Last week my wife and I took a trip to Italy to visit family and whilst there my Aunt and Uncle took me to visit their oil grove In a little town called Bonito. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the process of creating virgin olive oil. After picking the olives they get ground under as granite mill stone and then gets pressed.
We started the day off in the olive groves on the top of the hill collecting the olives by shaking the branches and raking them through with a fine rake. We spread nets under the trees. And then when we had finished we rolled the nets up to collect the olives and put them into baskets.
The next process was putting the olives into a machine, which sieves them and gets rid of unwanted parts like the leaves. Then it goes into a machine which is like a hopper and they then get drawn into that to the mill stones. Then from the mill stones they get put into the press.
From there they go into big barrels and they can take the virgin olive oil (the lightest oil at the top) to sell.
I had no idea that olives varied in colour so much!
The picture below of the big wheal is where the olives are crushed.
The dry powder pictured here is the remains of the olive which includes the olive nut. It gets recycled into pellets that are used in bio fuel boilers so nothing gets wasted in the process.