Olive Oil: Learning About Olives in Greece

 

Not far from Chania, among the mountains of northern Crete, there’s a huge extension of olive trees in the Protected Denomination of Origin area of Kolymbari. The weather conditions of the island and the microclimate of Kolymbari give life to a top environment for harvesting the highest quality olive crops. Did you know that about 5 % of the World’s olive oil comes from Crete?

 

Cretan Olive Oil Production. Kolymbari. A visit to a factory with the family
The kids checking olives right from the trees.

 

A FAMILY VISIT TO A FAMILY FACTORY

Right in the heart of Kolymbari, and for over five generations, the Dimitriadis family specializes in estate-produced, stone-milled and cold-pressed organic olive oil.

They achieve excellence by combining all the benefits of the traditional methods for oil extraction in full respect of the environment. Their company, Biolea, is one of the very few dedicated to this slow method to produce extra virgin olive oil. The impressive traditional stone mill, still in use, fascinated our children.

 

Cretan Olive Oil Production. Kolymbari.
Traditional mill.

 

SIMPLE TRADITIONS

Their 3000 olive trees belong to a specific variety, Koroneiki. This small Cretan olive is very resistant to the island’s rough soil and drought weather. Biolea produces a reduced amount of olive oil (about 20.000 liters per year – industrialized companies produce over 300.000 liters), a choice that allows keeping high standards. Their oil is extra virgin, young and fresh. They extract it with a cold press and don’t filter it. A simple method, close to ancient traditions: a winning recipe for a genuine result. 

 

EXPLOSION OF TASTE

In Kolymbari, Crete, an ideal environment gives life to top quality olive crops and excellent extra virgin olive oil. Learn about olives in Greece.
Tasting the freshness of LemoniO.

During our oil-tasting session, Chloè, the youngest in the family, introduced us to new tastes.

In fact, they don’t only produce an incredibly tasty, mild and sweet, extra virgin olive oil.

There are also two fascinating surprises…

LemoniO and NerantziO.

 

 

 

LemoniO is an aromatic olive oil that Biolea produces cold-pressing Koroneiki olives with whole fresh lemons in the stone mill. A fabulous oil that explodes with an intense lemon zest aroma and a lasting aftertaste of freshly crushed lemons.

NerantziO is made by adding whole fresh bitter oranges which release an exotic punch of orange blossom and a teasing touch of orange skin.

 

In Kolymbari, Crete, an ideal environment gives life to top quality olive crops and excellent extra virgin olive oil. Learn about olives in Greece.
Koroneiki Olives.

BEFORE YOU GO… Do you know how to recognize top-quality olive oil?

The first word to look for on the label is VIRGIN. Definitions as “pure olive oil”, “white olive oil”, “good olive oil” are simply blends.

The second word to find is EXTRA and it has to do with acidity. A level between 0,0 and 0,8 % qualifies the oil as extra virgin.

But careful! Having a label that reads Extra Virgin is not enough! These two words, even if important, don’t account for harvest date: olive oil is at its best in the first two years of its harvest.

“Extra Virgin” does not account for heat either. Cold pressing must be done under 27 Β°C so the oil still maintains all its qualities.

A step beyond is the distinction between cold press and cold extraction. Modern systems process olives through cold extraction using a chopper. This needs high quantities of water reducing the final quality. On the other hand, a cold press manages to separate the olive from its skin much better than a chopper, producing olive oil that tastes sweeter, milder and almost buttery.

Finally, look at the origin. If olives come from Protected Designation Origin Areas chances are your oil is top class.

To visit Biolea get in touch through their website.

PIN FOR LATER

Cretan olive oil produced in Kolymbari by Biolea.

 

40 thoughts on “Olive Oil: Learning About Olives in Greece”

  1. Such an interesting article about the Greek olive oil! It definitely makes a dish or especially a salad much better. I haven’t heard of this company but will keep an eye. I had to make my own research and read about the different types of olive oil when I go shopping. But it is great that you’ve explained it to people for easier shopping experience and getting the best product.

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  2. This would have been such a neat experience unique to Greece! I would love to taste all the flavors. I had no idea what extra virgin meant, neat to know!

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    • Thanks for your comment. I am really glad this post makes the olive oil landscape a bit clearer for the consumer. Thanks a lot!!

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  3. Oh! As a mediterranean, nothing better than olive oil! And Creta seems a perfect place to learn about it πŸ˜‰ i found it a nice family activity. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Esther. We are so blessed in the Mediterranean with our food… we sometimes forget how valuable that is.

