Olive oil: our passion
"When I started working in the countryside I knew very little about the cultivation of the olive tree, the production of oil and especially about what extra virgin olive oil must be. To become aware of these things I attended several courses that made me understand how I must work if I want to achieve a high quality product. Today I am an official oil taster according to the COI method and I am committed to producing an oil that reflects what I have learned "
Maria Angela Macchia
The olive trees
About 900 olive trees grow on our land, there are many cultivars (varieties of olive trees) but the classic Tuscan Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoio and Pendolino prevail. Most of the trees are very old as they are already present in the 1822 Leopoldine archive maps. About 250 trees, were planted on one hectare in the year 2000. We decided right from the start to follow the EC regulations relating to organic certification. Ours was one of the first farms to make this choice in the area.
The olive harvest begins in early October and unlikely extends beyond November 15. This in fact is the best time to obtain a product with excellent organoleptic characteristics and avoid some issues which in organic farming are very difficult to control not being able to make use of pesticides. The olives are made to drop on large nets from the plant (olives already on the ground are never harvested!), the lower part is worked by hand, for the upper part an electric comb is used which avoids the dangerous use of ladders. The olives thus collected are put into small perforated boxes in which air can circulate in order to avoid the beginning of harmful fermentations. Every evening all the olives are taken to the mill and pressed. The very short storage time helps obtaining extra virgin olive oil with very low acidity.
The olive pressing
We work with the Frantoio of Vicopisano, which is not very close, but we chose to bring there our olives because of the workers' professionalism and for several other reasons. In fact, they are one of the few olive oil mills where the processing of organic olives is done every day, it is possible to press relatively small amounts of olives (in some years the daily harvest does not exceed 200 kg), using modern machines to guarantee a temperature lower than 27° C (cold extraction) and an accurate cleaning.
The leaves are blown away and the olives are washed and then crushed, broken into small pieces. Immediately after they are ground in closed stainless steel tanks, a phase which lasts about 25 minutes, then the pulp passes into a centrifuge where the solid and the liquid part are separated. The emulsion of oil and water undergoes another centrifugation so as to obtain the pure oil. The whole process takes about an hour.
We bring back to the farm the oil and after filtering it we can finally bottle it. Experience has taught us that filtration is very important to lengthen the life of an oil and maintain its quality over time. It is very important to keep the oil in a clean container, away from strong odors, protected from light (for this reason we prefer dark glass bottles or cans) and with a temperature between 9° C and 25° C.
The extra virgin olive oil
The first thing you should know to define an extra virgin olive oil is, as you read on the label, that it must be obtained directly from olives and exclusively through mechanical processes. The different commercial classifications are based on some chemical parameters.
The most famous is percentage of "oleic acid" present generally called "acidity". Our sense cannot measure the acidity, only chemical analysis can do it. When the oil taste is spicy doesn't mean that it has high acidity. In extra virgin olive oil acidity must be less than 0.8%. With our sense we perceive sweet, spicy, bitter, features that extra virgin olive oil must have and if it has defects like rancid, mold, grime, winey.. If tasting an oil we perceive them probably it is not extravirgin..