Are all olive varieties good for making olive oil?
In a quaint, azure and white restaurant, the waiter loads the table with delectable mezethes; you are overwhelmed by heavenly aromas unique to Greece. The olives are plump and succulent; the olive oil glitters golden-green in the sunshine…
Have you ever considered whether the olives we eat are the same olives used to create olive oil?
No, not always! Some olives are grown to be eaten while others are solely produced for their oil.
Take the Kalamata olive. One of the finest products of the country, this power-house of flavour is grown in the south of Greece on the exquisite Pelopennese coast. This sun-drenched Mediterranean area is home to endless fields of Kalamon trees with their enormous leaves and wine-coloured olives. Interestingly, there is no green variety of Kalamata: they are harvested (often as late as December) only when ripe and always by hand. The love and care invested in the harvesting is echoed in the nurturing of the trees and fruit: the final result is sublime olive perfection.
Reach into your meze bowl and eat a Kalamata olive. You will be struck by its rich, purple hue; delicious, succulent flesh; distinctive lack of acidity; and delicate, tantalising flavour.
Kalamata olives are cultivated to be eaten and are a fantastic addition to salads, tapenades, pizzas, sauces, breads and stews but no…they are not the olives which feature in the ambrosial oil of the region.
For as many as 3000 years, Koroneiki olives have been cultivated for their oil, to the west of the Peloponnese, cosseted between the Messinia valley and the Ionian Sea. Much smaller than the Kalamata, the Koroneiki olive is harvested when it is green and firm to be pressed into a magnificent, piquant oil which has truly earned its position as one of the world’s premium products. The harvest from individual trees is humble which explains the hillsides bursting with trees. Once these green gems are picked, they are pressed within twenty-four hours to produce the purity and magic of Koroneiki olive oil.
Now dip your crusty pita into the bowl of Koroneiki oil: luxuriant, aromatic, intense: it is a flavour you will never forget.
Whether you prefer olives or their oil; you can be certain that they are a wholesome, nutritional addition to your diet, bursting with flavour and a multitude of health benefits.