It’s fairly well-known that Olive Oil is incredibly healthy and equally versatile, good for a huge range of things that can improve your health in one way or another. It’s not too hard to find in your average shop, but as with must things, it always feels better to make your own: there’s a few tips on how, and why, you should.
You don’t need any complex tools or special machinery to grow your own olives, so as long as you’ve learned the proper techniques for caring for olive trees – with the right care and protection, you can even leave it alone to grow by itself most of the time. There are two types of olives you can use to get oil, as long as they’re freshly harvested – ripe and unripe. Ripe olive oil will have more health effects, but both can be used for the exact same things with no downsides.
Washing the olives is always the first step, especially if you’ve only just picked them – dirt, dust and debris need to be cleared away, not only to prevent infections, but also to make sure that the olives themselves are easy to extract oil from. How you do this is entirely up to you, but the most efficient way is using a colander to rinse out and reveal anything that isn’t an olive. There’s no need to actually dry off the olives, since the water won’t mix with the oil and “spoil the batch”, but it’ll stop them being slippery in your hands.
Put a portion of the olives into a bowl, preferably in one with shadow sides, and start mashing them into paste with a tenderizer, mallet or other thick object. If it seems like not much oil has come out, wait a moment then try again, letting the oil collect in the bottom of the bowl. Once one batch is done, pour the paste into a glass or large container, then begin work on another.
Although there are plenty of different types of olive tree, with many companies – like Olive Grove – selling a huge range of variants and cultivars, this part of the process should be more or less the same each time, although whether or not they’re ripe may be less obvious with certain types of olive.
Once the paste is properly contained, mix it with water – roughly 2-3 tablespoons of water for every 250ml of paste – and stir it until the mix is more or less uniform, using an immersion blender to grind it down even further.
After this, use a mixing spoon so stir and separate the oil, making the container of “olive mush” into a container of “olive oil and water”, then cover it and leave it for a while. Once they’re fully separated, filter out the oil and water into separate containers, then store the oil somewhere shielded from bright sunlight. A tightly-sealed cork or cap helps too, but even so, you should aim to make use of the oil within two to four months of it being processed.
And there you have your own olive oil! It might take some preparation, but if you’ve got a bunch of olives and no other use for them, it can be a good way to spend an hour on an otherwise boring weekend. Plus, it’s healthy, easy to use and very, very handy to have lying around, just in case.