About our processes
In the past, olives were harvested by pickers beating them from the trees with poles, Today olives are harvested by hand for table eating. Using mechanical harvesting (or shaking) and raking the fruit from the trees onto nets for oil production. It is important to crush the olives to extract the olive oil within hours of harvesting in order to avoid loss of quality and flavour.
Oil production was based on two major steps: 1) crushing the olives using a crushing stone; and, 2) collecting the olive juice in a basket. The olive juice would contain both water and oil. After a few days, the lighter oil would separate from and float above the water, enabling it to be collected and stored in dark jars.Today we mostly use centrifuge machinery to extract the oil, leaving little or nil water content in our oil, thereby improving its quality.
As soon as the olives are harvested from the trees they are taken back to the processing plant where they are stored under airconditioning until they are placed in the crushing machine. The time frame from harvesting to crushing is usually within hours. All the crushing is also prefromed under airconditioning so as to produce a cold pressed product.
Once the oil has been collected it is then stored in stainless steel barrel under a nitrition blanket and in a temperture controled enviorment. This ensures absoutely no oxegen, heat or light comes in contact with the oil, before it is then bottled ready for sale.
There are many ways of processing olives for eating. Traditional methods use the natural microflora of the fruit and procedures which select for those flora that ferment the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration. At Sommariva we choose to process our table olives in the natural traditional method.
All of our table eating olives are hand-picked so as to avoid bruising. Then they are taken back to the processing plant where they are washed and sorted so that only the very best fruit are processed. The fruit is then placed in large brining barrels where they are cured in a salt-brine, and the PH and salt levels are monitored until they are de-bittered enough to eat. During this time the barrels are stored in a temperature controlled environment for the de-bittering process. What happens during this process is that brine draws the bitterness from the fruit; this may take several months for black olives and twelve months or more for green olives.
Once this process is complete we then regrade the olives and they are bottled into a fresh brine solution and then pasteurised ready for sale. All water used to process our olives is purified through a double charcoal filter then through a UV light filtration system, which is the only way to kill all bacteria in water including salmonella. Boiling water alone will not kill the harmful organisms that can cause food poisoning.