Cretan Olive Oil

 
Greece is the world’s third largest producer of olive oil, but first in the production of high quality extra virgin olive oil. Half of the country’s olive oil comes from the island of Crete, home to over 30 million olive trees, some of which are more than a thousand years old. The Cretans themselves have been cultivating olive trees since at least 3,500 BC and its famous Minoan palace of Knossos houses one of the only ancient olive press rooms discovered to date.

Crete’s propensity to successfully cultivate olive trees is the result of a combination of the island’s climatic conditions and topographical traits, together with its upholding of the traditional harvesting and extraction techniques. The olive tree shows a clear preference for areas which combine calcareous soils with mineral-rich sea breeze. In addition the methodology its farmers use to extract the oil from the fruit is still as pure and natural as it was some millennia ago. Olives continue to be hand harvested. As the farmers gently tap the trees’ barks with their wooden sticks, protective netting is used to collect the falling olives. Prolonged contact with the ground which would otherwise initiate an increase in the olive fruit’s acidity levels is thus avoided. Each day’s harvest is swiftly transferred to the mills which wash, clean and remove any accompanying leaves and twigs so as to commence the cold pressing extraction process within the same day from harvesting. Timing is key to the process, one step swiftly following the next, leaving no opportunity for any of the natural goodness to disappear.