From the olive grove to your kitchen, for every bottle of Biona Olive Oil that we produce, there is a story. Straight from the beautiful farms in Calabria, Southern Italy, the olives are harvested and minimally processed into the highest quality extra virgin olive oil.
Recently there have been reports in the news that during the harvesting of olives, birds are being injured or even killed. We want to assure everyone that here at Biona no birds are harmed during the production of our olive oils.
We know that that the origins of our products are important, which is why we want to take you through the process of how our olive oil is made. From harvesting all the way through to bottling.
From the Farms of Calabria
Our olives are grown on a family farm in Calabria that has been producing extra virgin olive oil for over 25 years. The Mediterranean climate in southern Italy where the groves are surrounded by hills and mountains are perfect for olive growth which require long hot summers. Around 80% of the olives grown here are of the Carolea variety. These olives have a delicate taste with subtle fruity notes. Other varieties grown here in much smaller quantities include Ottobratica, Rogianella & Cassanese.
Ripened under the Italian Sun
The olives are usually harvested between the middle of October and the beginning of January. This time period varies based on when the olives are at their best age in terms of poliphenols and chlorophile, the micronutrients and antioxidants that we get through plant-based foods. This period is usually when the olives are just beginning to ripen and are bright in colour.
The sad news that we referred to earlier happens when large machinery, which covers the entire tree, is used to harvest at night. Our olive harvest is a much smaller production, as we work with a family run farm, and they only ever harvest during the day. A small machine is used to gently shake the olives off the tree, by attaching itself to the trunk. Nets are placed on the ground to catch the olives and then our farm workers place them into crates where they are transported from the groves to the pressing facility.
When the olives reach the pressing unit, they are separated from their branches and leaves then visually checked to ensure they are of high quality. Our workers specifically look for colour, appearance and if there are any abnormalities. The olives are subsequently washed and drained ready to be processed.
Cold Pressed Extraction
Just hours after being picked, the olives are cold pressed to retain their distinctive flavour. This is carried out using a two-phased process that minimises the handling of olives. During pressing, temperatures only ever reach a maximum of 27°C for 45 minutes and no other refining, heat or processing methods are used.
After cold pressing, we determine the acidity of our olive oil. This extraction method together with the handpicking of the olives at their best age, produces an exceptionally high-quality olive oil which has a low acidity level of 0.30-0.5%. For an olive oil to be labelled extra virgin its acidity level must be less than or equal to 0.8% – so this level really does determine the quality of any given olive oil.
Bottling & Infusing
After extraction we either bottle our olive oil just as it is, or we infuse it to create wonderfully flavoured oils. We’ve recently launched two new delicious infusions: Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chilli Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Infused with organic Habanero Chillies & Sicilian lemons they are perfect for drizzling over all your favourite dishes. From salads and sauces to pasta and pizza.
We use dark green glass bottles to fill our olive oil as this protects it from any light damage.
So, there you have it! We really hope you have enjoyed learning about how our olive oil is produced, and to have assured you that here at Biona animal welfare and the environment are our top priority and concern. If you have any further questions or feedback, please do get in touch as we would absolutely love to hear from you!
For more inspiration on how to use our Italian Olive Oil, head over to our website where you’ll find a variety of delicious recipes.