How to make olive oil

BY Marshall Brain / POSTED January 31, 2011
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Most people come into contact with olives in one of three ways:

  1. There are the olives that go on pizzas and into into dinner entrees
  2. There are the olives (with pimentos) that go into martinis
  3. And there is olive oil

But it seems odd – how can the fleshy olives found in dinners and drinks also produce oil? Here is the answer to that question:

Watching that video, you can see the steps:

  • You grow the olives on olive trees
  • You harvest the olives by knocking them out of trees onto cloths laid on the ground
  • You wash the olives and separate out as many leaves as you can
  • You crush the olives into a paste using large rolling stones. If you’ve ever seen an olive as it comes off a tree, you know that it has a very hard seed inside, sort of like a miniaturized peach pit. These seeds get crushed too.
  • (Not shown but very likely – you spin the paste in a centrifuge to separate the oil – there is a shot of a centrifuge in the final video below)
  • You bottle the oil

Here is another version that shows the use of a different crushing technology as well as the use of a malaxer. The malaxer is a simple device that gently stirs the olive paste to release the oil. The removal of oxygen from the malaxer prevents oxidation of the oil during this process:

Before centrifuges, the olives were crushed and then pressed in hydraulic presses to squeeze the oil out of the paste. In this video you can see the whole process:

In this final video there is a shot of one of the centrifuges. You can learn more about the Valente centrifuge here:

If you want to learn about the differences between extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, regular olive oil, etc., this page and this page can help.

See also:
- How It’s Made: Virgin Olive Oil
- Olive

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