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Greek Olive Oil

Greece has been producing olive oil for well over 50,000 years. The country devotes about 60 percent of its arable land to grow olives. Its large-scale cultivation of olives dates back to the Neolithic times. Today, Greece is among the top producers of olive oil and is actually ranked third in the world. It boasts of having 16 distinct PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) types of olive oil. The country has deep ties with the olive tree and produces some of the finest olive oils in the world. In this article, we take a quick look at the greek olive oil and present some of the interesting statistics that you may need to know.

Varieties of Greek olive oil

Most of the olive oils in the world originate from the Mediterranean region. The complex nature of the olive tree means that there are many varieties of olives that one can encounter. Most of these varieties can be identified easily based on their color, composition, and size.

The Greek olives can be classified in the following categories:

  1. Koroneiki: This is the botanical name of the unique type of greek olives known as Kalamata. It generates one of the finest olive oil on the planet. Its olives are usually picked while they are still green. Koroneiki is mostly grown in the areas of Crete and south Peloponnese. It produces a golden-green olive oil which is known for its fresh and fruity flavor.
  2. Athenolia: The Athinolia olive variety matures slowly and is usually harvested between December and January. Its olive fruits are oval in shape, medium in size and weighs between 2.2 to 2.9 grams. They can be mixed with Koroneiki variety to generate a full-body extra virgin oil that has a balanced and complex fruity flavor.
  3. Black olives: This is a typical Greek olive that is allowed to ripen fully while on the tree before it can be harvested. The de-bittering process for these olives lacks lye hence giving them distinguishing characteristics. They are either purple, deep black, or red-violet-black in colour and have a slightly fruity and fresh taste.
  4. Green olives: These olives come from the Chondrolia varieties that are grown in the Chalkidiki region of Northern Greece. They are bright green-yellow in colour and tastes slightly bitter. It has large sized berries that are mostly harvested between mid-September and mid-October.
  5. Kalamata olives: This variety is named after Kalamata city which is located in Messenia, southern Greece. Its almond-shaped and has a rich aubergine color while its texture is smooth and meaty. They are usually harvested once they are fully ripe so as to preserve their sensitive skin. They are then cured before being immersed in wine vinegar and olive oil. They have a characteristic sweetness and light fruity flavour.
  6. Chalkidiki olives: This variety is exclusively grown in Greece in the region neighbouring Mount Athos. They are also referred to as donkey olives due to their large size.

Some statistics about Greek olive oil

Extra virgin is the country’s topmost grade olive oil and it has an excellent aroma, taste, and quality. In fact 80 percent of the olive oil production in Greece is extra virgin quality. The acidity levels in extra virgin oil are less than 0.8 percent. Greece produces some of the best olive oils on the market with low acidity levels

Virgin oil has a similar aroma and taste but its quality is slightly lower. Its acidity levels are less mild and can rise up to 2 percent.

Crete olive oil, for instance, has acidity levels as low as 0.02 percent. Such an oil should not be used for cooking but best consumed raw with salads and cheeses.

The two regions that produce the best olive oils in Greece are Crete and Kalamata.

Crete island has a mix of wonderful layout, great weather, rich soils and an ideal geographical location that supports the growth of small greenish looking olives. Olives have been growing on the island for over 3500 years. Research has shown that people of Crete enjoy some of the lowest risks of the heart disease and the longest life spans in the world due to their diet based around olive oil.

The Kalamata is a beautiful region and one of the hidden gem in Greece. Its olives are quite popular and arguably the best in the world.

In terms of consumption, the Greeks are known to consume more olive oil per person in the world. They are then followed by the Italians would consume the second most in the world..

The Greeks have used these oils for many years and in various ways. It is among the most important elements of its agricultural sector. An olive plantation is a long-term investment and it can take up to 20 years to mature. The good thing is that harvests can be done on a yearly basis once the tree has started producing fruits.

The major markets for the Greek olive oil include the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia, and United States. China also provides a large market for this oil with a consumption of about 20 million tons.