Olive oil has had many uses beyond just for cooking - for thousands of years it has been used in cosmetics, medicine and it was even used in the original olympic torch as fuel. Follow our handy guide on how to make olive oil at home for you to enjoy or gift to others.
When making olive oil at home, it’s up to you if you decide to use green or black olives, ripe or unripe - as long as they’re fresh and not from a can, it doesn’t matter. The only difference is it will change the final flavour profile of your olive oil. If you don’t live near olive trees or an olive farm you can order raw olives online.
You can pick the olives individually but this can be painstaking so if you’re making a large batch, you’re better off shaking the tree or you can also use a garden rake to whack the branches.
Don’t worry about leaves ending up mixed in with the olives as we’ll clear those out later.
It’s fine to use any olives that are on the ground as long as no pests have decided to make a home out of them.
As tempting as it is to eat an olive straight off the tree, you’ll find they’ll be very bitter, which is why they fermented in brine to make them edible.
Into the kitchen we go. Give your olives a wash removing any leaves or twigs.
Now it’s time to remove the pits from the olives. There are ways you can make your life easier for yourself by getting a pitter but if you don’t have one you can also use a knife to carefully squeeze the pit out.
Pitting an olive with a knife
Worth noting is the pitting process can take a lot of time so I’d definitely recommend shoving on your favourite film whilst doing this.
Pour the pitted olives into a blender with a bit of hot but not boiling water - this helps to form a soft paste as you blend.
Once blended, vigorously stir the olive paste with a spoon for a few minutes - this will help to draw out the oil.
Then cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that more oil continues to draw itself out.
To extract the olive oil you need to line a colander or sieve with a cheesecloth and put a bowl underneath.
Spoon the olive mix onto the cheesecloth, gather the ends and tie the cloth so you have a secure bundle.
Then you want to put a weight on top of your bundled olive paste that’s heavy enough to be pressing down.
Leave it for about 30 minutes so the liquid can drain out of the paste into your bowl., checking every 10 minutes and pressing down on the weight to help with the extraction.
If there’s still a lot of sediment in the liquid, you can pass it through again.
Then you want to put the extracted liquid into a clear glass and leave it to separate. A layer of oil should appear on top.
Using a turkey baster or a syringe, you want to collect that top layer of oil and avoid catching the layer underneath.
Store in a clean bottle that’s tightly sealed and ideally a tinted colour to protect the oil from sunlight. Homemade olive oil won’t last as long as shop-bought so it’s best to enjoy it within 2-4 months.
This olive oil features in our guide on homemade gifts for foodies. Have a read here for inspiration for making homemade condiments, sweet treats, and culinary essentials.