I was really excited to find an olive cooperative where they press the olives using traditional methods to make the oil. The oil has a fuller, fruitier taste than other virgin olive oils but is fantastic. We had taken most of our olives from this year’s harvest to the normal cooperative but just found this one in time so that we could take the last load of olives there. Because of the rain, we weren’t able to finish picking all the olives but hopefully they will still be on the trees next time we go up and we can take them here. Here are some pictures of the cooperative with a brief explanation:
You then use a broom to sweep through any that are stuck on the rungs.
The olives don’t need to be cleaned before they are put through and twigs and leaves are removed in the next stage.
The clean olives then travel on a second conveyor belt to a third which takes them up further and then drops them into the green weighing hopper. The ones in the picture are actually our olives – all picked by hand that day.
Unfortunately the day we went it had been raining so the weighing scales weren’t working as they should have been and our olives only weighed in at 1kg – a bit disappointing. However, having unloaded them by hand and put them through again it was a relief to see the correct weight on the scales – 370kg.
The next stage of the process goes on inside the building where the olives are milled and pressed. During the milling, the olives are passed through three rotating millstones to produce a sludgy mixture. This is then “iced” thickly onto plastic raffia mats.
The mats are threaded onto a pole which is then inserted into a press. By means of a system of chains and pulleys, the press compresses the mats upwards and oil comes out through a tap at the bottom of the press.
The subsequent bottling process takes another six months. Our oil should be ready in June and I’m looking forward to trying it.