Technology is key in modern olive oil production, but you need a team effort to make quality olive oil. That effort starts in the olive grove. When working the groves, I’ve learned you must be a part weather forecaster, environmentalist, chemist, and economist. You probably need to throw in a little bookkeeping and a healthy dose of endurance.
Modern Love of Olive Oil
Making high-quality olive oil is time-intensive because it involves producing a fresh product. The timeliness of the milling process is crucial for achieving the best outcome, making the miller’s work highly significant. As the machines require precise calibration, the skill level of the miller is of utmost importance.
The Effort to Produce Quality Olive Oil
To ensure the highest quality of olives, it is crucial to transport them to the mill as quickly as possible.
Once the olives are harvested, many challenges arise during milling, such as oxidation as the oil comes into contact with the air. Additionally, the oil is exposed to heat during the various phases of milling, which can result in problematic defects.
Dedicated millers employ state-of-the-art machines that operate around the clock and are kept clean and well-maintained to counteract these factors. These diligent millers often sleep at the mill to closely monitor the process and produce the best olive oil possible.
Olive Oil Characteristics
Every olive cultivar has different aromatic notes and flavour profiles. Extracting the oil while maintaining all its characteristics is a very complicated process. Professional olive oil tasters can be called in to help the miller maintain the characteristics of an olive cultivar or achieve a desired sensory profile.
Olive oil has three main positive characteristics – fruitiness, pungency, and bitterness. The balance of these can completely change the aroma and flavour profile, so it is up to the miller and the producer to determine which characteristic they want to highlight and what that balance should be before extraction.
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