Press - Cont...
Is it worth the effort?
Whilst saving money was not the driver for wanting to make oil at home, it is still a consideration.
In May 2004, I attended an olive picking and pressing weekend at an Olive Grove near Perth. I picked around 100kg of olives in a couple of hours which were combined with the other olives from the group (around 1500kg in all) and the following day delivered to an olive oil processor. The olive processing machines (four in total) did all the steps, except the filtration, with minimal intervention. The point of this little story...
The charge for my 100kg of olives was only A$35 (approx. US$25). They had a minimum processing quantity of 250kg, but I'm sure in future years I won't have too many problems in getting my own small group together to pick and press this quantity.
So is it worth? In my opinion - no. Even at my budget price of US$400 (which now seems unrealistic) it would take me 16 years, assuming I processed 100kg per year, just to get my money back - and that doesn't include the extra effort involved in crushing and pressing.
As a matter of interest, the cost of the olives was A$1.50/kg. The 100kg yielded 16L of oil. This gave a total cost of A$11.50/L. Here in Perth we can purchase 4L tins of reasonable quality imported oil for between A$40-A$60. So the price is comparable, but fresh locally produced olive can cost upwards of A$30-A$50 per litre!
So why are olives different to grapes?
This is an interesting question. The great thing about the olive oil is that you start with olives at one end of the machine and after about an 45mins oil starts coming out at the other. You can start with 100kg of olives and after a few hours go home with 15L-20L of oil. The whole process is relatively quick and final. The only step for you to do is filtering, which is relatively simple (and not even absolutely necessary).
With crushing and pressing grapes, the process is quite different. To start with, these two processes are spread out over at least a week (for red wine). And second, the oil you take home is relatively small and manageable, but with the grapes, it is very difficult to transport over 100kg of crushed and/or pressed juice.
Here are some sites I came across in my search on the Internet.
http://www.oliveoilsource.com - Sells the small crusher/press for around US$2,400.
Final word of thanks
Finally, thank you to all those people who have emailed with their interest in my research and opinion. While the outcome for me was in the negative, it doesn't mean it has to be for you!
... back to page one
Note for US readers: 1kg = 2.205lbs; 1L = 0.379gal