Olive oil is a healthy liquid fat obtained from olives. The highest quality olive oil is extra virgin olive oil which must be totally unprocessed and kept below 75 degrees Fahrenheit at all times during the mechanical extraction process.
It must also meet strict chemical criteria as defined by the International Olive Oil Council and adopted by the European Union and USDA, but must also have perfect flavor and aroma as determined by a certified tasting panel.
How Olive Oil Is Made
The first important step is to collect the olives from the tree. The traditional way of harvesting olives is to shake the tree or beat its branches with sticks to make the olives drop to the ground. However, if no net is used to catch the olives before they hit the ground, this process can result in bruised olives the crushing of which produces a lower-quality oil.
Carefully picking the olives is necessary in order to ensure the quality of the end-product.
After the olives have been picked, washed, and any leaves and twigs removed, then it’s time for crushing. Crushing was traditionally done using stone wheels but stainless steel rollers are much more common today.
Water is slowly stirred into the resulting paste in order for the oil molecules to concentrate. The mixture is finally centrifuged to remove the water. What is left is olive oil.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Extra virgin olive oil is the ONLY cooking oil made without the use of chemicals and industrial refining