While the basic outlines of the process remain the same, there are hundreds of variations. The variety of olives, of course, makes a huge difference, as does location. Weather plays an important role every year, as does pruning (or not).
Another big factor in the quality of olive oil also depends on where you have it pressed. Unless you are a big commercial olive oil producer, no one has their own olive press. Everyone goes to a local mill to have their olives turned into oil.
But which mill to go to? We have a mill very to our house in Umbria , which I made a video of last year. We went to this one for years, mostly because it was the nearest, but also because is was basically the only show in town. Most of olive mills around Umbria were more or less like this one.
But about 15 years or so ago the process started to be modernized, with new, stainless steel machines taking the place of weary hydraulic presses and round straw mats.
So for the last few years we have been taking our olives to other, more modern, mills. And this year headed to the next village over, in Morre, to a bright and shiny new mill opened by a group of young men. The machines may not have the charm of the old place, but the oil that comes out in the end is extraordinary. The big difference in this new system is that it is a ‘closed circuit’ and so the olives, once mashed, have very little chance to be exposed to air and oxidize. Also, if you take the time to compare last year’s video and this year’s, you’ll certainly notice a difference in the level of, well, hygiene.
This year we picked very early, in mid October, and managed to get our olives to the mill the same day we picked. This means that while we didn’t get a lot of oil, the oil we did get was fantastic. Unbelievably green. And, as always, at least in my eyes, miraculous.
The Frantoio we went to:
05020 Baschi (Tr) – Italy
+39 329 8169799
They also sell fantastic olive oil if you happen to be in the area and don’t have access to your own olive grove.