Tours and Activities:
Old Named Olive OilMónica PonsEduardo Epifanio
Very good organization and hard work are two overt features in this venue, where high quality oil is made from the good olives of San Rafael.
Very close to the City of San Rafael, in Cuadro Benegas, we discovered a small venue where olive oil is made. Its name -“Elaia”- sounded special; therefore, we resolved to get in and find out more about it.
Pablo, the person in charge, welcomed us and took us on a tour around the oldest olive tree plantations. He confirmed that these noble plants have produced excellent olives for many years and he told us that the youngest plants, incorporated later on, had a different genetic map. As a consequence, the harvest may be carried out earlier and very good results can be obtained.
In the past, the plantations used to occupy a larger area and were irrigated naturally. Nowadays, the plants are grouped and irrigated by dripping. This way, the production quality has been enhanced and the plant lifespan increased.
We entered the grinding room and became interested in the process, which starts as soon as the olives arrive. A fan sets the leaves away and only the olives fall through the hopper into the washing machine. Then, they are moved onto the mill.
Intense Aroma in the Air
The paste then goes into the mixer whose exterior is covered by warm distilled water. This enables the oil to be separated from the paste.
Helped by another pump, the paste is moved into the decanter, where the oil is separated from the water and the grounded nut and part of the pulp, which are used as manure. Two thousand kilos of olives go through this process during and eight-hour period.
Pablo pointed out that only one extraction is carried out at this factory. This produces top-quality extra virgin oil. Other venues manage a second and even a third extraction by using chemical additives.
The product obtained is stored in stainless steel tanks, where it is cleared. Before being bottled, it goes through paper filters. Glass bottling enables customers to see the purity of the oil. The oil is also bottled in plastic drums. It is recommended that olive oil is consumed in the short term in order to preserve its properties.
According to Pablo: “If there is one thing to be proud of, it is that we do not use any additives and we manage cold extraction”.
Arberquina olives are processed, which produce the best results. When olives remain in the plant after three months, they are edible and very sweet but not commercialized as products of mass consumption.
Open the Old Books
“Elaia” is a Greek term from which another word has derived: “olea”, in Latin. Afterwards, the word changed into “olive”, “oliva”, “olivo”. Then, an Arabian term was connected to it, namely “zaitun”, from which the word aceite (which stands for “oil” in Spanish) derives.
Thus, we understood the name of the factory.