Olives

Nature’s precious gift

One of the most significant Greek products, well known and appreciated all over the world. Technically classified as fruits of the Olea europea tree, an amazing tree that typically lives for hundreds of years,  we commonly think about olives not as fruit but as a vegetable.

While some olives can be eaten right off of the tree, most olives sold commercially have been processed to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. Water curing, brine curing, and lye curing are the most common treatment processes for olives.

The color of the olives denotes the time of the harvesting season during which they were picked. The greenest olives are harvested in October, the red or pink in November, the black in December, and the wrinkled black (not to be confused with olives that have shriveled due to curing in salt) in January.

Olives are a remarkable source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In addition, olives are a very good source of monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid) and a good source of iron, copper, and dietary fiber. Recent research studies have shown that the monounsaturated fat found in olives (and olive oil) can help lower the risk of heart disease as well as to decrease blood pressure.

Olives have been cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean for at least 5,000 years. According to the archaic Athenian foundation myth, goddess Athena won the patronship of Attica from Poseidon with the gift of the olive tree to its residents.

Greek olives are harvested from October to January, but are available year round to make a zesty addition to salads, meat and poultry dishes, pizza, even a glass of martini.

Greek olives under PDO and PGI status

Olive of Kalamata PDO

Konservolia of Amfissa PDO

Konservolia of Arta PGI

Konservolia of Atalanti PDO

Konservolia of Rovies PDO

Konservolia of Stilida PDO

Throumpa of Thassos PDO

Throumpa of Chios PDO

Throumpa of Ampadia Rethimno Crete PDO

Konservolia of Pilio Volou PDO

Green olive of Chalkidiki PDO

MLGFB Tip:

How to make your own sweet & sour olive spread to accompany white, greek cheeses or rusks

Ingredients: 3 cups of coreless olives, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 lemon, 1 apple, 1/3 cup of honey

Preparation:

  • Wash the olives, put them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Put the pot in the fire and as soon as the water bubbles, leave it for 2 more minutes and then drain the water. Repeat the same procedure for 3 more times
  • Once you’ve boiled the olives three times, drain the water and let them cool down
  • Wash the lemon and cut it in four pieces without peeling its skin
  • Mix in a pot the sugar with 1 1/2 cups of water, add the lemon and boil the syrup for about 6-7 minutes. Press the lemon pieces to take the most of their juice and then strain the syrup.
  • Cut the apple in small pieces
  • Take a clean pot and put the syrup, the olives, the chopped apple and the honey
  • Boil in low to medium fire for about 15 minutes, until the mixture begins to congeal
  • Use a mixer to refine the spread
  • Store it in a jar in the fridge

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