HARVEST AT THE ONSET OF RIPENING
The skill to recognize the correct moment to harvest is one of the most important aspects of olive farming, as many experts say that quality “is made in the field”. In Southern Molise, the olive reaches the onset of ripeness, which is the ideal point to begin harvesting, at the beginning of October and this is when harvest starts.
Only at this precise moment does the olive contain a high percentage of polyphenols, which will provide the main characteristics of the oil : its longevity and anti-oxidant properties. Teams of six expert harvesters work hard with pneumatic combs helping the olives to fall from the trees into the nets below. Table olives on the other hand are always harvested and selected by hand.
ARRIVAL AT THE OIL MILL
At last the olives reach the mill where they are put into large open bins so that the air can circulate and avoid fermentation. Within 12 hours of harvest, the olives begin the transformation process. They are weighed and then tipped into a huge funnel sending them into the machine that removes the leaves and twigs, which inevitably get picked together with the fruit. The olives are then washed and conveyed into the mill.
There are two fundamental requisites for the extraction of a good quality oil: rigorous control of the grinding time and of the water temperature that must be below 27°C at all times.
The olives are milled using a disk crusher which turns them into an “oil paste”, made up of oil, water and solid parts. This paste is then ground inside stainless steel tanks for about half an hour (the exact time depends on the olive variety), which facilitates the dissolution of the oil molecule. The separation of the solid and liquid parts is carried out in a three-phase centrifuge which separates the oil, the solid waste (pomace) and the water.
The oily substance flows into the separator where it undergoes a last separation between water and oil, now ready for consumption. The pomace will be used as an ingredient for the compost and the waters are spread on the soil, according to the existing rules regarding agricultural waste.
The oils obtained from the different varieties are stored in stainless steel vats under nitrogen, each variety is kept separate until it is used for the final blend.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD PRODUCTION PROCESS
Each stage of production, from tending the plant to extracting the oil, is important to achieve a high quality extra virgin olive oil that has all the fundamental olfactory characteristics, flavour and health benefits, making it an indispensable part of our everyday healthy diet and crucial for the prevention of common illnesses.
Organic fruit from Sicily and Calabria – lemons, oranges, mandarins and bergamot are milled with the estate’s olives, as well as spices and herbs – ginger, cardamom seeds, basil and myrtle berries.