The Cooperative Mill
Ancient Corinth has a cooperative mill, it was established in 1981. The benefits of having a mill just few miles away of the farms are enormous. It allows us to take the olives for pressing everyday and crucially we don't have to wait for more than an hour. This is a massive difference to the time before when sometimes the olives would stay in the mill for a week before they were processed.
After the olives have been cleaned and crushed they transferred to the malaxer. The malaxation allows the olive droplets to aggregate so they can easily extracted. The paste is mixed with hot water around 27° and been stirred for 35 minutes. This is one of the most important stage not only because it can affect the yield of the olives but also because much of the flavours and the antioxidants can be destroyed either by prolonged malaxation or because the temperature of the paste exceeded the optimal level.
Our mill uses a centrifuge based system of extraction. The olive pasted is transferred here and the centrifuge is separating the heavier flesh and pits and most of the water from the olive oil. There is not much to say about this one except that it is awfully loud...
After having spent the whole day in the farm picking and watched your the olives during the crucial malaxation phase there is nothing else to do other that waiting and relax a bit.
I did mention hot water before, here is where is boiling,we are using the pit and skin of the olives which were extracted by the centrifuge to burn.
After the oil has been extracted by the centrifuge it goes to a smaller centrifuge that is separating the olive oil from the remaining water and small bits that might have found their way to the olive oil. And that's where you see for the first time the actual olive oil coming out.
Watching the oil running
This is the best bit of all, just watching the olive oil running with millions of thoughts running in your head, is the colour correct? does it taste right? how much will it come out? In the day that these pictures where taken we harvested 1107 kilograms of olives which yield 136 kilos of olive oil, so every 7,5 kilos of olives gave us 1 kilo of olive oil.
This is the outside of the cooperative. On the right you can see the leafs of the olives as they were separated during the cleaning process. On the left is the pit and skin left. This contains some olive oil and it will be bought by other mills which will extract the oil by a chemical process which will output pomace olive oil that cannot be called virgin.