Stages of processing

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The olive tree

“The state used to sell the fruit, and anybody who dug up or cut down a sacred olive tree was tried by the Council of Areopagus, and if found guilty punished with death”.

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This is what Aristotle wrote in the Constitution of the Athenians (60.2), which was to demonstrate the importance of this tree in the society of the time.
In fact, the olive tree has ancient origins, and no other plant has played such an important role in Western culture, due to its longevity, its economic importance, the healthy properties of its fruits and the oil made ​​from them.
In the land of Capo di Leuca the Basilian monks - fleeing from the iconoclastic controversy which began in 726 BC with the Byzantine Emperor Leo III of Constantinople -, gave considerable spread and impetus to the cultivation of olive trees and innovated agricultural practices.
Even today our land is covered of olive trees, which represent the facial features, the wrinkles and expressions. It is the seat of memory and place of prayer. Each tree is different from the others and from itself, and in a perpetual slow metamorphosis that follows the wind and the sun, they move towards the care of men and grow freely. You can hear, maybe cyclists or walkers, or more often our grandparents, say: ‘turn right when you get to the biggest tree’. You just can’t go wrong with olive trees..

The harvest

The harvest is that special moment when the fruit of the olive tree is picked from the soundness and safety of its plant, then, through the farmers’ work, it becomes the protagonist of a new life.
For this reason, the olive must be harvested whole and well and at the right stage of ripeness. This process, named ripening, is the moment when the drupe changes color: it turns from green to various shades of purple, then brown, and finally black. This means that the olive is ripening, it is enriching with oil, antioxidants, perfumes and aromatic substances.

The right degree of ripeness is when the olive is in an intermediate stage of color, when it is partly green and partly colored. But there is no mathematical rule: the experience of the producer will lead him to understand what is the right time to get a certain result, that is an oil more or less intense, more or less fragrant.

We pick the olives directly from the plant, removing them gently by using vibrant machines which comb the trees. Olives are then placed in plastic boxes with holes and immediately taken to the mill for the extraction phase.

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It is very important to preserve the integrity of the fruit especially at this stage in order to prevent the starting of fermentation and oxidation that may damage the oil.
The olive is a fruit with a valuable and delicate content. It requires great care.

Crushing

The men and women of our family pay the same commitment and expertise as our fathers did with the production of extra virgin olive oil. But, although this passion has remained unchanged, the tools to get oil have changed much over time: from the old millstones of underground oil mills driven by animal traction, we have passed to sophisticated and modern extraction systems. This has not compromised the quality, flavor and authenticity of a product that has now become the recognized symbol of our land and family.
Our oil mill is one of the first and most modern systems in a continuous cycle of extraction in the south of Salento. In 2005, after several extensions of the old plant, a new oil mill was made with two extraction systems in a continuous cycle.

Olives are milled the same day of harvest. To safeguard the quality of oil, they are carried from the field and stored in plastic boxes with holes to allow the passage of air and prevent the formation of mold. They are then separated from leaves and twigs, washed, cleaned and reduced to a paste during the stage of crushing.

The kneading of the dough follows the crushing, that is a slow and constant stirring with a worm screw that has the purpose to break the oil-water emulsion, favor the aggregation of the oil droplets contained in the olive drupe, and develop secondary plant perfumes.

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The extraction of the oil from the olive paste is carried out through the centrifugal force due to the two-phase decanter (cold extraction), and subsequently to a final separator. The two-phase decanter allows considerable water savings because it requires a minimum amount of water. This is a huge benefit not only for the environment and the landscape that are important to us, but also for the very quality of the oil produced. We know that the oil polyphenols are water soluble, that is they disperse readily in water. A minor use of water at this stage, therefore, preserves most of the polyphenolic content of the oil.

All processing steps take place at controlled temperatures that never exceed 27 ° C not to affect the organoleptic quality and freshness of the oil produced. This is the cold extraction. From 100 kg of olives you will get about 10-12 kg of oil, 45 kg of residue and the remaining part is made up of vegetation water, waste that we reuse as biomass or mulch.

Filtration

Given the particular biochemical composition of extra virgin olive oil, it is very important to perform stabilization operations immediately after extraction, in order to preserve its integrity over time and its goodness.
The filtration of all our oils is a deliberate corporate decision, designed to put in the bottle and on the market only perfectly clear and clean oils. In this way, our oil can be placed in the best position to get to the end of its shelf life while maintaining its biochemical characteristics and organoleptic properties.

The objectives of filtration are:

  • remove water suspended (fermentation, hydrolysis)
  • retain solid and colloidal impurities (sludge)
  • reduce turbidity
  • Increase the shelf life of bottled oil (extension of shelf life)
     

With filtration we eliminate water and pulp particles remained dispersed in the oil, which, over time , in an anaerobic environment, would face phenomena of fermentation and oxidation and would damage inexorably the chemical and organoleptic quality of extra virgin olive oil.

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Storage and packaging

We keep our extra virgin olive oil with great care: oil is the noblest vegetable fat, but also the most delicate. It is sensitive to light and oxygen, which can damage it: that's why oil must be stored in a dark place at a constant temperature and away from oxygen.

Our company is equipped with a modern local of storage and packaging, where oil is stored in steel silos under nitrogen at a controlled temperature. We bottle at the time of the request of the customer, to ensure the product throughout its useful life between dispatch and the arrival on your tables.
 
As for the packaging, we chose to use only dark glass bottles (250, 500 and 750 ml) and tinplate cans (100, 250, 500 ml and 5 litres), which we consider the best packaging systems.

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Tasting

An oil can be called ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ only when it is obtained from olives by mechanical extraction without the addition of chemicals. It must also comply with certain chemical parameters (maximum acidity 0.8%) and some sensory parameters (it must be fruity, bitter and pungent and have no organoleptic defect).

The quality of the olive oil can be recognized through the use of our senses, especially smell and taste: tasting and smelling the oil, just like any other food, is very important to recognize and evaluate its quality.

The organoleptic test includes:
  • a sniff test: let’s put the oil into a small glass, and sniff it. The scent must remember fresh fruit and vegetables, olive leaf, artichoke, chicory, the freshly cut grass. No hint of oxidized, rancid, stale, only fresh scents that remind the world of plants and flowers. This is the scent of a good oil.
  • a taste test: let’s taste it. The good-quality olive oil is non-greasy , it is fresh, tasty, astringent, it has bitter and spicy notes (polyphenols pinch), but non-invasive , all should be well balanced with the aromatic part. The oil has good flavors, that remind of chicory, artichoke, basil, apple, banana, berries, all notes known as ‘varietali’, that is, related to the variety of olive that we squeezed to make our oil.

The color is not an indication of quality of the oil: an oil can be more or less green, or golden yellow, depending on the variety of olives used, on the degree of maturity at the time of harvest and on the extraction technology.

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