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what you should know about olives and olive oil

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My 5 days in a sustainable olive farm in Greece in Kamména Vourla

On my way to Athens I have met Dimitris who got me a ride as I was hitchhiking. He owns an olive farm near Kamména Vurla. Luckily enough this is the right period for the olive harvest which takes place usually round end of October to December. It will all depend on the use you want to make of it. Oil production or brined olives. The olive tree is one of my favorite trees with its leaves pointing up the sky and its tortuous trunk. Not too mention it's jewel fruit.

olives to sort

How does permaculture and being sustainaible apply here?

Instead of growing only olive trees. Dimitris is growing on the same crop lentils and chickpeas. These are known to caption and release nitrogen into the soil which is really helpful for the olive trees. Indeed, the olive trees absorb large quantities of Nitrogen from the soil throughout the year. It is the most important and irreplaceable nutritious element for the vegetative growth and fruitation of the olive groves. The ability of the soil to retain the humudity is also crucial. Thus, having grass on the soil is also preventing water evaporation through direct exposure to the sun. The soil will not be plowed. As microorganisms live in the soil you don't want kill it since they play an important part in the soil fertility. Pits and branches are used as combustibles. the remains from the oil extract are used as fertilizers.


How to harvest the olives:

They are picked by hand or with an olive comb. Machines shaking up the tree are widely used for greater productivity but these damage the tree.

myself picking olives

And they are collected into a tarp placed under the tree.

olive net

The greener the more bitter. As the olives mature, the flavor mellows. For oil production, bare in mind that the oil content drops as the olive ripen.

olive maturity

Sorting the olives

Olives are sorted by caliber. And then we sorted the olives going for oil production and those to be brined. The olives are washed and placed into the brine (Salt and water,oil). Around 10% of salt. The brine is subject to your creativity. The last batch had orange, rosemary. The oil helps to limit the exchange of air.

Sorting olives 3

Sorting olives 2


- An olive tree produces anywhere from 30–70 kg of olives. It depends on variety, soil, weather, year

- A good oil yield accounts for about 15-20% of the total olive weight is picked at a proper time in the region.

Oil extraction:

Cold pressed to which avoids changes in the olive’s chemistry and avoids defects. Going for extra virgin olive oil. Why?

Oil is graded by its level of acidity. It indicates the extent to which fat has broken down into fatty acids. Then it can be refined or non refined. While unrefined oils are pure and untreated, refined oil is treated to remove flaws from the oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil is an unrefined oil and the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Extra-virgin olive oil is considered an unrefined oil since it's not treated with chemicals or altered by temperature. What sets it apart is the low level of oleic acid and the absence of sensory flaws. It contains no more than 1% oleic acid and typically has a golden-green color, with a distinct flavor and a light peppery finish.

Virgin olive oil has a slightly higher level of oleic acid. It also has a slightly less intense flavor than extra-virgin olive oil

Pure olive oil is a lower-quality oil than extra-virgin or virgin olive oil, with a lighter color, more neutral flavor, and oleic acid measuring between 3-4%.

barco 4

I have really had a blast during my stay and so enjoyed working with dedicated people trying to make it right and preserve the balance of nature in a beautiful environnement