Olive oil production

The first step in the olive oil production process is the harvest of the olive fruit. This in general takes place between mid to late october and mid to late january, depending on the area, the ripeness of the olives and the climate.

Traditionally olive trees are beaten by hand using long sticks forcing the olives to fall on the ground. Today machinery may be used to strip the trees. Specialist agricultural machinery may put less force on the olives and the tree itself, thus being a better method.

The olives are then placed into bags or special pallet boxes to be taken to the olive mill. The olives are then processed on the same day, usually just a few hours after harvest.

The process in the olive mill is:


  1. The olives are washed and any other material (twigs or leaves) is removed.
  2. The olives are ground into paste using steel drums (mechanical method - no chemicals). In modern steel drum mills the grinding process takes about 20 minutes.
  3. After grinding, the paste is stirred slowly for another 20 to 30 minutes in a particular container (malaxation), where the microscopic oil drops unite into bigger drops, which facilitates the mechanical extraction.
  4. The paste is then pressed by centrifugation/ the water is thereafter separated from the oil in a second centrifugation
The oil produced by only physical (mechanical) means is called virgin oil. Extra virgin olive oil is virgin olive oil that satisfies specific high chemical and organoleptic criteria (low free acidity, no or very little organoleptic defects).
Olive oil with acid levels measured at less than 0.8% is considered “extra virgin” and usually has a particularly rich and intense flavor. Olive oil with a higher acid level (0.9-3%) is labeled “virgin.”