Yesterday we broke up our long drive from Córdoba to Madrid by stopping at an olive oil factory and I loved it! Maybe it’s from growing up with my grandparents blueberry farm, but I just love visiting farms or other places that grow plants. I find it fascinating to see how different plants grow, and see where exactly food comes from. It doesn’t hurt either when there is a little snack at the end.
Before I dive into this post I should probably admit something, I really don’t like olives. My mum loves them and I have tried them before, but I could live without them. Having said that I didn’t have high hopes for this tour as far as having a delicious tasting. We started by going out into the olive trees to see a small fraction of the acres of trees the farm has.
The olive aging process was described from bitter green all the way to ripe black. What I didn’t know was that the best extra virgin olive oil comes from the not fully ripe green olives. When the olives are ready to be picked the farmers use a machine that looks like a bobcat with long arms off of it to clamp down and shake the tree from the trunk. What would take up to 2 hours by hand, takes only 1-2 minutes with modern inventions. The olives drop onto a net so they can be gathered up and off to be crushed.
The rest of the process takes anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes. There are several machines that take the olives from fruit to oil. First olives are mashed into a pulp, then the pulp is squished, next it’s time for a spin to separate oil from pulp, and finally oil is poured into bottles. While all this information is fascinating it did have my stomach rumbling ready to try some with soft, warm bread.
Next was the best part, tasting! Now I was ready to nibble on some bread and olive oil, but bread was not in my future. First we needed to learn how to determine if the olive oil was any good. We started with the smell. According to our guide a good extra virgin olive oil should smell “green” like fresh cut grass or a green tomato. Then the taste. Sweet at the tip of the tongue, bitter along the sides and peppery down the back of your throat. Now that we knew what to look for it was time to taste…with no bread. I was a bit apprehensive to drink the olive oil but surprisingly it wasn’t bad. And more impressively I tasted all the different parts I was suppose to! But our second taste had me wondering if our guide was crazy. Orange infused olive oil over chocolate ice cream. I mean I am always on board for some ice cream, but olive oil on it, umm yeah not sure about that. It blew my mind! Legit one of the best tastes ever.
As with any good tour it ended in the gift shop. It didn’t take long for our American tourist group aka locust, to pretty much wipe them out of olive oil stock. Now how will I decide which items of clothing to leave behind to make room in my suitcase?