Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

In the long process of making high quality extra virgin olive oil, in which taking good care of the plant and conserving the finished product, the oil presser holds a central role, often undervalued.

Multiple skills are necessary to do this job, which more than anything, is concentrated in a few months of the year for many hours a day.

Besides the ability to run and keep running an olive oil plant, the presser who wants to obtain a quality product must know the basic techniques of testing in order to recognize the characteristics of the finished product and to quickly fix eventual defects resulting from processing errors.

This is not an easy task considering that newly pressed oil has a strong taste and it is difficult to recognize defects; it still hasn’t been stabilized and its final characteristics haven’t emerged; it is still an embryo from a tasting point of view. A good oil presser can evaluate the condition of olives that arrive at the press, their grade of maturity, and their variety.

We should remember that on the tasting card of the COI (International Oil Council), through which olive oil is classified as  extra virgin, virgin or lampante, there are 21 descriptors which classify defects, and they all must be recognized: overheating, sediment, mold, humidity, earth, acidity, rancid, metallic, hay, worms, winey, brine, vegetable water, cucumber, esparto, etc.

The expert olive oil presser must have some idea of mechanics in order to intervene in case of a breakdown or for ordinary maintenance. Modern oil plants, with advanced technology, let us vary some parameters of the olive press and the decanter, division of oil from the olive and the temperature of the entire process, all fundamental variables that influence the final result.

In a small area like Italy and especially Tuscany, the notion of excellent olive oil production is fundamental. The international market expects it. Italy is seen as an example to follow for quality, and we have to continue in that direction.

Like Professor Cini of the Department of Management of Agrarian, Food and Forest Systems of the University of Florence, says “who, like us, can’t pretend to compete with super intensive olive producers (Spanish, Turkish, South American, North American…), must create and defend its own niche of specific sustainability both qualitatively and quantitatively”.

It is very important to consider the concept of the process: “From the plant, to cultivation operations, to collection, to extraction, to packaging…to recuperating energy. All of these points are intimately connected, and the oil processor must know them. In fact, his world is regulated by that which we see at the beginning to that which happens at the end of the olive pressing process”.

Extra virgin olive oil isn’t only an expression of our territory, but also the expression of the passion of the man who studies and acquires competence, from the correct mixing and collaboration between nature, man and machine.

Matteo e Marta Mugelli