If there is a crucial moment in the cultivation of olive trees, it is the flowering, since it powerfully determines the next harvest. If the flowering is poor or suffers from inclement weather, the next harvest will be scarce.

This stage in which the olive tree is covered with flowers is very beautiful but if you are allergic to its pollen, we try to explain why the pollen is in the air with this article.

What is the name of the olive blossom?

This question is very easy for crossword puzzle fans as it is a common word in this popular pastime. The name of the olive flower is rapa, although it is also known by the name trama. Strictly speaking, this name is the one used for the flower before opening. In some places it is also known by the word esquimo.

How does it flower?

The variety of the olive tree is a determining factor in the number of flowers contained in each bunch. It usually grows in clusters of 10 to 40 flowers. Its four petals are white in the shape of a cross and in the center it has a yellow-orange color, where the pollen is found.

There are three types of flowers. The male or staminiferous flowers only have stamens, making them incapable of reproduction, so they generate a large amount of pollen. On the other hand, there are the perfect or hermaphrodite flowers, in charge of producing fruit.

Although most olive trees are hermaphrodites, their pollen cannot fertilize their own flowers, nor those of nearby olive trees if it recognizes them as belonging to the same family. Hence, pollen grains must travel long distances to pollinate flowers of other olive trees. It also helps that it is very soft and sweet, thus seeking optimal pollination with the help of insects.

When is the flowering phase?

Given that the ideal temperature for flowering is around 18-20º C, the usual in a Mediterranean climate at the end of April or beginning of May. This process can vary greatly depending on the variety of olive tree.

The climatic conditions that occur during flowering can condition this phase of the olive tree. On many occasions, temperatures tend to rise when the olive trees are in bloom or there are heavy frosts and rains. This can cause a weakening of the flowers themselves, which will not germinate and produce olives.

Once the germination process begins, from the time the first flower appears until the last flower is fertilized and falls off, it usually lasts 3-4 weeks. Of all the flowers we see on an olive tree, only 2-3% of them will finish the phase. Until the time of ripening of its fruit, the olive, quite a few will still be lost as they transform into fruit. In short, the olive tree will only keep the ones that can develop properly, achieving healthy olives with which to produce excellent extra virgin olive oil.


The negative effects of pollen

It is common knowledge, and even more so among allergy sufferers, that olive tree pollen causes allergic symptoms. Congestion, itchy nose, throat and palate, conjunctivitis and asthma are the main symptoms that occur as an allergic reaction to olive blossom pollen.

And after the olive blossom, the olives.

With the blossom, the olive farming process begins. Prior to this, the tree has had to be optimally prepared. With the setting of the fruit, that is, the passage from flower to fruit, the care and supervision is maximum to achieve healthy and pest-free olives until the moment of harvesting, with which to obtain an extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality.

It is not unusual for a day to go by without someone asking us if Oleoestepa extra virgin olive oil is first cold pressed. The answer is already recurrent: no, our oils are cold-pressed. And we already tell you that it is not the same thing. The main difference comes from the way the olive oil is extracted. While the press is an old and disused method, the extraction is the practice that allows the technological advances in the existing machinery in the current associated oil mills.

In short, although they seem to refer to the same thing, they are different production processes. We tell you the differences.

First cold pressing

This is the traditional system used since ancient times. In these ancient mills, the olives were crushed (broken in mills, usually stone mills) to form a paste. In the pressing phase, the solid part was separated from the oily paste, and this paste was placed on capachos (porous esparto discs) stacked one on top of the other and pressure was applied to it in order to extract the liquid inside. This liquid was a mixture of oil and vegetation water. It is a discontinuous system since these two phases are clearly differentiated: grinding and pressing.
If this process was carried out without the olive paste being heated above 27ºC, the resulting oil was first cold pressed.

This traditional process, although natural, was notable for its lack of hygiene and slowness in the process, which had a very negative effect on the final quality of the oils obtained.

Cold extraction

Nowadays, the new technologies applied in the oil mill allow a new system of obtaining the olive juice. The modern extraction system is based on a centrifugation process through industrial machinery, which achieves greater efficiency, safety, hygiene and, of course, quality with respect to the press system, preserving more organoleptic properties and health benefits.
That is to say, the current extraction is not carried out through a press itself, but thanks to the centrifugal force applied on the mass obtained after grinding the olives. Below we describe the phases that make up the current extraction system.

1. Crushing: The olive is crushed in order to extract the oil.
2. Beaten of the mass: The paste resulting from the milling is beaten to gather the greater number of drops of oil dispersed in the milled mass.
3. Centrifugation of the paste: The oil is separated from the olive by the effect of the centrifugal force that increases the differences between the specific densities of the oil and the “alperujo”.
4. Centrifugation of the liquids: The oil is cleaned by separating it from the humidity that may remain from the previous phase, and removing fine solids considered impurities.
5. Decanting: The oil is separated from the water and the impurities that have not been separated in the centrifugation processes.

If this whole process is carried out below 27 degrees, the oil obtained will be of cold extraction.

So, which is better?

Contrary to the popular belief that “any time in the past was better”, in the field of olive oil production technology is a great ally in the purpose of obtaining high quality extra virgin olive oils. Thus, thanks to modern production systems, the current extraction process is superior in all aspects to the traditional one, which allows “cold extraction” extra virgin olive oils to have greater organoleptic properties than “first cold pressed” oils.

In the case of the oil mills associated to Oleoestepa, all of them have implemented a continuous centrifugation production system that allows the cold extraction of the olive juice.
If you wish to know our cold extraction extra virgin olive oils, please visit the Products section.

Antonio Palacios Romero

Oil Master Miller at the associated cooperative San Nicolás in Marinaleda (Sevilla).

It was with the turn of the millennium when he began his professional relationship with this cooperative. Although he started as a miller, thanks to his love of mechanics, he soon became in charge of technical maintenance and in a couple of years he assumed the maximum responsibility in the production process of extra virgin olive oil in this mill.

In addition to having learned from his elders, he has also had to learn many things on his own, because he confesses “when you like your job you never stop thinking about what you can improve”.

During the campaign, he starts his activity at 2 p.m. with the opening of the unloading area for the olives harvested that morning, so that the milling process is as fast as possible, of a fresh and healthy fruit. “We know at what time we start, but never at what time we finish each day,” Antonio tells us, as it depends on the amount of olives delivered that day and if there has been any incident in their extraction. And the day does not end once the olives have been milled; everything must be left completely clean and ready for the next day.

At the San Nicolás cooperative they have two reception lines and two clarifiers, so that when one is full they can continue working without stopping and thus not waste time.

When it comes to determining the key to obtaining a good extra virgin olive oil, Antonio focuses on receiving fresh, healthy olives at their optimum point of ripeness, which is why he considers the work of the farmer to be fundamental. In his field, cleanliness, time and temperature are the two most relevant factors in achieving a high quality olive juice. “That everything is always clean and that the entire extraction process is carried out below 27 degrees in the shortest possible time are my main concerns,” says Antonio.

Antonio recalls with pride and emotion all the moments he has spent working, all the hours he has spent in this cooperative and all the efforts he has had to make to solve every unforeseen event that has arisen in all these years. “All the efforts are worth it when campaign after campaign we can enjoy an olive juice full of quality and affection” Antonio confesses to us to end this interview.

All interviews of oil masters mill: https://bit.ly/35qlqBS