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Olive Milling 2010


Greener than grass green.  Greener than emerald green. Maybe as green as the finest opaque jade.  Maybe obsidian green, if obsidian had a green tinge!  That's what 100% Oregon grown olive oil looks like this year.  But, I get ahead of myself…

We made the decision back in August that this year's olive crop would be used to make olive oil.  We knew the crop was going to be green, but hey, we are an experimental group.  What better way to find out what the greenest crop of olives would turn into than to just do it!

Olives can and are picked different for making into oil.  With olives for table olives, much care must be taken in order to make a quality unblemished product.  With olives for olive oil, the idea is to get them off the tree as quickly as possible.  So, it was a good year to try out different approaches to picking too.

Sara (on the left) is picking olives by hand, into a "bucket" on the ground.  Carmen on the right is picking into a shoulder strap waist bucket, using a hand olive rake:

                                       100% Oregon grown and processed olive oil, Dec 2010.

A closer view:

It was a cold day, Nov 21st 2010 was, and Sara is properly geared up with cool earmuffs!


Carmen, Hannah, Sara and I (David) finished picking the Reken Estate Sunday.  Monday, the weather had changed to rain and sleet, and I was the last picker in the field.  Fortunately, at least for me, the crop on our own land (Kathy's Grove) was very light, and I was able to get most of it before my fingers stopped working.


Milling was to be Tuesday.  I had run a small amount of olives through the machine Monday, just to make sure I could at least get the machine to work (having never run an olive mill in my life).  Well, that night and the next day the temperature never got above freezing, and the residual water in the mill froze up in the pipes!


Between this and not knowing what I was doing (mind you I was figuring all this out as I went - I am writing this with hindsight), the milling didn't actually happen until Wednesday.

Our mill needs about 30 kilos minimum to make a batch of olive oil.  How much is that?  It is about three 5 gallon buckets full.  I divided ours into four buckets based on type, size and ripeness (I am a fanatic about gathering data).

Let's go!  The Arbequina are dumped into the hopper!  Our stripped down machine has just a couple of things different from a more expensive automated system: the olives are loaded manually, and the wastes are dumped manually.  And yes, that is snow on the ground.  The temperature was below freezing all day on milling day...

Crank away!  The olives are manually fed into the knife mill with the hand crank, and then fall into the malaxer.

I put a beer brewing thermometer on the malaxation tank, it shows we are at the high end for making ale.  For making olive oil, this is definitely colder than desired.  The standard for "cold pressing" is as close as one can get to but no higher than 86 F.  A higher temperature will start to degrade the olive oil, but a lower temperature will reduce yield.

The malaxer looks to be filled up and olive paste is starting to come out the end of the tank...

It's overflowing!  In hindsight, I should probably have added some hot water at this point.  The cold stiff "dry" paste (being green it has more solids and less water and oil than "normal") is being pushed towards the exit port, and is too stiff to relax down and back into the malaxer.

If you look closely you can see our first olive oil puddling along the bottom!  Unbeknownst to me, Hanna snuck in and got the very first taste of our olive oil!

The obligatory picture of the first olive oil [coming out the right place]!

Carmen, sampling the output:

The total output was in the range I expected, a little less than 2 liters collected and not immediately consumed:

Sept. 2011  Got olives?  We have an olive oil mill!


This mill was deliberately purchased to be at the very low capacity end of professional quality mills; it is a stripped down OlioMio30 two phase mill; and is going to be used as our “Research and Development Mill”.  Nothing fancy, but top notch components including a 4200 rpm centrifuge.

We are pleased to announce that we will do non-commercial Custom Milling for free, of batches of approximately 30 kg of sound Oregon grown olives.  Grow your own olives, have your own Estate olive oil!

We are offering this service free of charge to the local community.  However, we would like to make it clear this service IS NOT offered if you intend to sell the resulting oil.  This really shouldn’t be an issue, as the yield for a 30 kg lot of olives is only expected to be around three liters – hardly commercial quantity.  But to avoid any potential conflicts with the laws of the land, we need to make it clear this service is being provided for free, with the understanding the resultant product does not meet any legal requirements for use in the commercial marketplace, if there are any such requirements.

Email David@OregonOliveTrees.com to set up your own custom milling appointment at a time suitable for both of us!

What do we get out of this?  A feeling that we are helping the olive growing community, to help encourage people to plant olive trees in Oregon, and to learn to be top notch olive oil mill operators in the process!  I am an old line manufacturing guy, who firmly believes the way to move up the manufacturing learning curve is to do as many “production runs” as possible, in the most timely fashion possible.

We are also offering free Community Milling this year (for people who have less than 30 kg of olives to mill).  We are anticipating that our Community Milling Day will be Nov. 27, 2011.  If you have at least a gallon of olives, bring them over on Community Milling Day and we will mill them free of charge.  We will throw everybody's olives together to create a batch that will meet our minimum batch size (30 kg); and you will receive your proportional share of the resulting olive oil!  Note that a full gallon of olives is about 5 pounds and will yield perhaps 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Some amount of co-ordination is probably going to be required, say if an early damaging to olives storm hits.  Please contact David@OregonOliveTrees.com no later than Oct 27, 2011 if you are interested in community milling.  Please include an estimate of the size of your 2011 harvest!

Note to the general public: this is not an "Open to the Public" sort of Agriturismo Event.  It is strictly for Oregon olive growers who have had the conviction and passion to plant olive trees, to get a chance to have olive oil made from the fruit of their efforts.  Thanks in advance for your understanding.

                                       Kathy's Grove: Leccino olives in the rain, 11/22/09