After the olives are harvested from the fields, they are brought to one of the two olive oil presses located at the edges of the village.
The villagers speak with the miller and record the number of olive bags they have brought. The bags are cut open and the olives are sorted out from their branches. Only the olives are washed and continue through the process of being pressed.
Each villager’s olive oil is kept in separate vats labeled with their last name as the pulp is being stirred. A worker continuously monitors the oil as it is being pressed and ensures the temperature stays low, hence being “cold pressed.”
As the men wait for their olives to be pressed, they talk with each other and compare notes on the condition of their olive trees, how many sacks they were able to harvest, how much water they needed to buy for irrigation, what pruning techniques work the best, etc.
Once the process is complete and the oil is separated, the quantity is measured and the oil-to-sack ratio is calculated. At this time the villager can fill their barrels with their oil to take home, or they sell it to the coop, who then sells it to larger olive oil distributors. The oil-to-sack ratio is very important and becomes a popular topic of most conversations during the winter months in the village.
We obtain our oil on the day that it is pressed and keep it in barrels in our apotheki (storage room). The oil must then settle for 2 months before we can ship it to the United States.