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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.
Creating and maintaining conditions in which olives will flourish cost the artisanal producer time and money. Each step of the olive oil making process, from handpicking the olives to processing the fruit and getting oil to your hands, is meticulously carried out, so the quality of the oil could stay preserved. Producing premium high-phenolic olive oil costs at least 4 to 5 times more than average extra virgin olive oil.
Quality over quantity
When producing quality premium olive oil, quality outweighs quantity and comes at a cost. Top olive oil producers are sacrificing a significant portion of their production to get that higher-quality olive oil that is better and healthier. These decisions are labour-intensive and costly.
Some 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.
To capture the vibrant, robust flavours and aromas and higher levels of antioxidants in olive oil, many top producers pick olives early in the harvest when olives are still green. This is costly, as if they were to do that in late harvest they would gain more oil, often almost double the yield compared to early season. The difference in quality is huge.
The process of picking olives is done manually, by intense labour when pickers have to go through olive groves and carefully select which olive trees can be harvested. Imperfect fruit will add a defect to the oil.
Processing requires precise coordination.
The moment olives are picked 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 immaculate coordination and logistics, which is easier done and quality 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 quickly, but the mills can only accept a certain amount of olives. As they sit in piles, they begin to deteriorate in quality already.
The olive mill
The question Quantity over Quality comes to play once again at the mill. The longer olive oil stays in the crushing and mixing process, the more juice is extracted, but olive oil will lose nutritional value, aroma and taste.
Olive oils made in limited small quantities and followed by a person with the first and last name are olive oils with a soul and premium controlled quality. We encourage you, always to be in favour of supporting those small independent producers as their products are made with love, hard-work, knowledge and integrity.