Locally Sourced Jordanian Olive Oil Factory Tour at Terra Rossa

Finding things to do and places to visit in Jordan on the weekends is becoming more and more tedious as we knock things off the list. We’ve already hit the major tourist sites, scoured the guide-book, and are now left to our own devices and suggestions from others for things to do. Luckily for us, a tour of an olive oil plant was offered so we took advantage of the opportunity. (In case you didn’t know (I didn’t), Jordan is known for its olive oil. Olive trees are everywhere here and are the known as the oldest trees in the world. We often see people collecting olives from the trees in the neighborhoods).

Had we not been part of a caravan to the factory, we would have passed it by, as we’ve already done on numerous occasions. The exterior of the factory is unassuming, like most buildings here, but once we entered, I was surprised to see such a large operation. We went on a brief tour of the factory, sampled a couple different types of olive oil, grabbed a snack, and then bought a few things in the gift shop.

[FYI: The name of the factory is Terra Rossa, or ‘Red Soil,’ named for the indigenous type of red clay soil produced by the weathering of limestone. Compared to most clay soils, terra rossa has good drainage characteristics making it a popular soil type for olive and wine production. The main types of olives used for the production of olive oil in Jordan are Nabali, Improved Nabali, Souri, and Roman.]

The process for olive milling (or pressing) is as follows:

Olives being fed into the machine to be washed
Olives moving up into the machine to be washed
Washing the olives

1. Washing: The first step is to clean the olives, removing stems, leaves, twigs, and other debris left with the olives. 

Grinding the olives with a millstone

2. Crushing: The olives are ground into a paste with a millstone to tear the flesh cells of the olive to facilitate the release of the oil from the olives.

Malaxing the paste

3. Malaxing: Mixing the crushed olive paste.

Separating the oil from the vegetable water and solid


4. Separation of oil from vegetable water and solid (done through centrifugation)

Huge canisters of olive oil ready for delivery
Olive pomace, the waste product of the industry (but it can be used for cooking if and heating if it's made into briquette logs.)
In front of an old millstone

After the tour we tasted a couple of olive oil samples and then were treated to manaeesh (dough topped with za’atar (thyme with sesame seeds and olive oil) or cheese), which were cooked over an open fire of olive pomace logs.

Preparing manaeesh

After our snack and tea, we made it to the gift shop to purchase a few bottles of sinolea olive oil and a couple of terra-cotta serving bowls to accompany the oil. I haven’t tried cooking with this gold standard of olive oil (and we’ll have to keep it in the food safe with our honey from Yemen), but I’ll let you know if I can detect any difference and if it’s worth it.  🙂

Store shelves lined in oils
The purchases...

[FYI: Sinolea is a method used to extract oil from the olives. Extra virgin olive oil extracted from this method is said to be the “flower of the oil” as there is minimal interference in the extraction of the oil because no heat is applied. In this method of extraction, polyphenols (the good for you stuff in EVOO) are concentrated 3X more than in regular EVOO.]

12 thoughts on “Locally Sourced Jordanian Olive Oil Factory Tour at Terra Rossa

  1. Do I win the prize? Am I the first post in the comments section? 🙂 I covet your stash of terra cotta and olive oil. Have I mentioned that Christmas is right around the corner? The olive oil looks beautiful. Is there an online source? BTW, what do you want for Christmas? Do you want “Milk” and some Fruity Pebbles? How about canned pumpkin? Make a care package list. Keep up the blogging. Find some more field trips. Can’t wait for your Egypt trip. Will you go on a camel ride? Make sure you don’t participate in any protests.

  2. You win the prize. I sent a small Christmas package your way but I’ll get more stuff for you in Egypt. Sorry though. Don’t expect any terra cotta goodies. I got the last one and I really did look for one for you! Maybe I’ll go back in a few months and see what else they have. They were kind of wiped out after our group. They also had beauty products, but those were sold out as well.
    I’m not sure about Milk Bar. If it’s covetable, I need it. If you don’t think it’s worth it, forget it.

    1. I don’t know if it’s covetable. You know how I am. I have the desire to own any cookbook that has at least one good recipe. The chocolate chip cookie recipe that you sent me and the “crack pie” recipe might be worth the price of admission. What other cookbook do you want? Do you want me to send you a countertop ice cream maker and Jenni’s Splendid ice cream cookbook? What about staples like pumpkin? Where is our dad and our mom impostering our dad? Oh I know. They’ll be checking in about now.

  3. Jen, I loved the pictures and process. It looks like a very pristine operation. You should have some good eats from your fresh olive oil. Should be interesting to see if there is a noticable difference in taste. I too, am looking forward to your trip down the Nile. You are having some wonderful experiences and keeping a journal is a wonderful way to keep these memories alive.

  4. Jen, looking at all that olive oil my mouth started to water. I bet it tastes fantastic. Looks like you came away with some awesome shwag too… not too shabby! Let us know if there’s a big difference when you cook with it!

  5. Jen,
    Thanks for the informative material on Jordanian Olive oil. We love hearing from you, and enjoy so much the educational forum of your contributions.
    Can Joe and I import this Olive oil to the States? or do we have approval from Italy?
    We send you our consistent thoughts of well being to you and Raj!!!!
    Dick and Mary

  6. Jennifer,
    Your article on Olive oil at the Terra Rossa plant was fascinating! You must have had an excellent tour guide. Your pictures and descriptions of the process were great! Perhaps you could write a tourists guide to Jordan. It sounds like you and Raj are really getting around! Your blog could be the start of publishing project!! Love to you and Raj… take care.

    1. Hi Ellie,
      It’s so nice to hear from you! We’re trying to see as much as we can while we’re here. We just got back from an amazing trip to Egypt. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.
      All the best,

  7. Hi Jen,

    We are currently living in Amman and happened upon your blog. Do you remember by chance where the vineyard was located and if it was open all year? Is it a day trip from Amman?



    1. Hi Meredith,
      I don’t remember the name of the town. It was north of Amman, a stones throw away from the Syrian border. It was about a 2 hour drive, so a day trip.
      It’s definitely worth the trip.

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