Making the New Oil

The day I’ve been waiting for arrives. It’s time to go to the frontoio, the olive press, to witness the oil extracted from the olives.  Later will come the first taste, the gift I’ve anticipated since I arrived in Italy. I’ve dreamt of this for the past three years of lockdown.

Though I have witnessed this process before, I’m always excited. Each frontoio has a slightly different process.

Today we go to the frontoio near Pelago, Marchesi Frescobaldi owned by the Frescobaldi family.

We must book an appointment in advance. It’s a bit like getting an MRI in Canada; your appointment can be at 2:00 AM and even then, you might consider yourself lucky to be seen at all. We’re thankful to be scheduled for the late morning.

Because we are early, we are invited to walk around this Frescobaldi estate. It is only one of their many properties in Tuscany.

View from the lavish gardens

Italian garden, don’t call it french!

Cavallo Nero,(Black Kale), a winter vegetable, used in soups, such as ribollitta

Now it is time to begin the main event.

First, the olives are weighed, then sorted by a machine that removes the leaves, stems, and sticks.

the olives, as they arrive

sticks and leaves are separated

Then the olives are washed.

Lower your volume, the sound is deafening!

Next, the olives are crushed until obtaining a coarse paste that contains peel, pulp, and the pits. The oil is next separated from the paste.

The paste

The “sansa” contains waste material and can be pressed a second time because it still has oil residue.  Though it will never be cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, I suspect it is what is exported to Canada and America. Many of my friends do not like the “real” oil because it is spicy and different from what they are used to.

The pits are processed to become fuel for stoves or food for animals.

the waste material to be used for animal food and processed for industrial oil

At last, we see the liquid gold running from the taps and we take our oil home in stainless steel canisters.

Inspiration for all the years hard work

Cristina is very proud of her family’s oil

We rejoice by making fenttunta; grilled bread rubbed with fresh garlic and then sprinkled with the new oil.

The precious new oil

Stefano’s first taste

Luca concentrates on the liquid gold

I am full of gratitude for my Italian friends and the life I live here, if only briefly.

the old grinding stones, replaced by modern technology

9 thoughts on “Making the New Oil

  1. That’s quite a process. I never knew that even the pits could be used as animal fodd. Hope you can take some home to savour on a freezing cold day.

    • if all goes well I will have some oil to share.
      I hear it is still warm in Toronto but it cannot last much longer.

      • Amazing process — I had no idea! Yes, it has been strangely warm/hot in Toronto but I think that is about to end. Glad you are having a wonderful trip!

  2. I love your pics of the olive oil process. I never thought about all the steps required to create one of the world’s most favorite flavors. Amazing! The fotos of the land around the processing plant are beautiful. Beautiful Italy.

  3. You might have to come to CA and give us a tasting. I’m really enjoying your journey. I have been watching Stanley Tucci and I’m not sure which olive oil company he visited. Tuscany was awhile ago. You are just as interesting.
    Thanks for keeping us on the Italian roads. Louise

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