26 Mar There are men who fight one day and are good…
In the days of early 2007, I met a man who had a dream: to create a perfect extra virgin olive oil. Perfect, and in large quantities. He invented the process of producing hundreds of tons of olive juice that were at their optimum moment of milling. They are olives that ripen in ideal conditions, in trees irrigated with the right amount of water, and sun for their growth and flowering, on a fertile soil of nutrients, in a favourable environment.
Because this man had been born and raised in a sea of olive trees in the province of Jaén and knew that a litre of extraordinary oil could be made by anyone, it was enough to simply collect some green olives from the tree, crush them, and press the paste until he obtained their juice. That juice is cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Immaculate, precise, precious.
But if it were necessary to collect several hectares of olive groves, take the olives to a mill, and press them on some esparto grass mats, this process would involve many days and the oil that is finally obtained is not the same as that of the first litre.
Let us think of the olive as what it is, a fruit. Take a peach, for example. For a peach to arrive from the field to the table in perfect condition, it must be pampered at all times, like a treasure, so that it does not suffer blows or pile up for hours under tons of other peaches. If that were so, if the peach arrived beaten and after hours or days under tons of other peaches, the flesh and the juice obtained from it would not be in perfect condition.
Extra virgin olive oil is the juice of an olive. But it is the juice that is obtained by forcefully pressing the fruit or the paste that is obtained from grinding the fruit. It is not as easy as squeezing it like an orange, because it is not water, it is oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the only oil obtained by the simple pressure of the fruit. Any other vegetable oil is obtained after a refining process, i.e. by chemical procedures. Sunflower, soy, and coconut oils are obtained using heat and, in many cases, solvent solutions.
There is only one virgin oil, and that is the olive oil.
This man, called José, saw how the olives were allowed to mature in his land until they were black on the tree, until they fell by their own weight to the ground, before beginning to collect them. Beginning, because it took months to finish the harvest, from the end of December to February or March. By March, the olive was like a raisin, fermented if it had fallen to the ground and soft, easy to grind. The oil would come out after squeezing gently with the fingers; it was easy to obtain, but unpleasant to taste.
All the delicious aromas and flavours of that first juice had disappeared, but nobody cared about that, the oil was sold by the kilos, without any distinction of quality, if it was extra virgin, or if it was virgin, or if, as in most cases, it was lampante, the price at which it was sold was very similar. The price was set by Italian refiners and packers, each year according to the quantity produced, at a price more or less similar to the cost of production, to live to produce, to work to live. As a whole, they were only Andalusian farmers. Nobody cared much about the unreasonableness of it all, while the multinational companies made themselves rich by selling it at very little margin, but in great volume. Peseta by peseta, lira by lira.
This man began by manufacturing an oil mill with the latest oil production technology. He did not have to press on mats anymore. In order to be perfect, the oil had to be obtained by using a centrifuge on the paste so that it did not come into contact with the fermented remains of previous processes. Once ready, he decided to pick the olives earlier, even green or golden on the tree, with good weather, and take them to his own mill to grind them with a much lower yield and, therefore, in lesser quantity. In the village, they called him the madman. That is where the madman goes. Go into the shadows, madman, and everyone laughed at him.
Today, there are few who doubt that the best oil is obtained by doing this, with green olives and grinding them cold on the same day of harvesting and centrifuging them, but there are very few who can do so, much less in large quantities. Jose is one of them, probably the one who does it the best and the most.
Now, eleven years later, when production capacity of an excellent oil is so great that he has hundreds of tons of an authentic elixir in the tanks of his oil mill, we have created the EXTTRA PICUAL brand. EXTTRA is not only an extra virgin olive oil of the Picual variety, but also THE Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Picual variety. It is the best olive juice that can be obtained from this variety, packaged in a dark bottle and accessible to the consumer at the best possible price.