We are Certified Organic!
Extra virgin olive oil is an olive oil that has undergone certain chemical and sensory tests to determine if it is extra virgin grade. These tests define a set of parameters that the oil must meet that are set forth by the USDA and the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) which are recognized as the most stringent establishments in the world to pass a particular oil as extra virgin. Each year our oil is tested for extra virgin grade quality by the COOC.
The first and most traditional is called “milking” of the tree (ordeña) where the olives are collected by hand in a small basket tied to the waist of the harvester. This method is a softer method of harvesting in that the tree and fruit don’t get damaged. But this method is more difficult to do in sloped groves or in high density ones and is slower The second way of harvesting is using mechanical methods like pneumatic or electric powered vibrating rakes that shake the tree limbs and make the fruit fall into nets placed under each tree.
In the agro-industry, tall tractor-like machines go over each tree raking them and collecting the fruit into bins at the same time. The machines are used on farms with a lot of acreage and thousands of trees.
Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical means. The traditional process of making olive oil is generally done by first grinding the olives into a paste with large mill stones. The grinding process exposes oil stored in what are called “vacuoles” within the cells of the olive. Every cell contains a tiny droplet of oil. The olive paste is typically ground under the mill stones for 30 to 40 minutes. After grinding, the paste is then spread onto disks made of fibrous material. The disks are stacked on top of each other in a column. Pressure is applied onto the column to separate the vegetal liquid from the paste. The liquid contains oil along with a significant amount of water. The oil is then separated from the water by gravity. This is a slow separation process and results in the oil being “softer” in character.
The modern method of milling involves grinding the olives into a paste by what is called the “hammer”. The paste is then fed into a separate chamber called a “malaxer” which is a mixer with rotating blades. The malaxing or churning process allows the smaller droplets of oil to collect into bigger pools of oil which makes separation of the oil from the paste easier. Subsequently, the olive paste is pumped into a horizontal centrifuge which separates the oil from the ground olive pits and skins (leftover vegetal material called “alpecine”). The centrifuge is a device that spins the malaxed paste at high speeds and creates a strong centripetal force causing the denser alpecine to be removed more rapidly than it would under the force of gravity as in the traditional method. This method of oil extraction is more thorough and efficient than the traditional method.
First Press refers to when the olives are processed only once. First Press results in the highest quality and purity of olive oil. Cold press means that the olives are pressed by mechanical means only. Cold pressing requires that no heat is added which ruins antioxidants. It also requires that pressing occurs below 81°F.