The Olive Oil Making Process
As one of the most advanced olive mills in Europe, the majority of Terra Creta’s new equipment was designed and build in Crete. Most of our manufacturing components have been custom designed by the Terra Creta team. Creating the perfect mill is an art in itself, since you can process the same olives at two different mills and, depending on the process and equipment used, end up with two very different olive oils. Also, at Terra Creta, every piece of machinery used for extracting is made of stainless steel to ensure there is no possible contamination of the oil, either in composition or taste.
The olive oil making process is both simple and natural. Terra Creta’s unique, technologically advanced and efficient olive oil mill can process olives into olive oil within 45 minutes of receiving the olives at the mill. We add nothing. Nature has provided all that is necessary. Since the olives are processed the same day they are harvested, the oil remains very low in acidity and retains its health benefits and distinctive taste. Olive oil is simply a fruit juice, you just squeeze the oil from the olive, and like most natural fruit juices it is extremely healthy due to its rich nutrients and natural beneficial ingredients.
- The olives are harvested from the groves and brought to the olive mill where they are analyzed for quality and quantity. Terra Creta’s onsite laboratory takes a representative sample of each olive batch and uses an intelligent, computerized system to check attributes such as acidity, peroxides and the yield of the crop. Terra Creta has imposed these unique procedures for quality and classification at the time of receipt of the olives in order to better track, maintain, and improve the quality and integrity of our product.
First, each batch is assigned a barcode and entered into the Traceability System. Following delivery of the fresh olives, large fans to blow off any leaves or branches that may have been gathered up with the olives in the nets.
Then the olives are sorted by quality into large silos in preparation for the olive oil extraction.
Once the olives have been sorted, they enter one of Terra Creta’s two production lines for the rest of the process. Terra Creta has a 24-ton per hour reception capability for olives and 11-ton per hour capacity for the production and extraction line.
- The first step in the production line is washing. The olives are washed three times with drinkable water to ensure that all dirt, leaves and foreign materials are removed so that they don’t contaminate the oil.
- In the next phase, the olives proceed to the stainless steel crusher, which crushes the entire olive, including the pit (pip), into an olive paste. This step is important because the amount of crushing and the texture of the paste can change the quality of the olive oil. Therefore, when Terra Creta crushes the olives, what emerges is a chunky particle paste, not creamy or mashed.
- This olive paste is transferred to a large steel tank for malaxation. The tank contains a large steel rotator that constantly stirs the paste as it is gently heated to 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit). After approximately 35 minutes, the paste is ready to proceed to the next step. This part of the process is called ‘cold milling’, a term used by Terra Creta to better describe the process as the term "First Cold Press" is somehow misleading due to the fact that olives nowadays usually are not pressed. At this point, the naturally occurring enzymes are developing the taste and aroma of the oil, so it is a very important stage.
- In the centrifuge, the flesh of the olive along with the pit is separated from the juice of the olive. The separation can either be done by a three- phase (oil-water-solids) or by a two-phase (oil – watery solids) extraction. We use the two-phase extraction as no water is wasted (saving 1,000 liters of water per 1,000 liters of olive oil). In addition to the ecological benefits, two-phase extraction produces a healthier olive oil, as important polyphenols are not washed out by water.
- At this stage, the resulting olive juice is a combination of oil and a little bit of sediment water from the olive residue. The final stage separates these two elements, leaving only the natural olive oil, a pure and natural fruit juice, to be transported to storage tanks and await bottling. The entire process, from reception to bottling is computer automated, in a controlled environment so there is complete control over the production.
The processing of the olive oil extraction is now complete and all that remains is the golden nectar from the most sustainable crop in history. In this spirit, Terra Creta reuses every by-product of the production process in order to foster sustainability in all aspects of the company. Some examples of recycling include:
- The leaves collected from the initial crop are given back to the farmers to feed their livestock.
- The pomace of the olive removed in the centrifuge, is given to the pomace oil factory for pomace oil extraction and dry pomace production (used as a fuel).
The dry pomace is also used as fuel to heat the water during the malaxation stage, as well as to heat our production facilities. The use of water at the mill is minimal, saving precious resources.
Key characteristics of Terra Creta’s olive mill
- Innovative design, fully automated production offering lower production costs and total control of every step in production
- Continuous extraction, quality classification of all olives on arrival and two-phase extraction guarantee the highest quality of olive oil
- Environmentally friendly construction using solar tubes for internal lighting system and two-phase extraction techniques to minimize water-waste and environmental pollution
- All production machinery was designed by the development team of Terra Creta and made from 100% stainless steel 316L, with 85% of all machinery and equipments manufactured on the island of Crete.
- International certification with IFS, ISO 22000:2005 (HACCP), ISO 9001:2008, Kosher, BIOHELLAS, NOP-USDA, KRAV and ECOCERT for Organic Olive Oil extraction