Prior to this year picking of the olives was done by hand. This year as our trees have grown and are producing more and more olives, we took the decision to have a machine pick for us.
It has proven to be a worthy decision as olives are picked and pressed quickly giving us top quality olive oil and olives.
Fruit is harvested in autumn. The fruit is harvested green (unripe), turning colour (half ripe) or black (ripe) between February and June each year. The fruit is then processed.
Olive oil is extracted from healthy fruit between March and June each year.
There are two types of machinery used for extraction. The traditional press is a series of mats on which layers of olives are placed in paste forms, squeezed to extract oil and water then oil is separated from the oil.
This method is labour intensive and unhygienic and has been replaced.
The most modern factories use hygienic continuous flow oil extraction machines. These machines allow for a single person to add olives at one end where they are washed and crushed into a paste.
The paste is then mixed to start the separation of the oil. It then goes through a centrifuge which separates the oil and water from the paste. From there to a separator which divides the oil from the water.
The olive oil from Mt Stirling Olive farm is cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil.
Olives for table use are processed in brine. Green olives take longer to process naturally than black ripe olives. Processing of olives for the table can take from three months and up to twelve months depending on the variety, maturation level of the fruit, temperature, salt and PH levels of the brine.