Nocellara del Belice has modest growth and good adaptation to the environment of the south. It has constant productivity. Auto-incompatible, it is associated to cultivar Giarraffa as impollinator. The fruit is spherical and slightly asymmetrical, it has numerous lenticels that cover the epidermis. It has good resistance to the olive-fly.
Carolea it is a tree with a rising head and high growth. In its natural environment, if irrigated, it guarantees high and constant production. Auto-incompatible, it is associated to Nocellara Messinese as pollinator. The fruit, of large size, have elliptic shape with flat base and roun apex. The maturation is on average gradual.
Frantoio makes the classic small to medium sized olive tree. Goes into production early. It’s a self-fertile tree, but improves the productivity with the presence of suitable pollinators. Fruit ripening is scalar. Oil content is medium.
The quality of olive oil is strongly influenced by the olive ripening degree.
As the precocity of maturation is a variable characteristic, some cultivars reach maturation before others: in olive groves in which more varieties are present, usually the most precocious varieties are harvested first and subsequently those that mature later. In general the harvest is rationally started when the olives become dark, that is when they change color, showing a partially colored surface, and the pulp is still clear.
In our olive groves we start the harvest when 5% only of olives start to become dark, a very early degrees of maturation.
In order to obtain olive oils of high quality, the olives are harvested directly from the tree, by forced picking. During this phase all necessary precautions are taken to avoid the breaking or the squeezing of the fruit or the contamination with the soil. Harvesting can be carried out both by hand and with mechanical means (“shakers”, ”vibrators”) making the olives fall on nets placed under the canopy not touching the ground.
The extracting process includes different operations. To obtain a high quality extra virgin olive oil in every moment of the transformation, it must be checked in its critical points.
Leaf removal and washing
Leaves and twings are normally gathered together with olives especially with mechanical harvesting through shaking. Effective defoliation, with defoliating machine, notably improves the quality, removing the bitter taste (of the leaf) perceivable when tasting. The process of defoliation is also important to remove the rotten leaves and most all of all biggest twigs that can give a bitter-wooden taste to the olive oil.
The washing of the olives, with a special washing machine that respect their integrity, is instead essential to remove the taste of the soil and dirt in the olive oil (if the olives present traces of soil).
The process of preparing olive paste by crushing the whole olives plays a crucial part in determining both the quality of the olive oil produced.
We use two types of mechanical crushers obtain our extra virgin olive oil, disc crusher (1400 rpm) and hummer crusher (2800 rpm), depending of olive’s varieties and degrees of maturation. In both cases, the thickness and texture of the crushed paste must be adjusted to suit the ripeness of the olives as well as the required output. This process of adjustment is important in order to guarantee the taste and aroma of the end product.
Malaxing is a very important step of the extraction process because it is in this phase that oil is extracted from the olive paste. Continuous mixing causes the microscopic drops of oil to group into larger ones. These are separated from the aqueous and solid phases during the subsequent extraction step that takes place inside the decanter centrifuge.
We are able to control (with an automation touch screen – traceability system) three olive paste’s parameters that are essentials for the olive oil quality: time (of malaxing), temperature, atmosphere, which allow the reduction of the oxidation process and loss of phenolic and aromatic substances.
In fact, checking the atmosphere during malaxing implies monitoring the parameters that influence the quality of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil acquires its typical properties during the malaxing phase, because the combined action of time and temperature influences the activity of the enzymes that are responsible for forming the minor components of olive oil and that play a key role in determining its positive attributes. For this reason, it is particularly important to verify that the paste is correctly heated (T < 27°C = cold extraction), that the malaxing phase is carried out for the required amount of time and that the percentage of oxygen is sufficient to promote the enzymatic activity required to obtain the desired quality. An improper malaxing can cause irreversible defects due to the presence of oxidizing enzymes. This occurs, for example, when the paste remains in contact with oxygen for a long period of time, causing the oxidizing enzymes to be activated. Excessive temperatures may prevent the attainment of a high quality of oil. Therefore, it is very important to reduce the percentage of atmospheric oxygen in contact with the paste and to directly monitor time and temperature.
For this we use special malaxers, named Atmosphera® (Alfa Laval), that agree to reach top quality in extra virgin olive oil production.
We use a continuous system by centrifuge to extract the oily must and separate the pomace and the vegetable water. Our “A.R.A. ®” decanter centrifuge works in three phases with a very low quantity of added water. Experimental data confirm that the olive oils obtained with this technology are of a higher quality, richer in phenols and with a more intense aroma.
It’s the final operation of clarification of the oily must (centrifugal separation of the olive oil from the residual water), it’s quickly performed and in a very efficient way with the vertical axle centrifuges, commonly called “separators”. The olive oil leaking from the separator should be turbid or nazy. In fact, if you want to make the olive oil more limpid, this determines the loss of the minor components (phenols, aromatic substances) that are the key of the organoleptic, nutritional quality and of the stability in time and in cooking of the extra virgin olive oil.
The rules we follow during storage are:
For these reasons we use stainless steel tanks provided with a conic bottom and a device to unload muddy and sediments, with an airtight shutter.
Decanting / Filtering
To ensure a good storage of extra virgin olive oil it’s important to immediately separate the olive oil from the muddy sediment that forms by decanting during storage. The transfer into dry and clean containers is made easier by the usage of tanks with a conic bottom provided with a special opening for the removal of deposits. Instead of decanting or in addition to it, we can filtering the product.
Our extra virgin olive oil is stored until it is ready to be shipped. Then the olive oil is canned or bottled on an assembly line. Cans or dark-tinted bottles will keep the quality of the olive oil intact.