In the months that the picking lasts olive oil mills work non-stop to accommodate farmers that bring in their olives. Farmers and the olive mill owners usually know each other for many years. They could be from the same town, friends or neighbors. There is always something personal in all the production stages of olive oil. The pride of the farmer for the sturdy laden trees of the olive grove, the mutual understanding that picking has to get on as fast as possible, the common pleasure demonstrated both by the farmer and the olive mill owner over a fresh batch of well picked healthy olives.
Olives are pressed within hours of being picked which results in the lowest acidic values possible, which usually range between 0.1-0.5%.
The olives arrive at the mill and pass through a machine that separates the leaves from the olives. The olives are then cleaned using running water from the town’s drinking water supply. The clean olives are then placed in a large metal/concrete container that has at its center two circular (weel-like) stones that are about 1.5-2.0 meters in diameter and rotate around until they completely crush the olives.
The crushed olives are then placed inside special mats that are about 1.0 square meter in surface area. These mats are placed in a press one on top of the other until they are stacked about 2.0 meters high. The press is then used to squeeze the olive paste that is inside the mats and olive oil along with water flows from the press to a pan-shaped container located below the press.
The mixture of olive oil and water is then passed through filters that are designed to remove any solid particles and then directed to the separator that is used to separate the water from the olive oil, which runs rich and delectable down right on to the waiting roasting slices of bread. This is the traditional way of tasting the first young olive oil. Heated arguments are exchanged over its fruitiness, its mellowness, and its low acidity.
In Achaia, about 95% of all olive oil comes out as extra virgin of only a few "lines" as they are called (acidity less than 1.0%). The probabilities of ending up with inferior oil are indeed small. The issue at hand is not whether it is a good oil, but how good of an oil!
When at long last the oil is there, tanks filled to capacity, the Agricultural Cooperatives’ Union of Aeghion steps in to pick and choose the best of the best. That is where our Eliki Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from.