Between October and February of each year, Malta is known as the time of olive harvest. Two gardens, one in Żabbar and the other in Mosta are full of olives ready to be harvested.
Project Green joined children and teens from two schools, the Liceo tal-Ħamrun and the Depiro Sports Club where dozens of children and teens participated in an environmental educational activity. The outing was organised at the Victor Calvagna Garden and San Klement Garden, were they spent hours of cutting olives, the first step of the process they will follow until they are pressed and ready for food use.
What are the actual steps of olive oil production?
The process of harvesting the olive and producing olive oil involves several steps, from the cultivation of the olive trees to the final product.
- Cultivation of Olive Trees: Olive trees are typically grown in regions with a Mediterranean climate such as Malta, as they require a lot of sunlight and soil. The trees take several years to mature before they can produce a significant harvest.
- Harvesting: The harvesting of olives usually takes place at the end of autumn or at the beginning of winter when the olives are at their best ripeness.
- Transport: The harvested olives are transported to the olive mill as quickly as possible to ensure maximum freshness.
- Cleaning and Sorting: In the olive mill, the olives are cleaned and sorted to remove leaves, branches, and any debris.
- Crushing and Grinding: The cleaned olives, including pit and skin, are crushed and ground into a paste. Traditionally, large stone mills were used, but modern facilities use stainless steel or granite crushers. The olive paste is mixed or stirred to allow the oil droplets to coalesce. This process helps to separate the oil from the solid parts.
- Extraction: The olive paste is then processed in a press to separate the oil from the other components. This gives a mixture of olive oil and water.
- Separation: The oil-water mixture is allowed to settle, and the oil rises to the top. It is separated from water and solids by decantation or centrifugation.
- Storage: The extracted olive oil is stored in tanks or barrels in a controlled environment to prevent oxidation.
- Packaging: After a period of settling and filtration, the olive oil is packaged in bottles or containers for distribution.
- Quality Control: The olive oil is subjected to quality testing to ensure that it meets specific standards for taste, aroma and acidity.
- Distribution: The final product, extra virgin, virgin, or regular olive oil, is distributed to consumers, retailers, and markets.
“Our mission at Project Green is not only to create open spaces but to foster a love for nature and sustainable practices. Today’s olive-picking activity is a perfect example of this. These children and teens are also learning valuable lessons about agriculture,” said Steve Ellul, CEO of Project Green whilst visiting the two activities.
The day after the activity, the children of the Liceo of Hamrun followed the pressing process, and later joined the school kitchen to season bread with tomatoes and the same oil that came from olives that they cut and distributed this goodness, with the rest of their friends and teachers at school.
Are you going to pick and harvest olives this year?