From traditional harvesting by hand, to the stainless steel of the new, latest-generation oil press…
The harvesting of the olives starts at the beginning of October and extends throughout the month of November: it is the culmination moment of all the effort made by the olive growers to cultivate their olives in an environment that is, undoubtedly, not one of the best for its growth, as a result of the sloping, rocky terrain. However, it does make it possible to use organic growing methods almost exclusively since the cold winter temperatures kill the natural enemies of the trees, the dreaded Olive Fruit Fly (this insect lays its eggs inside the tree and when the worms hatch during the harvesting season they end up in the olive oil giving the product a “greasy” feeling.)
The harvesting is done by hand directly from the tree using combs. The olives are placed exclusively in plastic crates that have special openings to allow for the aeration necessary to the fruit, and transported the same day to the mill so they can be processed in less than 12 hours.
This step is very important for quality since it does not allow the olives to get warm, which decreases the quality of the extra-virgin olive oil: if the olives remain in storage for even a few days, chemical changes take place in the fruit leading to an increase in acidity and the oxidation of the oil.
The process for obtaining our olive oil begins with the removal of the leaves from the olives using an extractor with a special grill that holds the olives and pulls the leaves off: if the leaves are not removed, they give the olive oil an unpleasant flavour.
After the leaves have been removed the olives are washed in running water using a special machine to eliminate any impurities.
After de-leafing and washing, they move on to the knife crusher, which does not generate heat as it reduces the olives to a paste.
Pressing consists of grinding the pulp and the pit of the olives into a paste This operation takes place in the press, the inside of which contains stainless steel knives specifically designed for this purpose, to prevent the paste from heating up as it is processed.
To increase the concentration of the oil for the subsequent extraction phase, the paste is then remixed at a controlled low temperature in the malaxermachines, which are completely sealed to prevent contact with the oxygen in the air.
The next phase, the separation of the liquid part (oil and water contained in the olives) from the solid part (the olive pomade), happens in a cutting-edge, two-and-a-half-phase decanter without adding water, to reduce to a minimum the washing out phenomenon and the subsequent loss of natural antioxidants.
The last phase is the separation of the oil from the water contained in the olives through centrifuge separators equipped with a special device for heat exchange, which prevents the heating of the oil due to the speed of rotation.
All phases of the process are monitored in real time using heat probes that continually guarantee cold extraction, set at 21°C.
The olive oil that is produced is stored under a layer of inert nitrogen in stainless steel barrels placed in underground storage rooms at a constant temperature of 15°C.
External SINAL accredited laboratories that have been externally accredited by SINAL analyse the chemical characteristics of the olive oil, while the delicate tasting phase is entrusted to Master Tasters who not only have gone through an official selection process to test whether they possess the physiological requisites of an olive oil taster, but have thirty years of experience which allow them to distinguish even the subtlest tastes of the oil, and to determine with certainty if the olive oil falls within one of the four different categories: D.O.P. Umbria, the crowning jewel of the line, Non Filtrato (unfiltered), Fruttato (fruity) and Delicato (delicate). Only the olive oil that gets at least a score equal to or greater than 7 out of 9 points (which, on the professional taster judgement scale, means that it is completely without defects) is bottled by the company.
Filtration is done in the same place with basic filter paper, to eliminate water and pomade residues from the olive oil without adding other chemical substances.