From Olives to Oil: the Frantoio

21 Oct

When I left off last, things looked like this.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Olive picking was complete and it was time to take the olives to the frantoio, or oil mill.

Niccolo and Edoardo loaded their family’s olives into their car and we drove a short distance to the beautiful Frantoio Landi,

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©Blogginginitaly.com

a frantoio that has been in the family for years.

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Here we were met by Massimo, the owner, who helped “pour” the olives into one of the mill’s standard sized containers.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Next, the olives were moved to a large scale to be weighed.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Grand total we picked: 148.5 kg.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The minimum weight needed to process is 300 kg, so the Olivieri olives would be combined with those of two friends. In the meantime, Lorenzo, one of the sons, patiently gave us a tour and explanation of the harvesting process before it would begin the next day.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Years ago, horses or oxen were used to turn the grinding wheels.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The old grinding wheels are still available at the frantoio and are sometimes used based on demand. Olives in Tuscany are usually harvested during October and November, depending on weather, so there can be a huge demand during a very short period of the year.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Time to begin the process. The olives we picked are combined with two others to achieve the minimum weight. When you look at the faces of the growers, you can see the pride they have in their olives and sense their anticipation.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The combined olives are dropped into a large hopper

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©Blogginginitaly.com

where the olives are carried on a ladder conveyor to the washer.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

During the washing process, leaves and stems are removed, and are sent via a pipe to an outside holding  container. Nothing goes to waste in the process.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The washed olives are moved to another hopper

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

and then into a grinding/crushing machine, or martellatura.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Here the olives and pits are crushed into an olive paste, which is pumped into a mixing machine.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The olive paste is mixed slowly for 45 minutes. This is the first instance we could smell the wonderful olive oil fragrance.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The next step is the pressing, where a centrifuge spins the mixture at high speeds and separates the mixture into three parts: oil, water and pomace and the pomace is removed.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The heavier water is then removed in a second centrifuge. And then, the unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil moves through a tube and suddenly begins to pour out into a stainless steel container.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

It is quite an amazing sight!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

When the oil has stopped flowing, it is carefully measured and divided into containers for the growers.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Smiles abound and all are eager to sample the results.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Being in Italy in the fall has given us some incredible new experiences, and participating in an olive harvest has been one of our very best. Hopefully my description of the process, with a great deal of help from Len, is pretty accurate. What we know for certain is that picking the olives was wonderful, and being able to watch them move through the process to the final product was sensational.  And of course, as you might guess, there is nothing quite like the taste and flavor of olio nuovo – the new oil. From olives to oil – nature at its very best.

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

10 Responses to “From Olives to Oil: the Frantoio”

  1. chefceaser October 21, 2015 at 2:44 AM #

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

    Like

  2. jean October 21, 2015 at 7:35 AM #

    Fabulous, Judy! Going out to the olive harvest tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Giovanni October 21, 2015 at 8:08 AM #

    Awesome Judy! This is a special post for me since it hits close to home. Growing up and before immigrating to Chicago, my dad worked at an olive processing plant in Bari. Of course, in his native dialect it was called the ”traput”. His recollections where that of really hard work. I’m thrilled to have finally seen a small slice of his experience – albeit a very modernized version. He was born in 1914, so my guess is that mules were still in use. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • blogginginitaly October 21, 2015 at 8:15 AM #

      Giovanni, so happy to share with you! You’d love doing this, and of course, you could make the pane for the tasting!!!

      Like

  4. annagrassini October 21, 2015 at 8:45 AM #

    When John and I got married, he thought every Italian came with an Olive grove…my parents have since given away theirs, but my uncle still has his. And I think the fragrance of olio nuovo is one of the great pleasures of life. Olio nuovo, vino vecchio. It always irks me that in the US olive oil is not marked with a date–in Italy, it is obligatory! And after one year, olive oil is only good for cooking!

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  5. Julia Spina-Kilar October 21, 2015 at 9:27 AM #

    Fascinating information! How exciting to have this “up close and personal ” experience. Thank you for sharing. 😊

    Like

    • blogginginitaly October 21, 2015 at 9:31 AM #

      Julia, I was really hoping to convey the experience. Thanks for writing!

      Like

  6. Deb Feo October 21, 2015 at 9:35 AM #

    But you must tell us how much oil you pressed? How many gallons?

    Like

    • blogginginitaly October 21, 2015 at 9:53 AM #

      Of course you would ask! It was about a 10% yield. I believe “our” olives yielded just under 15 litres.

      Like

  7. Julia Spina-Kilar October 21, 2015 at 9:37 AM #

    What fantastic “up close and personal ” information. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences. 😊

    Like

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