranteed by the strong presence of antioxidant substances, among which the “lignans” belonging to the class of phenols, particularly present in extra virgin olive oils very fruity.
Therefore, due to its innumerable healthful effects, extra virgin olive oil is indicated not only in adult nutrition, but also in that of early childhood for its acidic composition very similar to mother’s milk.