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At this point, you probably already know that science agreed that extra virgin olive oil is the best dietary source of fat and has multiple health benefits.
In this article, we will explain the complexity of the olive growing ecosystem and olive oil production and why premium olive oil costs more.
Artisanal top olive producers
Creating and maintaining conditions in which olives will flourish cost the artisanal olive producer time and money.
Each step of the olive oil making process, from handpicking the olives to processing the olive fruit and getting olive oil to your hands, is meticulously carried out, so the olive oil quality could stay preserved.
Artisanal premium olive producers make premium extra virgin olive oils high in polyphenols, EVOO that costs to produce at least 4 to 5 times more than average extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil quality over quantity
When producing quality premium olive oil, quality outweighs quantity and comes at a cost.
Top olive oil producers sacrifice a significant portion of their olive production to get that higher-quality olive oil that is better and healthier. These decisions are labour-intensive and costly.
Some olive producers will prune their olive trees so that all branches will receive equal sunlight and air; of course, this results in less olive fruit per tree, but it maximizes quality.
Early harvest olive oils
Many top olive oil producers pick olives early in the harvest when olives are still green to capture the vibrant, robust flavours and aroma and higher levels of antioxidants in olive oil.
This decision is costly, as if they were to do that in late harvest they would gain more olive oil, often almost double sometimes triple the yield compared to early season. The difference in the quality of olive oil between early and late harvest is enormous.
Picking olives is done 100% manually, by intense labour when pickers have to go through olive groves and carefully select which olive trees to harvest. Note that, imperfect olive fruit will add a defect to the olive oil.
Olives processing requires precise coordination if you want to achieve top olive oil quality.
The moment you pick olives from the tree, they begin to oxidize and degrade quickly. To preserve quality, olives need to be taken to mills as fast as possible. The process requires perfect coordination and logistics, which is easier done and controlled by small producers due to their smaller quantities.
Olives should be milled not more than three or four hours after being harvested.
What happens with large olive producers is that they machine-harvest olives quickly, but the olive mills can only accept a certain amount of olives. As olives sit in piles, they begin to deteriorate in quality already. Longer time to press olives will result in lower quality olive oil and olive oil lower in antioxidants.
The olive mill
The question Quantity over Quality comes to play once again at the olive mill. The longer olive oil stays in the crushing and mixing process, mill with extract more olive juice (oil), but olive oil will lose its nutritional value, aroma and taste.
Extra virgin olive oils made in limited small quantities followed by a person with the first and last name are olive oils with a soul and premium controlled quality.
We encourage you, if you can, always to be in favour of supporting those small independent producers as olive oils are made with love, hard-work, knowledge and integrity.