Organic extra virgin olive oil holds a central position on our dining table; after all, it is a key ingredient in many of our dishes! We source our olive oil from Les Moulins Mahjoub, a small Tunisian family farm. What makes olive oil from Les Moulins Mahjoub so special? Let’s start from the beginning.

Moulins Mahjoub Olive Trees

At Les Moulins Mahjoub, the Mahjoub family uses organic olives grown on the banks of Tunisia’s Medjerda River. The riverbanks have been an olive-growing region since Roman times. The Mahjoub family’s practice of cultivating their olive trees on such fertile land is vital in yielding olives with such intense flavor. Come December and January when the olives have ripened to a greenish-black color, they are hand-harvested.

To extract the oil, the Mahjoubs use a traditional cold pressing technique. While the technique began when the Greeks first began pressing olives, it is still used today to produce oils of the highest quality and integrity. ‘First cold-pressed’ refers to the fact that the olive has been crushed all at once at a temperature not exceeding 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Although alternative processing techniques that use heat or chemicals may extract more oil from the olive, this destroys the flavor and results in lower quality olive oil.

Moulins Mahjoub

Specifically, the cold pressing process begins by stone-grinding the olives into a paste. The paste is then spread onto hand-woven, natural-fiber disks, which are stacked and pressed together to extract water and oil from the paste. The oil is subsequently separated from the oil-water mixture using traditional decantation methods. In this step, the mixture will be allowed to sit. The oil will settle out to the bottom of the mixture, allowing the water to be poured away. The result of this process? Delicious and smooth extra virgin olive oil!

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Les Moulins Mahjoub packs many other of its specialty ingredients in this high quality oil as well. To check out these products (which include everything from sundried tomatoes to artichoke hearts) visit our online pantry! While you’re there, be sure to stock up on your own jar of olive oil to use in dressings, marinades or simply as a finishing oil. And, check out CNN’s coverage of Les Moulins Mahjoub for more information on olive oil the Tunisian way.

How do you incorporate organic extra virgin olive oil into your cooking? Comment your recipes below!