Hi everyone! What’s an olive oil mill? what’s it for? We explain it in detail in this post.
Meaning of the word “almazara”
The word “almazara” (in spanish), which comes from the Arabic word ‘al-ma’sara‘, means ‘the press’. And being true to its etymological origin, an oil mill is still the place where olives are squeezed and olive oil is made.
Besides, when we refer to the “almazara”, we also call it ‘the oil mill’. In fact, the mill has been and is the main device in the production of oil.
Likewise, we love to talk about olive oil from the mill because it evokes a more artisan product, made with a mill of yesteryear and a more limited production.
Of course, oil mills have evolved over time with customs, production growth and technological advances. But its name (almazara, in spanish) and the meaning of it still persist today.
There is evidence that olive oil was produced and traded in the Syrian area of the current city of Aleppo in the third millennium BC. Likewise, the mills or places where this oil was produced were very rudimentary.
Then, its main mechanism to be able to squeeze the olives was a kind of stone mortar in which olives were processed in small quantities each time.
Olive oil mill evolution
Those old oil mills were evolving and the stone mortar was replaced by a stone mill that, thanks to conical granite grinding wheels, crushed the olives that were deposited at their base.
Old oil mill composed of a conical granite grinding wheel that presses the olive on its base.
Subsequently, the mill was provided with animal traction. Due to this and other advances, the production that the mill was able to operate grew over time.
Today the mill that grinds or crushes the olive has electrical power and its appearance and technology is quite different.
The oil mill today
Currently, the oil mill has the latest technology in machinery and there are several processes that are carried out in it. We could differentiate these processes by places within the same oil mill, dividing it into the following areas:
Reception and selection
Reception patio, open area where the olives are received and stored in a hopper awaiting grinding or crushing.
Once the olives have been harvested in the field, they are transported to the oil mill and dumped into the receiving hoppers.
Later, when the process begins, the olives go to the cleaning line where the mud and leaves are removed, washed and finally weighed. In this first phase, the olives are also selected to make the best EVOO.
The olives go from the hopper to the cleaning line where the mud and leaves will be removed.
Processing and filtering
Once the weighing is finished, the olives go inside the facilities, to the production hall. Specifically to the grinding line to be crushed in the electric hammer mill. And once ground, the resulting dough is beaten in the thermofilter and the oil is separated from the dough thanks to the horizontal centrifuge or decanter.
Afterwards, the residual water is separated from the oil thanks to the vertical centrifuge, to finally finish cleaning it in stainless steel decanters and filtering it.
Conservation and packaging
Once the filtered oil is obtained, it goes to the cellar, an interior area also in the warehouse in which certain environmental and temperature conditions are preserved.
Also in this area of the mill are stainless steel tanks, a recommended material for better preservation of the juice. Furthermore, it is advisable for these deposits to end in a conical shape to facilitate cleaning and bleeding. And so that the remaining impurities of the oil easily accumulate in its bottom.
It is also recommended that these tanks are inerted with nitrogen. Thus, this is intended to neutralize the possible oxidative action of the remaining air in the tank that does not cover the olive oil.
Stainless steel tanks inerted with nitrogen to preserve olive oil with all its properties.
Finally, some oil mills have a packaging area that is located between the cellar and the merchandise dispatch area. And the olive oil is packaged at the same time that customers confirm their orders. For this reason, the juice does not lose its original properties in prolonged storage.
Oil mills in Córdoba
Firstable, when talking about Córdoba it always reminds us of the magnificent olive oil that is produced there. And how could it be otherwise, there are many oil mills that are distributed throughout the province.
Likewise, in the province there are four of the thirty Protected Denominations of Origin (PDO) of Spanish olive oil, the DO of Priego de Córdoba, Baena, Lucena, and Montoro-Adamuz.
But going back to the oil mills, at La Tinaja del Gourmet we have focused on those found in an area highly appreciated for the quality of its olive oils: the area of the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park and its surroundings.
In this area we find the most valued olive oils not only in Spain, but also in the rest of the world. This is certified by the multitude of awards obtained by olive oils from Priego de Córdoba and Baena.
In addition, one of the chosen ones is an ecological oil mill that only produces organic oil. Consequently, we can get an idea of the evolution of the sector towards a more sustainable production in relation to the environment.
Finally, at La Tinaja del Gourmet we have selected some of these Premium olive oils that we offer you. You can also visit the oil mills where olive oils are produced, which in most cases organize visits to their facilities and olive oil tastings for visitors.
I hope I have clarified what an oil mill is and what it is for with this mini article. Until the next post!