Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing fresh olives by mechanical means and extracting the juice. The olives must be fresh, from the current harvest, and those olives must be ripe and in good condition.
First, the harvest. The olives are first hand picked using a net and a plastic rake or wooden stick. The olive harvest happens during the fall, right before the colder weather sets in. The olives are then washed, and stored in crates at the mill, known as frantoio in Italy. The whole process must happen at low temperatures, which is called cold-pressing, so it’s important that the mill is kept cool, and that they olives are not exposed to the heat.
In the mill, the olives are first washed, then ground. The grinding must be slow , which makes for uniform oil. Then the ground olives are pressed between two stones, which separates the olive juice into oil, vegetable water and pomace, the latter ejected. There is further separation by centrifuge, which removes the water from the oil, and finally all that remains is yellow-gold olive oil.
This method is called the first pressing, which is the process that makes all extra virgin olive oil.
After the pressing, the extra virgin olive oil is stored in steel vats and left to decant for several weeks before being sent to bottling. Before the final bottling stage, the olive oil is tested to see if it passes the taste test. Extra virgin olive oil should have a very pungent olive taste, with piquant peppery notes and a distinct fruitiness. This intensity is a testament to the high amount of properties and antioxidants that are so prized in this liquid gold.