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The world of olives

In Crete, the production of olive oil is still a fmily business. Almost all local families own their own olive groves with old and gnarled olive trees. Every year the world wide known Cretan olive oil is produced.

The Tree

The Tree

Olive trees can be several thousands of years old and can bear fruits yearly. They are green through out the year and their leaves shimmer silvery in the sun. These impressive trees have roots that can reach up to 6 meters into the ground to take up enough water even in dry regions. One tree bears around 20kg of olives a year, from which 3 to 4 liters of olive oil can be pressed. After the harvest, the trees are cut to carry lots of olives again in the following year.

  • 1 olive tree carries 15 – 30kg olives per year
  • with 5-6kg olives you can get 1l olive oil after extraction
  • 1 tree can give 4-5l olive oil per year
The fruit

The fruit

On Crete, we have the most hours of sunshine in Europe per year. This is why our olives ripen particularly well. On Crete, mostly the Koroneiki olives are cultivated and used for the oil production. If e.g. a cherry is infected, a hole will stay in the fruit. If an olive is infected by an insect, it has the ability to repair itself and only a scar will remain. This happens due to substances in the olive whose concentration reduces in an over ripe olive. This is why the olives are harvested when the colour of the fruit changes from green to violet/black

The harvest

The harvest

The harvest starts in November, and here on Crete, the olives are still harvested by hand. Nets are spread under the trees, the olives shaken down with a shaking-machine and transported to and pressed in the local olive press the same day. Our traditional olive oil from Kournas is even transported to one of the rare, old stone presses in Kalyves and pressed the traditional way in between stones. In this way, less oil is obtained per kg of olives but the hazy oil contains more valuable ingredients.

 

Olive oil

Greece occupies the third place in world wide olive oil production after Spain and Italy. The Cretan oil is known for its high quality, is unique in taste and has always been valued. . Der Olivenölverbrauch pro Person ist in Griechenland jedoch am höchsten. Das Olivenöl Kretas gilt als eines der qualitativ hochwertigsten Olivenöle, ist einzigartig im Geschmack und seit jeher geschätzt.

To contain 3 to 4 liters of oil, 20kg of olives are needed. Most farmers take their olives to the local olive press of their region where the olives are „cold pressed“. Actually they are not pressed, they are chopped into pieces including their stones. Afterwards the oil is removed from the cells and separated from fruit pulp and water. The oil is not filtered, which keeps all the healthy ingredients. The chemical analysis of the oil in our cooperative in Maza confirms the high quality of the oil: Without chemicals and extra virgin.

In the traditional stone press more kg of olives are needed to press one litre of oil but more valuable ingredients are kept.
The European Commission set the following parameters to reach the highest olive oil class „extra virgin“: cold pressed, maximum 0,8g free fatty acids per 100g oil, heatable up to 180°C. A low content of free fatty acids is desired as they create a bitter and acidic taste (www.herzstiftung.de).

The health

A mediterranean diet with many fruits, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil with approximately 70% monounsaturated fatty acids has been prooven to protect against vascular diseases (consequence heart attack and stroke) as well as rheumatism and cancer. The natural bitter tasting compounds in the olive oil are appetizers and stimulate the digestion. Additionally, extra virgin olive oil has a positive impact on our cholesterol level: the level of the unwanted LDL-cholesterol is reduced and the wanted HDL-cholesterol is increased. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants which protect our cells from free radicals, which is positive for cancer and early aging prevention.
Source: www.herzstiftung.de and http://www.diabetes-informationszentrum.de/tipps-fuer-den-alltag/kraft-der-olive.html

(Quelle: Herzstiftung, Diabetes Informationszentrum)

Researchers of the university of Porto in Portugal solved the mystery: The effective antioxidant DHPEA-EDA, which is particularly rich in extra virgin olive oil, protects our red blood cells efficiently against oxidative stress (free radicals).
Source: University of Porto in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200447.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200447.htm
(Quelle: Universität Porto in der Zeitschrift Molecular Nutrition & Food Research)

 

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