There’s so much that’s good about olive oil! Packed with polyphenols, amino acids and healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil not only adds depth and flavor to food, it’s loaded with healthy antioxidants, has strong anti-inflammatory properties, is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, and reduces your risk for certain health conditions. You can even use it around the house to preserve finishes, fix squeaks, enhance your beauty routine, and much more!
So you know it’s a good idea to keep olive oil on hand, but have you ever thought of making your own olive oil? Even the most avid home gardeners and “clean” eaters might find the notion intimidating, but it’s actually easier than you might think. And given how expensive good olive oil can be, you may find the extra effort to be well worth it.
Step 1. Get some olives.
Obviously you’ll need olives if you want to make olive oil! For this “recipe,” you’ll want 2¼-2½ pounds. And you’ll want to use fresh, raw olives, not canned…canned olives are often over-ripened, and will create and oil that can go bad quickly.
Fresh olives can be tough to find, but you might have luck at some specialty stores. And if you live in the right climate, you can always grow your own…growing olive trees can be tricky, but as long as you can be sure they won’t have to deal with temperatures below 20°F you should be able to enjoy your own olive grove.
Not sure where you can find an olive tree for sale? Citrus.com has several varieties of Olive Tree available! In fact, our Arbequina Olive Tree is one of the best olive trees for making oil. The Pendolino Olive Tree and Leccino Olive Tree are also good choices. You can even get several different olive trees of different types and mix them to make a unique oil of your own!
Many types of fruit trees come in dwarf sizes, or can be pruned so they’ll grow well in containers. Unfortunately, the olive tree is not one of these. While they can be grown in pots for a time, eventually they will become root bound (even with pruning), and potted olive trees are unlikely to bear fruit. So if you want olives to make olive oil, or even just olives to snack on, you will need to grow your trees outside. Potted olive trees do make lovely ornamental plants, however, so if you live in a colder climate and have your heart set on having an olive tree, go ahead – just don’t expect to get fruit from it.
Step 2. Prep the Olives
Keep in mind while prepping your olives that they bruise easily; so be sure to handle them gently. Wash them thoroughly with cool water, sloshing them around to make sure they’re thoroughly clean. Pick out any leaves, twigs or other debris that might have gotten in with them before giving them a final rinse. You can then drain them thoroughly in a strainer.
Next, the olives will need to be pitted. A specialized tool called and olive and cherry pitting tool is best for this; they are inexpensive and can be found at most kitchen supply stores or online. You can also use a knife, a meat pounder (carefully!) or your fingers to remove the pits from olives.
Step 3. Crush the Olives
Put your prepared olives into a blender and bled for a few seconds to create large chunks. You can do a few at a time if they don’t all fit at once.
Add a half a cup of filtered, room-temperature water (warm water helps release the oil better than cold water) to the blender, then blend the olive-water mixture on high for 10-15 minutes to mash the large chunks into a paste. Once you can see shiny oils on the surface of the paste, it’s ready for pressing!
Step 4. Press the Olives
Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth (cut the cheese cloth so it’s about twice as large as the mouth of the strainer). Pour the mashed olive paste (chunks, liquid and all) directly into the center of the cheesecloth. Bring up the sides of the cheesecloth to form a secure bundle.
Holding your cheesecloth bundle over the bowl and strainer, press it with your hands to let the liquid drain out. Do this until you’ve extracted all the liquid you can from the bundle, then let the olive oil, juice and water drain through the cheesecloth and strainer for about ten minutes before giving the bundle a last press. Once all the liquid is drained from the bundle, transfer it into a see-through glass or container. Let it rest for at least two hours to allow the oil to separate.
Step 5. Bottle the Olive Oil
Carefully spoon the extracted olive oil from the top of the glass into a separate container. A dark, glass bottle is preferable. Use a solid cork or lid to seal it, and store it in a cool, dark place (away from sunlight).
And that’s it! Your preservative-free olive oil will last about two years before it spoils, but we’re betting you’ll have used it long before that to make salad dressing, dip for bread, cooking, homemade beauty and homecare products and more.