In our farm we produce and sell olive oil obtained from the very first pressing of olives. We choose the best methods of growing, picking, pressing and preservation, in order to get a maximum quality extra-virgin olive oil.
We have planted and grown over seven hundred olive-trees, following the traditional methods. The ancient farmers had to cope with the difficulties of having only pieces of land on the hillside, and having to obtain at the same time oil and wheat from them. It was quite hard, as the production had to be balanced with the bearing capacity of the soil, with the risk of making it sterile. Therefore, they placed the rows rather distant from each other, which is typical of Tuscany’s landscape, in order to sow wheat in between the olive-trees.
In spite of the new systems of intensive production, that grow over 400 olives per hectare, we have chosen to stick to the original cultivation, with only 150 plants in the same area. As a matter of fact, olive-trees that have been grown on hills, with plenty of ground, air and sun for each of them, and that have not been living stuffed in intensive cultivations on the plain, actually produce a far more tasty oil, with rich organoleptic properties.
There are quite a few cultivars of olives in our yards, some of them are typical from the area of Cornia valley (leccio, moraiolo, razzo), and some other varieties derive from the ancient plantations.
Olive picking is done very early during the year (even in middle October), and it has to be over as soon as possible, due to the fact that the organoleptic properties and the taste are likely to preserve for longer with an early harvest. Picking can start when olives are ripe and their color turns from green into darker shades. From this moment on, the amount of oil inside each fruit is not going to increase; on the contrary, waiting longer would only cause the loss of some of it.
In our farm picking is entirely hand-picking. We place a piece of cloth to collect olives at the feet of each tree. We climb a long chestnut-wood ladder onto the olive and “comb” the branches with a little rake, making all the fruits fall down. This way we only get the fresh olives collected in the cloth, and not the ones that had already fallen off, which may be under some degenerating processes: they would only make the quality and the taste of the oil worse.
Such method is very slow, tiring and rather expensive, but it’s worth doing, as all the olives are selected and the trees are respected. That doesn’t happen with “bacchiatura” (the olive is beaten with long poles ) that often causes the breaking of some parts of the tree, and neither with the mechanical shaking, that may result in serious damages to the roots.
In the evening we look through the harvest, taking away the fallen leaves, and we put the olives in wooden boxes. This is also important for their preservation and for the air circulation. In the past instead, olives were carried into bags, and therefore squashed at every move.
Pressing and squeezing
Olive squeezing can be done following two different methods, the traditional “cold” and the recent “warm”. In the “cold squeezing” procedure, the mixture obtained after grinding the olives is put in a press, from which the oil comes out. In “warm squeezing” the mixture is heated and put into a centrifuge, where oil is separated. Such heating process doesn’t imply any variation in physical, chemical, proteinic or nutritional characteristics of the oil.
In the early Nineties, Regione Toscana carried out a research into the quality of olive oil, picking up anonymous samples from a certain number of olive-presses that follower the cold and the warm-squeezing procedures. The samples were taken every fifteen days to analyse oil taste and organoleptic characteristics. Every sample was scored from 1 to 10, and Regione Toscana would accept only the oils scored over 7.
During the first days of analysis, the scores of the accepted oils were rather similar between the cold and the warm-squeezed. Every fortnight though the quality of cold-squeezed oils slightly declined, and in the long run only the other kind of oil would keep its high standards.
In cold squeezing, due to the expanded production in the late harvesting time, some enzymatic reactions and oxidization in the press alter the quality of the oil.
If a cold-squeezing press can maintain a high level of hygiene, it can certainly produce an excellent oil, but we have chosen a warm-squeezing press, which guarantees hygiene during the whole procedure, and constantly monitored low temperatures. We only accept supervises harvests, hat would not spoil and make dirty our machines before processing the olives.
After squeezing , our oil is neither filtered nor processed in any further way. The oil we produce has an intense, non transparent greenish color, with a strong aromatic taste. All these characteristics tend to fade away as time goes by, and eventually the oil is light, transparent and delicate flavored.
The farmers and the people who live here usually prefer the early oil (“olio novo”), for its tingling d taste, slightly bitter and with a fine savour of artichoke. Those who are not used to such a taste choose rather the spring oil, already decanted and with a softened aroma, even though little by little they start to like best the “olio novo”.
According to the standard for extra virgin olive oil, the acidity must be less than 1 gram per litre. Our oil’s acidity varies between 0.2 and 0.4 grams per litre.
Oil should be kept in a cool place, not exposed to light. Better consume within a year, in order not to loose organoleptic properties, but if well-preserved the oil can also last 2 to 3 years.
Non filtered oils, especially if bought during winter, leave a slight sediment in the container. Such sediment is minimum in spring oils, as they have already decanted. Under no circumstances may the sediment suggest any deteriorating process, on the contrary, it is a proof that the oil is genuine.
Being universal recognized like the condiment for excellence, the better way in order to taste the olive oil, and above all the new oil, is undoubtedly the “Bruschetta Toscana” that is a roasted slice of the classic Tuscany homemade bread with abundant olive oil and a bit of salt. This is the way to appreciate every shading of taste and scent of the oil, and, if tasting a “olio novo” to feel the characteristic pungency .
The oil is also extraordinary on all the types of Mediterranean salads , or , in winter, on soups or “ribollite” : once ready the soup is first flavored with “Parmigiano” cheese, then olive oil gives to every dish a special taste and with the heat of the soup a wonderful scent diffuses in the air…