The Olive Press

Olive Oil Pressing at The Olive Press WairarapaPeople have used olive presses since Greeks first began pressing olives over 5,000 years ago but, needless to say, methods have evolved over the years and centuries to the more hi-tech process we have today.

The basic steps in making olive oil are always the same, no matter what kind of equipment is used. The first step is cleaning the olives and removing the stems, leaves, twigs, and other debris collected at harvest. Light contaminants such as leaves are removed by a blower and heavy objects will sink in the water bath.

The olives are then crushed into a paste. The purpose of crushing is to tear the flesh cells, causing the release of the oil from the vacuoles. The paste is mixed to allow small oil droplets to combine into bigger ones.

The next step is to separate the oil from the rest of the olive components. This used to be done with presses (hence the now somewhat obsolete terms ‘first press’ and ‘cold press’), but is now done by centrifusion, except in old facilities.

The oil is then left in tanks or barrels where a final separation, if needed, happens through gravity. This is called ‘racking’ the oil.

Finally the oil can be filtered, if desired.

At The Olive Press we operate a state-of-the-art press with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour.