Original post from the OHH blog (see it here).
Our area is loaded with olive trees. We have a tree on our property too. Just recently, I bought a 33.8 oz bottle of extra virgin olive oil (off-brand) at the grocery store. It cost over $8.00. The more expensive brands were closer to $14.00. Do you see where I’m headed here folks? It’s time to try to make our own!
We set up a grinding and pressing station in the empty bedroom of the house. Here’s how:
The sink and counter came from Home Depot. (Makes me sad that we didn’t have either on hand, especially since the hubby’s profession has him tearing these things out all the time. Oh well.) Together they cost a bit over $100.00 and the time spent setting it up took about an hour, plus, the hubby always spends at least an hour in Home Depot regardless of what he went there for! (I’ll have totals for ya at the end.)
The grinder we chose is their top-of-the-line, under-the-sink garbage disposal that can rip anything to shreds. It works wonders and though it was a whopping $300.00, it was a really good investment that will last us a very long time. But it doesn’t come with a cord… if you don’t have an extra one on hand, you’ll have to buy it and wire it in. Another $8.00 and 10 minutes gone.
The press was about $120.00 from Harbor Freight and very easy to put together. (But the hubby is kicking himself because he thinks he could have made a better one for less. Oh well again.) It took about a half hour or so. With just these two things… oil is born.
It took us about an hour and a half to pick a full bucket. In “experienced olive picker” laborer time that would probably be more like 30 minutes. If you have an entire grove to pick you’ll most likely want to hire help to do it, and that cost is unknown. (I’m sure that if you have to factor labor in, the deficit bulges out by a lot!) When you harvest the olives, immediately wash them and plan to grind them the same day, or up to a few days later. Don’t wait much longer than that since they can begin to rot, and/or the flavor of the oil you produce will be compromised. What a waste that would be!
Our olive tree was busting out with olives but we waited too long. This is the last good one. Olives can be darker green to black* and anything in between… but when they get old and shrivel this much, you’ll have oil that quite possibly could be rancid. So move quickly. We ended up taking the ladder to a public area/street corner where there are five olive trees just busting at the seams with fat, ripe olives. They were all over the roadside and nobody cared at all. So we picked our hearts out and trucked home to cold press** them. But I hesitate to add the time it took us to get there and back simply because this is a one-time deal. We’ll be using our own olives from here on out.
We laid down a big block of wood to make sure the plastic bin would have a flat surface to sit on.
We used a painters’ straining bag to add the mash to and then wrapped it with cheese cloth. Minimal cost, stuff we already had (including the buckets) and so I won’t add them in this time.
A block of wood was used to press the mash, so to keep it sanitary, it had to be wrapped in something. I thought that plastic wrap would be a good idea however, it tends to make things slide around (because of the oil) and the bag of mash can end up to one side causing breakage. (Two mishaps and we learned to re-align it when that happens.) If we figure out a better way, I’ll post it here.
(Update: Just received a tip that blew my mind! Glue a plastic cutting board to the wooden block for pressing. It’ll be easy to clean and it won’t slide around. Done!!)