How is Olive Oil Made? Step-by-Step Guide

How is Olive Oil Made? Water Color Olive Trees in Background

How is Olive Oil is Made?

Welcome to the captivating world of olive oil production! If you've ever been curious about the intricate process that yields the flavorful and healthy olive oil you adore, you've arrived at the perfect destination. In this comprehensive guide, we will accompany you through every stage of the olive oil making journey, shedding light on the expertise and craftsmanship required to produce exceptional, high-quality olive oil. So, grab a bottle of our exquisite Obìa EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), the only Sardinian olive oil available on the American market,  and prepare to embark on a remarkable voyage, from the abundant harvest to the final elixir sealed within the bottle.

1. The Harvest

1. Harvest with Watercolor image of woman hand-picking olives
A Man Harvesting Olives With a Ladder and Basket
A Woman Harvesting Olives with an Electric Rake

The journey of extra virgin olive oil begins in the picturesque olive groves, where skilled hands carefully harvest the ripe olives at the perfect moment of maturity. This manual harvesting process ensures that only the finest olives, free from any damage or defects, are selected. It is a labor-intensive task that requires expertise and a deep understanding of the olives' optimal ripeness. These are the 5 main methods to harvesting olives, in order from best (to preserve the integrity and quality of the olives) to worst. Obìa uses a combination of hand-picking, tree combing, and electric harvesters.

Harvest Methods

1. Hand-Picking

Hand-picking is the traditional and labor-intensive method of harvesting olives. Skilled workers carefully select and pluck the ripe olives from the trees by hand. This method ensures that only the highest quality olives are harvested, as damaged or unripe fruits can be left behind. Hand-picking allows for precise selection and gentle handling of the olives, preserving their integrity and flavor.

Water color of arm hand-picking olives to make olive oil
2. Tree Comb

The tree comb method involves using a specially designed comb-like tool to gently comb through the olive tree branches, dislodging the olives. The olives fall onto nets or tarps placed beneath the trees, making it easier to collect them afterward. This method is efficient and reduces the physical strain on harvesters compared to hand-picking.

Water color of woman using tree comb to harvest olives
3. Powered Rake

Powered rake harvesters are machines equipped with rotating rods or fingers that gently shake the olive tree branches, causing the olives to fall onto collection nets or conveyors. These machines are powered by electricity and are designed to minimize damage to both the olives and the trees during harvesting.

Water color of person using powered rake to harvest olives
4. Tree Shaker

The tree shaking method involves using specialized machinery that clamps onto the trunk of the olive tree and vigorously shakes it. The shaking motion helps to dislodge the olives, which then fall onto collection nets or tarps. Tree shakers are commonly used in large-scale commercial olive groves. These machines can harm the olive trees.

Water color of tree shaker
5. Tractors

A modern and industrial method, olives are harvested using tractor-mounted equipment. This method involves attaching devices such as combs, shakers, or even mechanical harvesters to the tractor. The tractor moves through the grove, harvesting the olives as it goes. This operation only works on small and young olive bushes, meaning the trees are destroyed and replaced every few years.  

Water color tractors harvesting olives

2. Clean & Crush

2. Clean & Crush with watercolor stone mill

Once the olives are harvested, they are swiftly transported to the mill, cleaned and prepped for the critical step of crushing. Traditionally, stone mills were used to grind the olives into a paste, but modern mechanical crushers have revolutionized the process. These crushers efficiently break down the olives, including the pits, skin, and flesh, releasing the precious oil contained within. The resulting olive paste is a combination of oil, water, and solids.

3. Malaxation

3. Malaxation

After crushing, the olive paste undergoes a process called malaxation. During malaxation, the paste is gently stirred or kneaded to encourage the oil droplets to merge and separate from the water and solids. This step is crucial for the extraction of the oil's flavors and aromas, which contribute to the unique characteristics of each olive oil variety. The duration and temperature of malaxation play a significant role in determining the oil's final quality and flavor profile. 

4. Separation

4. Separation

The next step in olive oil making is the separation of oil from the other components of the olive paste. This is typically achieved through centrifugation, where the olive paste is spun in a centrifuge at high speed. The centrifugal force separates the oil from the water and solids, allowing for easy extraction. The result is a vibrant, golden-green olive oil that embodies the essence of the olives it was derived from.

5. Filtration & Storage

4. Separation

To ensure the utmost purity and clarity, the freshly extracted olive oil undergoes filtration. Filtration removes any remaining impurities or sediment, resulting in a pristine product that showcases the oil's natural color, flavor, and aroma. After filtration, the olive oil is carefully stored in airtight containers, away from light and heat, to preserve its optimal freshness and quality. Proper storage is essential for maintaining the oil's integrity over time.


The art of olive oil making is a harmonious blend of tradition, expertise, and innovation. From the meticulous harvesting of ripe olives to the careful crushing, malaxation, separation, and filtration processes, each step contributes to the creation of exceptional olive oil. The dedication and craftsmanship of olive oil producers ensure that every bottle delivers the highest quality and distinctive flavors.

When choosing olive oil, it's important to look for reputable producers who adhere to strict quality standards. Opt for extra-virgin olive oil, which is the highest grade and signifies superior quality and purity. Additionally, consider factors such as olive variety and region, as they can influence the flavor profile of the oil.

At Obìa, we take pride in crafting premium olive oils that embody the essence of the Mediterranean. Our olives are carefully picked and processed using state-of-the-art techniques to ensure exceptional quality and flavor. 

Remember, the journey of olive oil from harvest to bottle is a testament to the passion and expertise of olive oil producers. Enjoy the flavors, embrace the health benefits, and savor every drop of this liquid gold in your culinary endeavors!

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