Monday, December 7, 2009

A modern olive press

Exactly two years ago today I got to watch for the first time how olives are pressed!
This blog did not exist yet then. But now it does, and for That's My World Tuesday I'm happy to show you where olive oil comes from.

Olive trees have been cultivated here in the hills around Jerusalem for thousands of years.
My neighbor-friends have a few trees and I helped them pick the olives.
We drove the full sacks to the Trappist Monastery of Latrun.
First they were weighed on the big scale.

Then placed in the hopper.

Quickly transported upwards on a conveyor belt.

Lots of noise. They were shaken and cleaned of any leaves or little stones.

Then the ~grinding began. (Not sure what the proper word is here.)

The workers wore ear protection.

The machine comes from olive-rich Italy.
Click to enlarge here--maybe you understand the Italian (or the Hebrew that had been added).

Just think how donkeys once had to go around and around in circles, pushing a heavy crushing stone, before this machine was invented.

Here it comes!

Beautiful pure olive oil!

The pomace, pulp left over after pressings, goes through the pipe into a wagon.

In Hebrew it is called gefet.
The Bedouin and Arabs have long known how to turn this gefet into fuel. Now Israeli Jews are learning too.
 In wood-burning stoves gefet becomes an ecologically perfect fuel, burning with 2.5 times more energy than a comparable piece of wood. And what is left after burning can be put on the garden as fertilizer.
Back home from the monastery, I felt deep pleasure contemplating the clear rich oil, the fruit of our labor.
With its long history, its use in the menorah and for anointing, olive oil is much more than just a food.


  1. Thanks for sharing, that was interesting. I love olive oil for cooking and just for the beautiful colour.

  2. What a fascinating post, Dina! I loved learning more about olive oil other than the fact that I use it a lot here. Didn't realize before that what is left over is used so efficiently as well! That's terrific!
    Thanks for the lesson and the photos!

    Have a great week!


  3. What a great post. I'm going to add a link to it to the ancient olive press post I put up this week for all those who said they didn't know anything about olives.

  4. I love going to places like this - great post, Dina! Really fascinating!

  5. Thanks for sharing! It was great information and photos about the Olive oil. we have been trying to use it more often with our cooking.

  6. What about the seeds? Are they removed before grinding?

    I love whole olives, but am allergic to olive oil, which makes me run to the bathroom many times.

  7. The process reminds me of how they make Apple Cider around here.

    Thank you for sharing the process.

  8. Thank you for showing us this ecologically sound product. A very interesting post indeed Dina.

    Thank you for your comment on my mathematical granddaughter. The Prof's parent were both mathematicians, his father quite noted in pure mathematics.

  9. This was a post that should be in a magazine, or win an award or something!

    I was struck by the similarities between Jerusalem olives and Kona coffee. Just change "olives" to "coffee beans" and it is a very similar story.

    Thanks for inviting us, Dina.


    Comfort Spiral

  10. Thanks very much for a interesting posting. Great photos.

    I use olive oil in my cooking so it was great to catch a glimpse of the process.

  11. first time i have seen the process. thanks for sharing.

  12. I have never thought about using the leftover pulp for fuel. Very efficient. You got some good shots there!
    Now, I'll have to check out Robin's post...

  13. Shalom friends! Thanks much for all your informative comments! Interesting!

    Gigi, no, the pits are not removed. They are hard enough to withstand the pressing.

  14. I live in an olive region during the summer months and I always appreciated how they are making the golden liquid out of them. By the way Sara is saying Hi to you from the comments section of my Blessings post.

  15. Well, how marvelous the modern technology, feed the olive in one end and the olive oil comes out from the other end. I saw a similar machine for grapes at Napa Valley not long ago. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hello Dina!
    Though I am constantly in supply of EVOO, I have never seen nor thoroughly contemplated exactly how it is made... and here it is, thanks to you. Thanks for resurrecting this story for the blog.
    And contemplating that beautiful emerald fruit of thy labor... I am going to my kitchen right after this and admire the work I have till now taken for granted (everything originates from the supermarket, right).
    Something else that makes your sharing today so meaningful for me, is that my Grandmother was anointed by her Pastor with Olive Oil at the end of October just before her death. At the time, it struck me as odd when he pulled out a smaller version of the bottle I had at home.
    I hadn't really contemplated that moment until now, your post here helping to make it such a valuable memory. Thanks for sharing your experiences, they satisfy some of the deepest yearnings in me.
    David *

  17. I think this is the first time I see a modern olive press. I've only been at an old one from the 18th century which is now an art gallery. I have posted some shots here:
    if you like to see them.

  18. Olive trees are very useful plants. Olive oil is wonderful for cooking but I never would have guessed the rest of the olive would be better than wood as fuel.

  19. I think I use the word "fascinating" almost every time I comment here! I'm not the only one! But it's true once again.

    I rarely go through a day without using olive oil, usually for cooking. I just learned to make soap last week, for which we used olive pomace oil.

  20. Wonderful post, Dina. Really, really interesting. I didn't know olive oil was used in lighting the menorah. What a terrific feeling it must be to use olive oil straight from his own tree.

  21. Dina I'm so pleased that you pointed me towards this post, I was really pleased to read about how olives are pressed in your part of the world. I havent shown the grinding stone in mine but it's a large stone wheel that goes round in circles just like when it was pulled by donkeys except it is now mecanic.

    I found the details about gefet very interesting. I wonder what it's called in France and how it's used. Perhaps we could get some to put into our wood-burning stove? I'll have to do some research about that.

    Thanks again for this beautiful post.


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