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  4. This must have been an awesome experience. I am saying this not only because of the scenic location but because of the sheer antiquity of the cvilization in these regiions. And Olive of course was an integral part of the same.

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    • Exactly, the region… all the island is so rich in traditions (also culinary ancient traditions), as well as history and archaeological sites (over a hundred), you’ve got to be very careful when planning if you want to have a good picture of it. Thanks for leaving your comment!!

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  5. For someone who’s not a fan of cooking or anything related to food (but eating), I find this interesting. I didn’t know there was a lot about Olive oil. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the informative post, made me suddenly conscious of what I eat, haha.

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    • I have come to stop enjoying cooking as well… Still I (like you) enjoy eating, mostly when flavors are genuine and authentic, and with Cretan olive oil this was the case. I enjoyed the visit, but I don’t have big plans for lots of cooking either πŸ™‚

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  6. Olive oil actually makes an important ingredient into our cooking and it is really great to learn about its processing and traditional methods. It was interesting to know that there are different varieties and flavors too. Thanks for your tips on recognizing quality olive oil.

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  7. I stay up on the kitchen during wekeends when not traveling or writing. And I used to cook with olive oil and now you just gave me a lot of information I should have known from the beginning. Before, I thought having ‘Extra’ on the label means it went more processing as the usual. Had a good read, thanks!

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    • Yes… it’s funny to learn than the “more extra” it reads, the less processed it’s going to be. Glad you liked it πŸ™‚

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  8. Learned so much on this post. Not only that it’s entertaining, the way the descriptions were given is easy to grasp. Couldn’t help but think how the varieties of plants go well with each other.

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  9. So interesting! I’m a new reader and think its so great the experiences you are sharing with your children. I only wish my parents had done the same thing! Looking forward to clicking around your site some more! Safe travels!

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    • The thing I love the most about this kind of trips with the kids is that, at the end of the trip, these are the experiences they tend to label as “my favorite part was…” πŸ˜€

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  10. WHoa, I didn’t know there is really much to learn about Olive oil. I like how the family-run business still continues with slow method of producing their Cretan olive oil. I would like to try the ones with lemons as well. To cap it off, thank you for giving us tips on how to recognize and buy good quality extra virgin olive oil. Now I know what to get next!

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    • It was really my pleasure to write about this visit, it was a fun visit for all the family.
      And… the quality was indeed superb πŸ™‚
      Thanks for the comment!

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  11. I am trying to imagine how it will taste. Here were get couple of varieties of olive oil but never have I seen the LemoniO. Definitely must be tangy and should go well with warm toasts.

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  12. This is a very interesting and informative article. Loved reading about Olives the nuances of oil production. I would love to taste the LemoniO.

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  13. What a lovely day out with your kids. Its important they learn about how food is processed and made. We tend to avoid oil, but now I want lemonio on my hummos! Thank you for the tips on how to pick an olive oil.

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    • What a great idea, I believe lemonio on hummus must be heavenly!! Thanks for your nice comment πŸ™‚

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  14. Very interesting read! I only use olive oil in the kitchen but to this point I had no idea there are other important aspects beyond “extra” & “virgin” I should look into. It is sad to see mass production is slowly taking over small, family businesses everywhere in the world, yet great to see companies who focus on quality of their products over quantity. Thank you for sharing this post with us! πŸ™‚

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    • It’s true, mass production is making us disregard quality and is taking over family business. It’s good at least to be aware of what we buy so that we can make informed decisions. Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

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  15. Nice- One thing in that part of the world is the food. Fresh and just an awesome place for a clean and healthy meal. I need to go more often on Greek diet. Thanks for the tip on olive oil. Many Americans need to learn about that kind of stuff. Cheers.

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  16. As someone who has been to this part of the world and also fancy myself a (budding) chef, this looked like a super-interesting tour. The smells must have been incredible and it’s always a great party-piece when someone can recognize good olive oil! It’s also nice when a place keeps up the old traditions of production. Enjoyable post!

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  17. Nice one, you made me especially curious about LemoniO, I just wrote them to see if there is a way to buy it from Italy!
    We have a big tradition too in oil making, also in my area, but sometimes when traditions are too deeply-rooted, it seems like there’s no room for experimentation… That’s why I’d really like to try LemoniO and NarantziO! πŸ˜€

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    • Try to contact Chloe, she’s very approachable and nice. Lemonio won’t disappoint you πŸ˜‰
      If you can’t get it now, I might be able to send you a bottle once I’m back there by the end of the year πŸ˜€

      Reply

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