The olive mill

The grinding of the olives

Olives in the mill:

Once the olives are collected, they are taken to the mill so that the oil can be extracted. There are several types of mills, but, by the way of working, we could distinguish two types:

  • modern mill
    In modern mills or olive mills the process is fully mechanized

    Traditional: Now practically extinct, which consists of crushing the olives with a large stone wheel (the so-called mill wheels). The pulp thus obtained is placed in flat containers made of esparto grass and squeezed with a press. Done in this way, a high quality virgin oil is obtained, provided that the olives have been harvested a few hours before from the top of the tree. This method has been reduced to a few rather testimonial oil mills of limited production.

  • Industrial: They are carried out in modern oil mills equipped with technologically more advanced machines. Among these we can consider those that carry out a mechanical or physical extraction process and those that obtain oil from chemical procedures. The first are intended to produce virgin olive oil. To do this, they perform the following tasks:
    • Cleaning the olives, as they come from the field, to remove the leaves, soil or twigs.
    • Crushing the olives to form a compact paste.
    • Pressing the paste.
    • Decantation and centrifugation: with this it is possible to separate the oil from the water.
    • Filtering: which eliminates the possible impurities that escape from the previous processes.

The mills that carry out extraction through chemical procedures are in charge of processing those residual oils from the previous process, obtaining oil from the olive pomace or treating those oils that, due to their high acidity, are not suitable for human consumption. The refining process involves both the elimination of unpleasant tastes and odors, resulting from the fatty acid fermentation process, and the elimination of excess pigmentation. During these procedures the product is subjected to contact with absorbent products and to high temperatures.

settle tank
oil obtained
Settling tanks
Oil obtained after the spinning process.

The cultivation of the olive tree

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Properties of raw virgin olive oilOlive oil propertiesTypes of olive oil


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punto rojo More information on olive tree

This article was endorsed by Vicente Martínez Centelles - Founder of the web and director. Teacher of natural sciences, expert in plants, natural remedies and botanical photography.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

3 May, 2021

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