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Original post from the OHH blog (see it here).

…continued from part 1.

Down the shoot went the olives. The mash immediately begins to smell like olive oil. (But it doesn’t look like it at all!) This step takes no time at all, and before you know it, 1/3 of the bucket becomes about a 1/2 gallon of mash.

The next step was a complete surprise to me. I don’t know the exact term for it but it seems you have to reverse emulsion (?) by stirring the mash for at least a half hour to 45 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll see pools of oil along the sides which means it’s ready for pressing. Don’t skip this step… the press won’t work otherwise.

Wrap up the mash and top it with the block of wood and get ‘er under the press. (see update below)

The hubby cut a hole in the side of the bin to let the oil drain out. It just drops into a jar below. The liquid is a mixture of oil, water and bits of pulp. It is not the most pleasant sight. After several trial runs (and a few blow outs as mentioned above) we decided that small batches like this one is the only way to go. And PRESS VERY SLOWLY. Give the bag a nice tight squeeze to start, then wait a minute or two in between pumps. The entire bucket took the two of us (being the novices that we are) around four hours to press. The hubby’s wheels are already turning on how to speed things up.

What you end up with is a liquid that will quickly separate; leaving the oil on top! We let it sit for another hour to make sure it separated completely.

I used a turkey baster to drain off the oil and get it ready to be filtered. The consensus from other homesteaders on the web says to use coffee filters, but we don’t have any right now. So I filtered it through a thick fold of cheesecloth… twice. That was about another 1/2 hour all together. Maybe.

Oh baby! Is this a proud moment or what? One bucket gave us just over two (16 oz) bottles*** of oil. Hey, that’s what I just bought at the grocery store! So let’s break it down and see if it will be worth it after time:

  1. Set up cost to make olive oil at home – Just under $540.00.
  2. Continued cost after set up – Minimal. Maybe enough to replace the cheesecloth from time to time.
  3. The time it takes to make 32 oz – 10 hours with setup, up to 7 hours without.

As stated above, the price for olive oil at the grocery store is anywhere between $8.00-14.00 (plus gas to get there and the added temptation to buy more stuff). We figure it’ll pay for itself after doing it 50 times (using averages). And then it’s savings time! Is the time it takes to make homemade olive oil worth it? Yeah, you know it is. We gave up the better part of the weekend which doesn’t phase us homesteaders one bit. Not to mention the process is healthier and cleaner. Here’s why:

  1. It’s organic.
  2. Because it is made with very ripe olives, is less filtered and is pressed less than commercial oil, it has a distinct “buttery” flavor. Commercial oil is overly processed so it ends up clear (mostly necessary for a longer shelf life). Olive oil connoisseurs from around the world would agree that unfiltered and less processed oil just tastes better. (see this article – Cloudy Olive Oil)
  3. Commercial processing sometimes can’t remove every foreign object like twigs and leaves that make it through. Ew. (What else could be in there?)

*Tip: Green olives will make a slightly more bitter oil. Dark purple or black olives will go rancid faster. For the best results, pick them at their peak somewhere in between.

**Info: We plan to try another method using dehydrated olives and a little expeller I found online. Should be interesting!

***Info: These bottles cost $3.00 each at World Market. I probably should have used a mason jar… I know, I know.

Update: A wonderful and experienced olive oil maker gave us the most brilliant tip – stack thin layers of mash instead of adding it all to one bag. DUH!!! The hubby and I just about flipped out at this, are scrambling to try it out, and will post updated pics asap. Thanks a bunch to all the awesome bloggers and fellow homesteaders for your lovely emails! You make our world go round!

Update: Another fab and equally experienced olive oil maker (who is now making a gallon of oil a week) emailed us these mind-blowing tips – Mix (called malaxation) for longer periods of time on very slow speeds; Press when it’s warmer… if pressing outside, do it during the warmest part of the day; Pay attention to the olive types because different olives yield different amounts of oil. Great tips, thanks a billion!

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Fixes: Solve Waterlogging and Flooding Problems

If you’ve suffered from the problem of flooded soil before then you know the pain of a lost harvest that was so close to ripening. Luckily, there are ways that you can prevent it from happening again.

Even if you don’t have a big enough garden to create a drain or run-off areas, you can still implement small solutions that will work as long as you make sure to act at the right time. First and foremost, you should be mindful of the weather forecast and whether it calls for rain.

A few days ahead of the rain spell, you should begin by picking up fallen leaves or pebbles that may block the drains, leading the soil to absorb all the moisture. Remember to have a look at the drain as well and pick up any leaves that surround it because these can get carried into the drain and allow a blockage. If you don’t have the time to pick leaves yourself, you can purchase a garden vacuum to do it for you.

You can optimize your soil to have the best drainage possible by adding organic matter like peat mulch or compost. While this will increase your soil’s absorbency, you can add heavy topsoil like bark or fresh mulch to protect your crops’ roots. If there are parts of your garden where the soil tends to get flooded often, add adequate topsoil that’s mixed with some sand.

Leaf mold is made from leaves that have decayed and serves as an excellent conditioner for your soil. Whether you’re getting rain or not, it’s always a good idea to add some to your soil every year; it can increase the soil’s ability to retain more water, which is excellent in the case when you’re expecting heavy rainfall.

Since leaf mold generally doesn’t need to be used more than once a year, you’ll have plenty of it as long as you’re adding to the pile. It takes around two years to finely decay and turn into compost that’s much more refined.
Another factor you need to make sure of is that your soil isn’t compacted i.e. has few air pockets and isn’t well-aerated. This is actually a fairly common problem that leads to waterlogged soil and it highlights the importance of tilling your soil often. If the soil is compacted, it keeps water from passing through the top layer of the soil, therefore allowing water to collect and subsequently drowning the crops.

By aerating your soil regularly, you can create more air pockets in it which lets roots have better access to oxygen and other nutrients. In this case, aerating it gives water a way to pass through the top layer and increases the soil’s absorbency. You can use a number of tools, such as a garden fork, to aerate your soil.

These are some of the preventative measures you can take a few days before a heavy rain spell to help reduce the chances of waterlogging and flooding in your garden. Make sure that you don’t waste any time after learning that a heavy downpour is on its way because carrying out the above-mentioned measures takes time. Happy Farming!


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