According to the olive grade or type, olive oil has different sensory properties like flavor, taste, color, and nutrient composition parameters. However, the olive oil production processes and storage for best quality are essentially the same. Thus, its quality can be seen from different perspectives: normative, commercial, food, therapeutic and sensory. Nice olive oil is produced with good methods of growing, collecting, storing, and processing olives. In this condition, conservativeness is considered to be a quality characteristic of olive oil.
Production processes of olive oil
The only way to know olive oil production processes and storage for best quality involves understanding the importance of the entire process. Manufacturing olive oil comprises three main stages as follows;
Cleaning: In this step, the fresh olives are harvested and the non-essential parts are removed. After being picked, olives are washed with running water to remove all the dirt and pesticides.
Unwanted particles like stones and sand are equally eliminated at this stage. Cleaning is very important as it preserves centrifugal decanter or oil separator from unwanted particles that may reduce the life span from 25 to only 5 years. It is amazing, and sometimes entertaining, to see what can be found in the containers with the olives. Light pollutants are removed by a heavy airflow and heavy objects sink into the water bath.
Preparation: The crushed, washed olives are processed into a fine paste in a grinder. These grinders are designed to preserve the natural aroma and flavor of the oil. After crashing into the stone grinder, the oil is allowed to stay in the area for 30 minutes. During this time, the natural enzymes in the crushed mixture will break down breaking components in aldehydes and ketones to give a particular aroma and taste to olive oil.
Separation: In this step, the oil is separated from the other materials using centrifugation. The oil-insoluble component will be separated in this stage either via centrifugation or pressing. To clarify olive oil, you can use a filtration step. This will remove any remaining solids and clarify the oil.
Most olive oil manufacturing plants nowadays have replaced the old pressing system with centrifugation. Some centrifuges are called the triple-phase because they separate oil, water, and steel separately. The two-phase centrifuges separate the oil from a wet mixture. Generally, the oil coming out of the first centrifuge is further processed by a second centrifuge that rotates faster to eliminate any remaining water and solids. The oil is left in tanks or barrels where a final separation if needed, happens through gravity. This is called topping off the oil.
As soon as the olive oil is obtained from the centrifugation step. Crude oil is subjected to filtration, which finally gives clear greenish color to olive oil. Olive oil is stored at room temperature until further use for cooking.
Olive oil storage for best quality
Storing olive oil is important and that’s why we’re talking of olive oil production processes and storage for best quality. When olive oil is exposed to oxygen, light, and heat, it may be tampered with. Proper storage can prevent it. It is generally recommended that oil be stored between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit to get the best results. Store your oil in a cool place, such as the refrigerator. If your kitchen is warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate the oil to maintain its quality.
Refrigeration is a good way to store all types of olive oil, except for the highest-quality extra-virgin oils. However, a small amount could be kept in a sealed container at room temperature in the kitchen for immediate use. This way, your olive oil will be ready to use as soon as it is opened. Glass containers are a good choice for keeping air and light out, as they are resistant to moisture and oil. Plastic recipients should be avoided and the oil must be stored in a cool, dark place.
For long-term use, a refrigerator is the ideal storage place for olive oil. It should be noted that refrigerated olive oil will solidify and turn cloudy at cold temperatures. This does not affect the health benefits or nutritional value of the food. If you want to restore the liquid texture and color of olive oil, you can put let it stand out for a while.
It isn’t recommended to liquefy all olive oil each time a small quantity has to be used. Instead, keep the olive oil in a wide-mouth glass jar to take it in small amounts with a spoon when the need arises. Clear jars will work fine for this purpose, as it is typically dark in the refrigerator. Oil does not get better with age it may even deteriorate.
As olive oil ages, it gradually degrades and the acidity level rises, reducing the oil’s flavor. It is best to use olive oil within one year of purchase to get the best quality and flavor.