"When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth." - Genesis 8 v 11.
All production begins by transforming the olive fruit into olive paste. This paste is then malaxed (slowly churned or mixed) to allow the microscopic oil droplets to concentrate. The oil is extracted by means of pressure (traditional method) or centrifugation (modern method). After extraction the remnant solid substance, called pomace, still contains a small quantity of oil, which are further processed.
The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:
- Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The term virgin oil referring to production is different from Virgin Oil on a retail label. On a retail label this oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
- Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries. It is used on salads, garnishing appetiser plates, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
- Refined Oil means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil; oils with the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil. In commercial labels, this grade is usually referred to as Pure Olive Oil or Olive Oil this means it is made out of a blend of refined and virgin production oil. This type is the most commonly used by home cooks and is usually used for all applications.
- Olive Pomace Oil means oil extracted from the pomace using solvents, mostly hexane, and by subjection to heat. Pamace oil is often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.
Proceeds from all sales will fund the expensive and extensive preservation program that covers anything from soil erosion & disease prevention to funding 'the Sisters' plant nursery, Roman Mill and library.