Olive oil has been around for centuries and a wide variety of methods for making it have been devised. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans developed techniques ranging from functional to highly sophisticated for their time and, today, we are blessed with a greater understanding of the care that it needed to make this liquid gold as a result of their early efforts. The process advanced in its technology throughout the years with each advancement producing more knowledge and a better oil!
Early oil producers pressed the olives by crushing them between huge cone-shaped stones as they turned slowly on a base of granite. Today, most factories employ hydraulic presses, exerting hundreds of tons of pressure, to separate the oil from the olive paste.
To explore the lifecycle of Little Angel Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil® (EVOO), we must begin at the olive groves in Gargalianoi, in the western part of the Messinia region of Greece on the Ionian Sea, where the olives grow and mature. This beautiful community is surrounded by many quaint villages and towns and it is here that some of the most fertile and highest quality olive groves in the world can be found. You can even see what’s happening right now in Gargalianoi by clicking here…
The primary ingredient in Little Angel EVOO, and in fact, the only ingredient of olive oil, is the oil extracted from ripe olives. In the late spring, small flowers appear on the olive trees. Wind pollination results in the blossoming of the olives, which reach their peak oil content approximately six months later. Our olives are harvested in mid- to late-November just as they are progressing in color from green to reddish violet.
Since ancient times, workers have knocked the olive fruit from the trees with long-handled poles. The process has not changed significantly over the centuries. Modern poles resemble rakes. Originally, nets were spread under the tree to catch the falling olives. Our producers are now using plastic covers to cushion the fall and to allow for cleaner, gentler, and faster gathering of the fruit for Little Angel EVOO.
One 500ml bottle of Little Angel Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil requires approximately 1,000 olives. Warm water is used to flush away the bitterness of the olives, caused by the presence of oleuropein. To be considered extra virgin olive oil, it must have a total acidity of between 0.3% and 0.8%. Little Angel EVOO contains not more than 1% oleic acid and our 2014 harvest has a total acidity of 0.27%. A very good oil, indeed and truly an extra virgin olive oil!
After our olives have been harvested from the trees, they are picked over by hand to weed out unsound olives. Then they are taken to the press and stored for a short period of time, from a few hours to several days. The period is short enough to prevent fermentation but long enough to allow the olives to get warm so that they release their oil easily.
When ready, the olives are rinsed in cold water and then passed along a conveyer belt between rollers or continuous hammers. This machinery, often called the olive crusher, breaks down the cells and de-stones the olives. Depending on the resiliency of the olives’ skin and the stage of maturation, it may be deemed necessary to pass the fruit through the mill a second time.
In ancient times, the olives were mashed into a paste with a simple mortar and pestle. This principle was expanded upon until the stone mortars were large enough to require slaves or pack animals to operate them. In the modern process, the milled olives travel from the mill into vats in which slowly turning blades mash the olives into a homogenized paste. This process is called malaxation and it is one of the most critical processes to insure the Little Angel Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest possible quality. Temperature control is the key here and, as such, the paste is carefully controlled to maintain a temperature of 27 degrees centigrade during the entire process. This is the why our oil is referred to as cold-pressed. Higher temperatures yield more oil but they also increase the oxidation in the oil and reduce the shelf life. It is also here where our olive oil leaves the world of oxygen and begins its life in a world of nitrogen which further serves to reduce oxidation and preserves the quality and integrity of our olive oil all the way to your table!
Originally, the oil and water mixture obtained from the pressing process was stored in vats until the oil rose to the top and was skimmed off. Some fermentation was inevitable, affecting the taste and smell of the olive oil. Today, the separation is accomplished swiftly by pumping the mixture into a centrifuge. The centrifuge is comprised of a rotating drum and an auger that are spun on the same axis at great speed. Because the oil and the vegetable water are of differing densities, the centrifuge forces them apart and into separate receptacles.
The resulting product is the most beautiful emerald green you have ever seen! At this point, Little Angel EVOO is stored in nitrogen filled stainless steel tanks (INOX tanks) for transport to our bottling facility in Athens, Greece. From the moment Little Angel is pressed, it is carefully protected from temperature, oxygen, and impurities because it is all about quality to us – and to you, we believe.
Bottling and labeling Little Angel takes place after the oil is received at the bottling facility and mesh filtered to remove any remaining impurities and sediment which further serve to reduce shelf life. This filtration also helps to create the brilliant clarity of Little Angel EVOO.
Our oil is bottled in three sizes: 100ml, 250ml, and 500ml for convenience and economy. In all cases, Little Angel is placed in a dark colored bottle to protect is richness from the effects of light. Our 500ml bottle uses a very high quality silicone pourer embedded in the bottle top and all of our bottles are sealed with a shrink wrap neck capsule to create a tamper-proof seal and insure the integrity and quality of Little Angel EVOO all the way to you!
Once safely in the bottle, Little Angel EVOO is packaged in our custom cartons, palletized, and shipped in a temperature-controlled container from the port in Pireas, Greece to Port Everglades, FL. Then, on to our warehouse facilities in Miami and off to your kitchen!
Nothing to it, really. Shop Little Angel Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil now!