Olive Oil – The Fruit, The Production and Oleoturismo

olive oil production mallorca walkingMallorcan Oil is an extra virgin olive oil made with the Mallorquina (Empeltre), Arbequina and Picual varieties of olives, using traditional processes conserving the aroma, taste and consistency of the fruit. These three varieties of olive allow producers to create olive oils which are of an extremely high quality and which have very unique flavours and aromas. The Arbequina olive gives the oil a fruity taste, the Picual a more bitter flavour and the Mallorquina a subtle sweetness reminiscent of ripe almonds. These flavours are created from a variety of processes ranging from pressing before full ripeness of the olive to blending different varieties.

The high quality of the Mallorquin olive oil is achieved from a combination of the soil characteristics, rugged landscape, irregular rainfall and the great age of Mallorca’s olive trees. The olive harvest is influenced by climate and Mallorca generally has an earlier harvest than other regions.

Mallorca has a long history of olive growing, as well as production and consumption of olive oil. Mallorcan olive oil has always been well acknowledged and popular among local residents but despite this, the amount of Mallorcan Olive Oil consumed on the island only accounts for 2.7% of total sales. The rest is exported, with Germany being the main consumer.

According to historical data, the Phoenicians and Greeks introduced olive trees to the Iberian Peninsula, and from there they reached Mallorca. It was in the 16th century that important progress was made in olive growing and oil production, and for many years this was the main source of income for numerous estates on the island, many of which had their own olive mills. Mallorcan olive oil continued to be the island’s leading export product until the first half of the 19th century. Today there are close to 402 producers of Mallorcan Olive Oil, covering a total of 1400 hectares of land, and using 7 Olive Oil presses. Recent records show annual production in excess of 100,000 litres of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, increasing year on year.

The Pressing of the Oil

Much of the Olive Oil production in Mallorca still uses traditional systems used over centuries. The olives are placed on a grindstone and crushed by machine-operated conical-shaped rollers. The grinder is a mechanical hammer type machine and the grinding process depends on the amount of olives in each batch. The golden rule is that they should never be ground for more than 6 minutes. The paste produced is placed between woven mats that are laid one on top of the other and pressed. In the olive press, by applying considerable pressure, a liquid is produced composed of water and oil. The liquid is left to settle and separates into two layers, with the oil on top and the water from the olive below.

This process is known as Continuous Flow which involves: Cleaning and Washing, followed by Weighing andolive-press mallorca walking holidays Classification and then the Grinding. The paste then goes through a Mixing (malaxing) process where the paste reaches a maximum temperature of 28ºC. This section of the oil extraction takes between 60 and 90 minutes. Now comes the Extraction of the oil using horizontal centrifugation. Separation is the final stage that is achieved by horizontal and vertical centrifugation, which then results in the finished product: pure Mallorcan Olive Oil with designated origin ‘Oli de Mallorca’ .

Storage & Bottling : The oil now moves into storage. After being classified, it is placed in tanks depending on its quality. The oil mills are located geographically, with building characteristics to ensure the oil can be stored at appropriate temperatures, not rising above 25ºC.

The oil is then bottled in conditions that protect it from the sunlight, preventing any possible alteration due to the oxidation of the oil’s fatty acids.

The next time you try the pure essence of Mallorcan Olive Oil, think of the process required to arrive at the golden liquid you are enjoying.

The popularity of Mallorquin Olive Oil both in Mallorca and importing countries, has resulted in a new form of tourism in Mallorca: Oleoturismo. Promoted as Olive Oil Tourism – The Art of Nature this initiative was created in order to introduce visitors to all aspects of the Olive tree; the oil and the additional products created from Olive wood with a series of highly original activities. You can find more details regarding these activities and the routes on the island here:

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