Making Extra Virgin Olive Oil – A Unique Spice for Mediterranean Cuisine!
Making extra virgin olive oil today is done almost the same exact way as our ancestors use to do hundreds of years ago. Every year, just before winter begins the family Mujo at Holiday Village “Kameni Dvori” make their extra virgin olive oil!
It’s not done with a stone wheel oil mill any more but, still made from organic grown, pure natural olives that grow on olive trees. In Croatia, olive oil is an old tradition and a vital part of the local cuisine . Just as in other Mediterranean countries, many small rural villages along Croatia’s coast, regularly make olive oil (up to a few hundred litres) for themselves.
One 300 Year Old Olive Tree
As a crop, olive trees can easily grow very, very old! Some, even over a thousand years old! They need to be nurtured and well taken care of, especially in the hot summer periods to bare olive fruits and be harvested in late October or November every year.
The Mediterranean climate seems to be ideal for growing and harvesting olive trees and best place for making extra virgin olive oil!
Making Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This short video was shot on a beautiful November day in Konavle area of Dubrovnik. It shows the harvest of one 300+ year old olive tree that gave cca. 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of fresh olives.
Right after the harvest, the olives were cold pressed at the local oil mill to produce some 9 litres of extra virgin olive oil (25 ml or 75 ml green bottles). In Konavle you can still visit several old mills with stone presses where the oil was produced for centuries.
Olive oil also has many grades of quality, depending on production methods. From refined, Ordinary Virgin olive oil, Virgin olive oil, to Extra Virgin olive oil as the highest grade of quality. Most people are slightly confused from the two most common labelling expressions of quality grades; “Virgin” & “Extra Virgin”.
Virgin means the oil is produced by the use of mechanical means only and with no chemical treatment or additions. Free acidity of up to 1.5% (considered good taste)!
Extra Virgin defines oil as only from virgin production & it contains no more than 0.8% free acidity (superior taste)!
These two grades of olive oils contain the highest levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that are linked to healthier diets!
Today, many have moved to slightly more modern technologies maintaining the procedure of mechanical use only (leaving the old mills as tourist attractions). The most modern method of oil extraction is with a centrifuge processing system but, usually used for large quantities. When making extra virgin olive oil, it’s vital to have the olives processed into oil within 24 hours after harvesting. The shorter the time between harvest and oil extraction, the greater the probability that the oil will have a superior taste and flavour.
Another labelling expression that may confuse some are “Cold Press” or “Cold Extraction”, whereby both mean that the oil is not heated over 25 C (77 F) during the oil extraction process to keep more nutrients and undergo less degradation.
In Europe, this is regulated:
Cold Extraction must be labelled when olive oil producers (larger quantities) use a centrifuge extraction method.
Cold Press may be labelled if the olive oil extraction process is physically pressed (basically the old fashion way).
There is rarely a recipe in the Mediterranean cuisine without the use olive oils. Making extra virgin olive oil does not have only the purpose of food spicing of various dishes. Olive Oil was used throughout history for in house lighting, and today often used for the care and protection of the skin. More about our Olive Trees & Oil production.
We hope you enjoyed this short video of “Making Extra Virgin Olive Oil” by Holiday Village “Kameni Dvori” in Dubrovnik. When you visit Dubrovnik, call us for olive oil tasting at Kameni Dvori Tavern Inn – Lovorno 11, 20215 Gruda, Konavle.
Ups! What about the wine? Grapes & wine production are just as important as the olive oil!
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