Olive Harvesting – How Great Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gets to Your Table

Updated: Aug 27



The unique and unforgettable taste of our Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is no accident. It’s the result of several factors that come to fruition every year at harvest time. The tradition goes back hundreds of years at our family’s olive farm near Colletorto, a small town in Molise region, Italy.


>Read also: Growing and Farming Olives - What It’s Like Being An Olive Farmer


Critical factors when harvesting olives for EVOO


What’s important is the olive variety itself, how the olive trees have been cared for, the timing of the harvest, and the extraction method. There are five important steps to ensure the olive crop yields up its best EVOO:

  • Growing the best olives.

  • Timing for the perfect ripeness – early and late harvests produce different qualities.

  • Rapid processing to maintain freshness.

  • Correct pressing technique and equipment.

  • Climate controlled hygienic storage and bottling.


Why the olive variety is so important


Only great olives make premium extra virgin olive oil. Our variety is Gentile Nera (gentle black) produces low-acidity EVOO of the highest quality to deliver superior health benefits and culinary excellence.


Olive trees last for hundreds of years, so it’s vital to choose a variety that practically guarantees success in the quality stakes. After that it’s down to location, microclimate, and local know-how.


We embrace the strictest organic farming standards. We are certified by Suolo e Salute®, a control body authorised by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.


Timing the harvest is one of the big decisions for all olive growers


Many activities must be planned in advance of actual picking, such as booking harvest contractors and labour. Smaller growers must book a slot at the local mill. We are lucky enough to manage our own pressing, storage and bottling facilities.


Early harvesting of green, unripe olives produces an EVOO extremely rich in precious polyphenols (anti-oxidants). It means a longer shelf life and more pungent, peppery olive oil. Pressing takes longer because it’s more difficult to extract the oil than from ripe olives.


Late harvesting takes place as the olives ripen (called veraison) from green to purple and eventually darken when they are fully ripe. Mature olives produce a sweeter, golden olive oil with a higher yield. They are softer and more easily damaged during harvesting, which takes place roughly between mid-November to early December.


How we harvest olives from groves of olive trees


Manual harvesting has changed very little in hundreds of years. Nets are laid underneath the tree and the fruit must be shaken from the tree – it’s the only way. It used to be done by beating the branches with sticks and you would see teams of workers in the early morning mist.


Nowadays, mechanical devices like pneumatic rakes and machines do the job more efficiently, but the basic shaking technique remains the same. The harvested olives are taken straight to our milling facility where the extraction process begins immediately for maximum freshness.


Speed is essential


12 hours is the total time we allow from harvesting to milling. That guarantees freshness, low acidity and high antioxidant levels in our extra virgin olive oil products.


Processing olives after harvesting must be done correctly at low temperature


Olive oil has been made in basically the same way for thousands of years. Olives are first crushed to a paste before the solids are filtered out. Then any water in the juice is extracted, leaving 100 percent pure extra virgin olive oil.


The extraction method is crucial and tightly controlled by high quality growers like us. This is because it determines the quality and sensory qualities such as taste, colour and aroma.


Cold-pressing is done using modern decanter centrifuge systems and the temperature is kept to about 27°C (80°F).


No solvents, additives, artificial flavours, heat or GMO are added in any phase of the quality-monitored production process.


Then the EVOO is stored in steel vats or silos, inside temperature-controlled warehouses that meet the highest hygiene standards. Eventually we bottle it by hand and distribute it all over the world.


What makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil different from refined “light” or “pure” olive oil?


Some olive oil is of such pure quality that it is simply not marketable. The manufacturers refine it to make it palatable.


Refining is an industrial process that uses heat and chemical solvents to strip all of nature’s goodness from the oil. Then they may add good olive oil or flavourings to the resulting product (read more about it in our two guides about EVOO vs refined olive oil and EVOO vs vegetable oils).


By contrast, EVOO must meet strict quality standards to be called Extra Virgin. For example, acidity levels must be below 0.8% compared with typical 2% levels of other olive oil.


The best EVOOs are assessed by connoisseurs who judge them by flavour, pungency, colour and so on. It’s a real skill, comparable with wine tasting by true experts.


With Timperio, you can be 100 percent certain that you are getting the very best, premium quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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OLEIFICIO TIMPERIO S.N.C.

CORSO VITTORIO EMANUELE, 19

86044 COLLETORTO (CB) ITALY

Tel. e Fax: 0874. 730191  

P.IVA 00834010704

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