The stages of production
The quality of the end product has always been our main objective. All stages of production are keenly followed by our experienced oil pressers, Luca Perna, the owner, and Giampaolo, his son. They are masters in the art of oil extraction and their attention to detail has guaranteed optimum results. Our plant operates a continual cycle. Our Pieralisi system operates integral, centrifugal extraction with the most innovative technology. There are various stages to the process of pressing:
- olives are stored
- olives are washed under running water and defoliated
- olives are crushed using a ‘frangitore’ (crusher) to make a paste
- the paste is kneaded at a specific temperature
- a decanter extracts the oil using a centrifugal action
- a separater machine separates the oil from the residual water content using a centrifugal method
In order to obtain an excellent extra virgin olive oil not only must every stage of the pressing process be carefully monitored, the olive trees themselves must be taken good care of right up to the harvest. Harvesting olives and then storing them for several days or picking sick olives that have fallen from the trees or others that have been blown from their branches by the wind will only result in a sub-standard end product.
The degree of ripeness of the olives at the time they are harvested greatly influences the intensity of the oil’s flavour and aroma. There is a period, usually the first ten days of November, when the olives are at their most ripe and, if harvested now, will confer the strongest, fruity aroma to the oil. Olives harvested after this period will generally produce less fruity, less ‘lively’ oil.
Of course, the method used to crush the olives will also influence the oil’s flavour. In oil mills that operate a continual cycle, like ours, the olive paste is kneaded in an environment which is warm but never rises above 27 degrees Celsius. Our plant is equipped with electronic devices to check the temperature. The ICQRF – Repressioni Frodi di Pisa (Anti-Fraud Agency in Pisa) has approved and certified these devices and has given us authorization to print the words “Estratto Freddo” (Cold Extraction) on our labels. This guarantees the original organoleptic properties and health standards of our oil.
Great attention is paid to the length of time for which the olives are kneaded. If the paste is kneaded for too long, it will begin to oxidize and the oil’s flavour will suffer.
We also ensure the water used during the extraction is not very hot as this would confer a rather bitter or spicy taste to the end product.
We take care to remove all leaves from the olives when they enter the grinding process. The intense aroma that leaves bring about is not desirable.
Agricultural production of olives and olive oil
The olive is a typical Mediterranean plant which takes root easily in this area which enjoys mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. It is found almost everywhere across Italy, except Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont. It grows anywhere between sea level and 550 metres above sea level.
Ideally, the olive tree has as much exposure to sunlight as possible. It likes a soil of medium texture rich in organic substances. Given that the olive tree tends to absorb water too freely, it grows best where the land is well drained. It is important to choose the cultivar most suited to the land and its environment.
The varieties most suited to Tuscany are: Frantoio, Leccino and Moraiolo.