First I will tell you some info about olives.
It seems like almost everyone in Andalucia has someone in the family who has a piece of land with a few olives.
Almost all Andalucians will have at some point been requisitioned into helping with the olive harvest.
The olives are picked from the start of December to the end of February.
Nets are places around the bottom of the trees and the olives are bashed off with sticks or by hand.
Most villages of any size have a 'cooperativa' which is where the villagers bring their olives to be pressed and made into oil.
Making oil from olives is a time consuming process which needs heavy machinery so most people prefer to take their olives to the cooperative.
It is possible to take either money or oil in exchange for olives. Most people prefer to take oil because the amount of money offered is so low. (A kilo of olives are only worth about 30 cents) 100 kilos of olives would normally produce about 20 litres of oil. In the supermarket you can get 5 litres of oil for about 12 Euros. Really good cold pressed olive oil sells for about 3-4 Euros per litre. When people bring their olives to the cooperative a few are taken at random as a sample and sent to a lab to be tested. The value of the olives depends on the acidity.
Most of the modern cooperatives use centrifugal systems to extract the oil in a semi-industrial process. The more traditional method is to first grind the olives into a paste using massive conical olive stones then to spread the paste onto mats which are then put into a press.
At modern cooperatives there is not a lot to see. Just the people lining up to dump their olives into the pit before having the leaves blown off and then weighed. However there is a very traditional olive cooperative between Diezma and Darro just off the road from Granada to Guadix. They have recently revived an old olive cooperative that has been running since 1915. They don't mind if you put your head around the door and watch the process. The olive oil they produce is very 'basto' in effect meaning strong flavoured and a little murky. It's absolutely brilliant drizzled over a few tomatoes or a salad. Ask them to sell you some, they have 2 litre or 5 litre containers.
If you want to go there the name is Santa Casilda just go to Darro and ask for directions.
Contact details are:
Ctra. Arroyo de los Villares, s/n
18181 DARRO (Granada)
Teléfono y fax: 958 680 321
Móviles: 675 746 040 / 627 440 588
To see pictures and more info click on this linkClick Here
Here is a FAQ about Olive Oil Click Here