new oil

Extra virgin Umbrian olive oil is considered one of the best oils in the world for quality, bouquet and taste.

“Olio nuovo” – new oil-  is what we call the olive oil when is just pressed. In contrast with most wines, olive oil is at its best when fresh. Just like we do, most Umbrian olives are picked between the end of October and mid-November. Therefore “new oil” is anything produced and sold in the last part of the year. The new olive oil is fragrant and peppery. After 3-4 months it becomes smoother and slightly sweeter but still intense. A good extra virgin olive oil remains a delicious condiment for at least a year.

Most olive farms in Umbria are rather small, counting anything from 20 to a few hundred trees. People picks olives quickly and brings them to the mill  when they have at least 3-400 kg (approx. 650-800 pounds). Mills are owned by cooperatives of farmers or by large farms.

Here below is the mill (frantoio) where we  our olives  were processed at the beginning of December.

The Valorosi frantoio near Assisi, a family run operation
The Valorosi frantoio near Assisi, a family run operation

Olives move from right to left in the series of machines above. Whole olives are first washed, then crushed into a pulp and subsequently kneaded to separate oil from water. The crushing machine cannot be opened during operation, so unfortunately  I have  no picture for it.

washing, crushing and kneading
what happens at the mill: removing leaves, washing olives and kneading the olive paste

The resulting olive paste is subsequently centrifuged and filtered to obtain olive oil. The whole process is kept at relatively low temperature, around 20 C (68 F) to avoid oxidation and loss of flavor. The olive oil is transferred into stainless steel containers and the exhaust olive pulp (pumace) is transported outside.

For more details on classification of olive oils and their production please give a look at this excellent olive oil glossary.

centrifuge, containers and left overs of olive oil production
centrifuge, containers and left overs of olive oil production

At this stage, while we see the golden liquid filling our tanks, we feel very happy. After many days of hard work, we run home and enjoy the first fragrant slice of bruschetta of the new season.

The mill works 24 h a day for several weeks, these guys are lucky if they are ready for Christmas. Thank you guys!

the frantoio workers are in good spirits even if very busy!
the frantoio workers are in good spirits even if very busy!

3 thoughts on “new oil

  1. Letizia, that oil looks so beautiful. And the workers DO look like they’re having fun (perhaps they get to keep some of the young oil!)

    I hope you don’t mind, I’d like to add a link to your blog on my blog’s list of favourite sites.


  2. Don’t you love an olive press? In New Zealand, we harvest in May and June. In our grove we have two Italian varieties (Frantoio and Leccino), plus Spanish, Israeli and Palestinian. Harvest for us is this weekend. Can’t wait.


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