Yesterday morning I took some clients to visit the olive mill that I go to that is about 30 kilometres from Seville. The mill produces an average of around 30,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil every year. The oil they produce is of an exceptionally high quality and is produced from olives that are picked much earlier than is normal. This means that the olive oil they can extract is only 8-10% of the total weight of the olives if they are still green and 12-14% if they are starting to turn black, instead of around 20% for ripe black olives. This would be economic madness unless you were producing fantastic olive oil that will fetch a higher price.
When we arrived at the mill, which is surrounded by their olive trees, a group of workers were in the process of picking green olives by hand. Normally, olives are only picked by hand when they are to be used as eating olives. The olives being picked were from young trees that would be damaged if mechanical vibrators were clamped to their trunks to shake off the olives. Below is a short video of the olives being picked.
For quality extra virgin olive oil, the olives have to be processesed as soon as possible after being picked. Any delay in processing the olives means that there is a possibility of the olives starting to ferment or to oxidise. Below we can see the olives that have arrived at the mill going up a conveyer before they are washed and have any leaves or other foreign objects removed. This cleaning process can be seen in the second video below.
The clean olives then pass along another conveyer belt where any damaged olives are removed. This can be seen in the photo below. I have not seen this attention to detail in any other olive mill.
These olives are then taken up into a hopper (see video below) which when it holds 1500 kilos of olives will pass them into a milling machine. This weight hadn’t been reached this weight while we were there so we didn’t get to see the rest of the extraction process. I will be visiting the mill again with some clients next Monday so I hope that I can get some footage and photos of the remaining part of the process and post it on this blog.