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Snow on the top of Mount Wellington, Tasmania.

Snow on the top of Mount Wellington, Tasmania.

The answer to this question is yes, insofar as almost any extra virgin olive oil is these days! Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is oil extracted from olive fruit using only mechanical means, without the use of solvents or excessive temperatures (less than 30degC, or 86degF). Applying heat increases oil extraction, but causes a reduction in quality with increased acidity and a shorter shelf life. Extra virgin olive oil also has to pass a chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory test by a trained tasting panel. Yes, that’s actual people!

There are three main stages to getting olive oil out of the olive fruit:

  1. Crushing: The whole olive fruit (including the stones) is crushed into a paste, breaking the olive cell membranes and releasing the olive oil.
  2. Malaxing: The paste is mixed or stirred to get the small oil droplets to combine into larger drops (see note at end).
  3. Separation of the oil from the waste material: This is now usually by centrifugation, but traditionally was by spreading the olive paste onto discs and applying pressure either by a long lever or screw (kind of like a giant version of those little toys for pressing flowers), or by a hydraulic mechanism.
Flower press like old olive oil press

Available on ebay…

The terms “cold pressed” or “first cold pressed” really refers to when olive oil was produced using pressure to separate the oil. Nowadays, the term cold extraction might be more technically correct, but cold pressed is so widely used in the everyday language of olive oil, that it’s difficult to change.

Traditional olive oil press using mats and lever

“Oil press, no longer used! The mats are sandwiched with olives and pressed – out comes the oil.” Photo by Paul Barker Hemings, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

So, once we’ve harvested our olives we’ll take them to our on-site press. The crushing, malaxing, and centrifugation is all carried out inside one machine as a continuous process, without heating. We can’t wait to see our “cold press” extra virgin olive oil flowing out! If you’d like to be one of the first to get your hands on some super fresh Tasmanian Extra Virgin Olive Oil then leave your details on our contact form (click here) and we’ll be in touch as soon as it’s ready to go. FFx

Linguistic note: I decided to look up “malaxing” while writing this post, as I was curious to see if there was a specific definition of the word rather than a description of the process as it applies to olive oil production. It’s not in my previously trusty Collins Concise English Dictionary (1982 edition). An online search reveals “malaxate: soften (plaster or other material) by kneading or rubbing.”  Origin: late Middle English: from Latin malaxare, from Greek malassein ‘make soft’. (www.oxforddictionaries.com)