We Have Awesome Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

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measuring cup with greek extra virgin olive oil

As some of you may know, at the end of November, we spent a weekend up in Exarchos, Central Greece, to help with the olive harvest – olives that were to be pressed into olive oil. We were not there for the entire harvesting – but even the hours we did spend were hard work; lots of walking on steep slopes, climbing trees at times, and gathering olives from the ground and putting into crates that I would later hand carry to the old Mitsubishi pickup truck.

The weather turned rainy the next day, and we could not stay longer, but Mr. and Mrs. Iordanou stayed for several more days to complete the work, while also hiring a couple of people to help.

All in all, if I recall correctly, the harvest from their olive groves turned out to be about 1.2 metric tonnes which yielded around 220 litres of olive oil (I may be corrected later on this number – sometimes it is difficult to get things precisely correct when dealing with translations from Greek to English).

Yesterday was the first opportunity to sample this year’s oil.

This year’s oil was simply incredible!

While I don’t mind sipping olive oil and sampling it directly, my companion cannot do that and must soak a piece of bread or something with the oil to taste it. But I could easily drink a cup of olive oil; especially when it has those wonderful strong grassy peppery notes. And does this oil ever have remarkable taste in that regard.

The colour and aroma of the oil is also very good, and I am looking forward to all the olive oil I can get, every day.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

One of the great things about having your own olive groves is that you absolutely know the oil is not being diluted with something else, as has been scandalized more than a few times with olive oils that have been imported from Europe to North America. It’s been well known that some major North American importers have charged a premium price for Greek and Italian olive oil because the reputation of high-quality and due to the hours and hours of manual labour that goes into harvesting the olives. But then, they will dilute with other oils, while claiming they’re selling a pure Extra-Virgin oil.

So what is Extra-Virgin olive oil, anyway?

It comes down to the acidity content. The lower, the better. According to the Olive Wellness Institute,

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the highest grade of Olive oil. It is a natural olive oil that has a free acidity, expressed as free oleic acid, of no more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and no sensory defects. As a result of its high quality and minimal processing, EVOO is high in natural antioxidants, Vitamin E and phytosterols from the olive fruit and free of artificial trans fats that can be produced during refining.

Our olive oil tested at at 0.3! Which of course, is terrific!

Just to ensure no confusion, this is not olive oil pressed from olives from my small personal olive grove – the brutal winter in Central Greece caused some serious damage to my trees. Most of them recovered but not enough to produce olives this year. We did manage to collect a couple of kilograms of olives though, that I am turning into table olives.

Bottling The Oil

I didn’t get a chance to see how the olives are pressed as we could not stay in Exarchos for that. But when they are pressed, the resulting oil is packed into containers that seem to be about 24 or 25 litres. Not handy for easy kitchen and cooking use, but very handy for transporting. Today, I divided up some of the oil into smaller bottles, and we’ll use those while keeping the larger container in a dark cupboard, away from light.

two bottles of greek extra virgin olive oil

This evening will be great with this fresh awesome extra virgin olive drizzled over salad and feta cheese!

4 thoughts on “We Have Awesome Extra Virgin Olive Oil!”

  1. Our Italian destiny

    Wonderful, isn’t it? We got about 25-30 liters from our trees but they were recently pruned heavily so the harvest is reflective of that. Through helping a neighbor i was able to obtain an additional 50 liters that i might try to sell, it’s just a product that is on a completely different level.

    1. Hey Stijn!

      How curious – I was thinking of getting in touch with you to find out how you made out this autumn, and how things are going! Then I saw the email notification of a comment here 🙂 Thank you! Congrats on your first olive oil production!

      Indeed, a completely different level! So tasty, so good for you, and just terrific to have this amazing oil that I’ve helped produce.

      Generally, as far as I am learning, olive trees produce well every second year – but they can also produce two years in a row with the right circumstances. I’m sure you’ve had a chance to talk to some of the locals there – what are you expecting/hoping for next year?

      My little grove has recovered from the disaster of last year’s brutal winter – one or two trees out of the 65 might need to be removed – so next year will be interesting. Crossing fingers winter won’t be as brutal this year. Considering everything, it was nice to pick a couple of kg of olives that I’m making into table olives. That process is almost done.

      1. Our Italian Destiny

        We have certainly been able to talk to locals about it, our neighbor has 600 trees so I consider him to be my personal mentor on the olive tree care and harvest. 🙂

        For the upcoming year I am hoping for a bumper crop, we’ve gotten a decent amount of moisture this winter which will certainly help. We may also cheat a little and irrigate the trees during the flowering phase to ensure maximum fruiting.

        With a little luck we might be able to get 40 liters of oil next summer, I certainly plan to harvest on the later end of the season to ensure a bit more yield. It’s slighly less fragrant but the yield difference is significant.

        Losing just 2 out of 65 trees is excellent, surely the cleanup work you’ve done on your grove will make them more resistant to future extreme weather circumstances as well.

        1. Great to hear from you again! Wow – 600 trees – you are lucky to have such an experienced neighbor, and it’s fantastic he’s willing to mentor you.

          My biggest problem is the distance – living two hours away from the olive grove. I wish it was closer, but on the other hand, there’s always a wee road trip to look forward to. I am hoping I might be able to take a drive up there in the next couple of weeks to see how things are. One thing for sure though – it has been a milder winter than last year. It was exactly this time last year when the cold and snow really bit into Greece, with the big major snow storm that crippled Athens for days. This year, I still have tomatoes ripening up in the garden!

          We have had some cool spells when it’s gotten down to 6C at night, but nothing like last year.

          Good to read that the weather conditions you’ve had thus far are all positive toward a bumper crop. I will cross fingers for you that this continues and you get your 40 or more litres this year. And I hope to see some olive production on my trees as well especially after the care and attention they’ve had along with a milder winter.

          What are you doing through the winter there? I should go check out your Youtube channel for updates, but are you doing any other winter gardening?

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