Mangawhai Extra Virgin Olive Oil
On our two ace plot we have almost 200 olive trees which were planted about 17 years ago. The majority of the trees are the typical Greek variety called Koroneiki, which are predominately used for oil as their small fruit has a high quality yield of oil. We also have a few very large J5's sprinkled through, as well as an area of Frantoio trees (the ones most found in Tuscany) dotted around our shed.
We prune the trees once a year just after harvest time, removing any dead wood and reshaping them into the vase shape.
Once a year in early May, friends and family volunteers (!?) come together to help harvest the olives. We try to get this done in one day, which we finally managed to do in 2019 where we picked 835kgs of olives in an 8 hour day! We hire mechanical rakes to shake the olives off the trees, and lay down a whole heap of nets on the ground to catch the olives as they rain down!. We pour the olives into crates , and then give them a quick run over with the leaf blower to remove the worst of the leaves. The olives are then put in 250kg bins, ready for transporting to the press.
At the end of the day we have to quickly and carefully drive the bins of olives to the local press in Wellsford. For the Olive oil to be certified as extra virgin the fruit needs to be pressed within 24 hours of picking, and it must be cold pressed meaning no heat is applied.
At the press all eyes are on the yield...the % of oil from the olives. We usually get about 16% yield, so 835kg of olives = 135 litres of oil. The olives are cold pressed, meaning that no heat is added to the olives which would damage the antioxidants. It is also crucial that the olives are pressed within 24 hours from picking as oxidation in the fruit starts to degrade the fruit as soon as it is picked. Once pressed, the oil is stored in stainless steel vats which allows any sediment to settle to the bottom. We don't filter our oil as we prefer to keep it natural & leave all the best flavours in there! Each year we send a few samples of our oil to Australia to be tested, so we can gain Olives NZ certification as extra virgin olive oil.
We bottle our oil only when we need it to keep it fresh as possible.