Should You Remove Twigs and Leaves Before Making Olive Oil? (And Other Debris)

man picking olives from net catcher to the container

To make high-quality olive oil, you should have perfectly ripe olives. Many people wonder if they need to remove twigs, leaves, and stems before the olive oil extraction process starts. Today, I’ll give you an answer to that question.

Before taking olives to oil mill facilities, you should always remove twigs, leaves, and other debris. That’s usually done when olives are transferred from net catchers to containers. It’s hard to completely remove all of them, but try to be thorough. Leftovers will be removed in oil mill facilities before the extraction process starts.

I gave you the answer, but as usual, I want to be more thorough in my articles, and I’ll elaborate on this topic much more. So, make sure to read the whole article.

Remove Twigs and Leaves While You Harvest Olives

The best way, and actually the only correct way is to remove twigs, leaves, stems, and other debris while you’re harvesting olives.

Related: How To Pick Olives Fast? 4 Easy Steps

The most efficient way is to do that as you transfer the olives from net catchers to the baskets. I tried to do it in several other ways, but they weren’t efficient at all.

Make sure to also pay attention to some rocks, wrecked glass, bracelets, metals, etc. Anything that’s really stiff can be extremely dangerous in mill facilities.

You should remove as many twigs and leaves (and other debris) as possible while harvesting, so there’s less chance of that dirt going through the oil press and ending up in oil content.

If you’ll make olive oil by yourself, then it’s even more important, since you probably won’t have any other tools to re-check olives for debris.

Machinery In Oil Mill Facilities Will Remove Leftovers

As you probably know, machinery in oil mill facilities will also remove leaves, twigs, and other debris before the olive extraction process starts.

Since they mostly use some kind of air blowers, they won’t be able to remove 100% of leaves, twigs, and other debris. That’s why it’s important that you remove as many of them as possible.

In my opinion, the separation process in mills is only to remove leftovers. You’re the one that should remove most of the debris, not the machinery. Also, there’s no guarantee that mills will remove all of them, as I already said.

Are There Any Tools Designed For Leaves and Twigs Removal?

There are many specialized tools that can help you remove leaves and twigs from the olives. However, they’re not extremely efficient since they require additional work, and also more people should work on them while you’re harvesting.

Furthermore, they slow down the harvesting process a lot. And as you already know, after they’re harvested, olives should be transported to mill facilities as soon as possible.

The biggest disadvantage of twigs and leaves separation devices is that there’s no one-size-fits-all tool that’ll be adequate for all olive species. Fruits from various olive cultivars are different sizes, if the grid on the separation tool is too small or too big, it won’t get the job done properly.

Luckily, these tools are improving too, so now you can already find leaves separators with air, and they’ll work for fruits from all kinds of olive species. They’re not extremely expensive, you can check one type of leave separator here.

If you’ll make olive oil at home, or in a traditional way using large grindstones, and also have only one type of olives in your orchard, I highly suggest you use these devices, since there won’t be any larger re-inspections later on.

Why It’s Important To Remove Them

Even though olive leaves are extremely healthy too, they should be completely removed from olives when making olive oil.

Reasons to remove leaves, twigs, and other debris before making olive oil:

  • Olive oil should be as clean as possible, and made only from olive fruits.
  • Leaves and twigs have different taste than olives, and they could affect the taste of the olive oil.
  • You’ll reduce the chances of leaves and twigs actually getting pressed with olives.
  • Oil mill machinery is sensitive to hard debris such as rocks, glass, metal, etc.
  • Leaves, twigs, stems, and other debris usually have plenty of dirt and insects on them.

Long story short, the fewer leaves, twigs, stems, and other debris, the better olive oil quality will be.

What If You Don’t Remove Them

If you completely neglect the separation of twigs and leaves, these things could happen:

  • Olive oil will taste differently.
  • Olive oil won’t be as quality as it could.
  • You could even affect the olive oil health benefits and nutritional properties.
  • Machinery in oil mill facilities could break due to damage caused by hard debris (rocks, glass, etc.).
  • Machinery could clog, making extra cost to mill, and they could charge you for the fix.

It’s much more important than it seems. Here’s an interesting fact – oil mill machinery should usually work for 20+ years. With improper use (unremoved twigs, leaves, debris from olives), the lifespan could shorten to 5 years only. Imagine the cost of that.  

Conclusion

I hope that now you understand the importance of removing leaves, twigs, stems, and other debris from the olives before making olive oil. Again, I recommend you separate them on the field while transferring olives from net catchers to containers. From my experience, that’s the most efficient way that won’t consume much of your time.

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