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Iliada Kalamata Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil 750ml

Iliada Kalamata Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil 750ml
  Iliada Green Olives in Olive Oil

Iliada Green Olives in Olive Oil
Faros Natural Traditional Olive Oil Soap 200g

Faros Natural Traditional Olive Oil Soap

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Olive Oil

This evergreen tree (Olea europaea) with its lance-shaped leaves and their shimmering silvery-white undersides is an oft-described emblem of Greece. The foliage is replaced in a two-year cycle. In June, small, creamy white flowers open on its branches. If successfully pollinated by the wind in the last quarter of the year, or even in January depending on the variety, it ripens to produce blue-black fruits. This undemanding tree thrives on poor, limy soils, can survive with only 8 inches (200 millimeters) of rain a year, and copes with temperatures ranging from as low as 54 F (12 C) during the flowering season up to 104 F (40 C) as the fruit ripens. It produces its first crop after about eight years, being most productive after between 60 and 100 years. It is calculated that during this period, each tree produces an average of 132 pounds (60 kilograms) every year, with years of bountiful harvests alternating with those of lower yields. Nowadays, this natural cycle is controlled by specific pruning of the branches to produce more even yields. The best varieties of olives cultivated on Crete are koroneiki (Olea europaea var. Mastoides), throumbolia (Olea europaea var. Media oblonga), and tsounati (Olea europaea var. Mamilaris). Koroneiki is far and away more resistant than the common olive tree, and thrives at altitudes of over 1500 feet (500 meters). Its fruits are rather small, but all the more aromatic for that. Throumbolia has been cultivated for longer than the koroneiki on Crete, but has now been replaced by the latter in many regions.  It grows at altitudes of up to 2100 feet (700 meters), and its olives produce a mild oil, well-balanced in terms of flavor.  Tsounati can withstand greater fluctuations in temperature, and its fruits also guarantee production of a high-quality oil. An olive tree can live for several hundred years. With the passing of time, the wood inside the trunk dies away, until finally the trunk is hollow and takes on an oddly perforated appearance.
People were obviously aware of the value of the olive tree from very early on. According to mythology, when both Athena and Poseidon wanted to assume the patronage of Athens, the Olympian gods were swayed by an olive branch. When both candidates were asked to present the city with a gift representing something most useful, the divine jurors found Athena's olive tree won hands down over Poseidon's saltwater spring.
The great significance of olive trees in antiquity is borne out by the fact that adversaries in armed conflict made a point of zealously uprooting as many of their opponents' trees as possible. Even though they do not produce any actual food - in the strict sense, only grains, pulses, and meat count as food - such destruction deprived all classes of the population for many years, not only of a readily available, year-round, valuable food supplement, but also of medications, various body care preparations, and fuel. Furthermore, olive trees lent their owners increased status, and thus the purposeful, systematic destruction of their property also had a psychological effect.

Ninety-five-thousand families cultivate 30 million Cretan olive trees. Cretan olive growing thus accounts for 30 percent of total Greek production, ahead of the Peloponnese with 26 percent. Cretan olive oil is the only one to have a protected mark of origin, comparable to the French Appellation d'Origine Controlee. Since 1993, olive oil has also been produced organically on Crete, and is thus subject to strict conditions with regard to the planting distances and the use of fertilizers and pesticides, among other things. The oil from organically and traditionally cultivated olives is also subjected to ongoing intensive quality control procedures. The critical quality criteria for olive oil include taste and odor classifications. Similar to wine, these depend on the variety, cultivation area, and vintage, and also on the care taken when harvesting and processing the olives.

The Olive Museum of Kapsaliana keeps alive the hard daily life of the olive tree farmerns.

  Again, like wine, these properties are subjected to a sensory test. Whereas in the past it was thought that the crop would produce the best quality oil when fully ripe (from October to January, depending on the variety and cultivation area), it is now picked just prior to that, when the oil content of the fruits has already reached its peak. This slightly pre-ripe stage gives the finished oil the ability to keep for a long time, provided it is correctly stored. The olives should be harvested swiftly and reach the nearest oil mill without any further loss of time.
The following processes have essentially remained almost unchanged for thousands of years. Millstone wheels grind the olive and their stones into a pulp, which is then piled onto filters in thin layers and pressed with increasing pressure. Finally the oil is separated from the water. Visitors to the Cretan Olive Museum at Kapsaliana can still admire numerous historical devices from the 19th century. Since then, mechanical mills have dispensed with the horses and donkeys; hydraulics has replaced manpower at the screw press, and is being superceded in its turn by centrifugal force.
excerpts from: "Culinaria Greece"

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