Aug 302013

Just nine seats left for UC Davis Master Olive Oil Milling Short Course.

Learn to mill olive oil with one of the top extra virgin olive oil producers in the world, Leandro Ravetti, of Boundary Bend Ltd in Australia. He will be teaching at UC Davis in October and you have just a few more days to get a discount.

I took this class last year and it was great. Follow this link to sign up.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Oct 102012

Last week Olive Crazy went back to California. This time for two olive milling and olive oil production courses taught by Pablo Canamasas at the University of California at Davis. Pablo is the oil production technical manager at Boundary Bend Limited, which is Australia’s largest olive oil producer. Boundary Bend is owned by Cobram Estate and has many grove locations in the country.

I enjoyed the introductory course, but was very pleased with the detail in the advanced milling course. Pablo is a wonderful teacher.

The Olive Center at the University made available to the students the Olive to Bottle mobile mill as a process and equipment viewing aid. I took a short video for you and edited out the sound since the mill was in partial action and was loud. This is my virgin upload to YouTube. There is room for improvement but I’m not unhappy with the result.

The main thing missing in the video is the oil coming out at the end. The olive paste was still very dry and the oil had not yet been released. When you see the open metal grid with the auger churning, that is the dry olive paste. The millers are adding enzymes (brown liquid in the plastic cup) to break down the pectins and water (the hose) as processing aids. The stuff bubbling in the tube at the end into the yellow bins is some of the separated water. It was stinky.

The coffin-like piece of equipment is the decanter. It is a centrifuge which separates the oil from the water and the paste. It is a fascinating device made even more fascinating because you can’t actually see what’s going on inside. The miller must use his or her experience to intuit all that’s happening in there.

The olives that are being milled are early harvest Arbequinas. The smell coming off the bin was rich and inviting. I can still remember the scent.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Jun 302011

It’s time to go to the videos. Olive oil milling and pressing is a complicated business that’s not easy to describe. Here are three videos that give you a good idea of some of the milling processes used today and some idea of how picking by hand takes place.

An important point to note before watching is that you will not be seeing the same milling equipment used in all cases. Some are new technologies and some ancient. I think of milling as an art form and each miller has his or her preferences in the type of equipment used to separate the olive from it’s oil.

The first video is from the Discovery Network, Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs – Olive Oil Presser“. The second video is from Italy and comes complete with music and vigorous harvesting (wait and see). It is Fernando Pensato’s “How to Make Extra Virgin Olive Oil“. The third video is “Watch Olive Oil being made at The Olive Press in Sonoma, California” and is narrated by Deborah Rogers, Master Olive Maker and cofounder of The Olive Press (the subject of tomorrow’s article).

Pop some corn and spray extra virgin olive oil on it.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Jun 212011

How many of us have been taught to plan for success when we engage in any business venture? All – I hope. The same planning requirements hold true for the olive oil business, but I am not seeing success planning taking place in some of the new olive growing regions of the world – those that are hoping to produce and sell extra virgin olive oil and other olive oils.

Growing olives for olive oil production is increasing worldwide and I am surprised at the minimalistic approach to the next step after growing and harvesting by new olive growing regions. One area of concern is the inadequate planning made for milling. Milling is the modern and more accurate term for pressing olives and extracting oil.

Many of the areas now growing olives either have never grown olives for commercial production, or did in the past but not recently. Whether the growers in these regions separately or collectively plan to have their produce milled on their own property, nearby, or are contracted with someone else who will take on the milling and beyond, the facts are that milling operations must be close at hand and sufficient in capacity.

Why is this so important? The oxidation process in the olive begins as soon as it is separated from the tree. In order to get quality olive oil, olives should be milled not much past 24 hours and there are few reliable storage options that do not damage the olive and exacerbate the oxidation process.

The worldwide demand for olive oil is growing, so let’s plan for success and sufficient milling equipment is key.

May the sun shine through your branches.