Anyway, back to the blog (and I intend to write more regularly)! It is now olive picking season again we have already pressed 3 lots of olives and are on our 4th - it is a good year - we are blessed! The quality of the oil has been amazing - especially the second pressing where the olives were picked over the period of a full moon and were pressed on the Name Day of the Archangel Michael - coming out at 0.2% acidity (the best extra virgin olive oil) - this is a collectors oil and we already have many orders which is brilliant - and I will also be leaving a bottle in the Church at Assomatos for the Archangel Michael! The 3rd pressing came out at 0.25% acidity level and was pressed on the name day of St Chrysostomos (Golden- mouthed). Both the 2nd and 3rd pressing were of black ripe olives - of the conservolia variety - these can also be cured in brine to eat - but we chose to use them to make a wonderful, fruity salad oil. The first pressing came out at 0.5% (which is still pretty good) - this was because we added a lot of ha-ma-thes (ripened olives that you can eat that have fallen off the tree) - this raised the acidity level - still excellent oil though and we are using it already! We have started on the last lot of olives now - one of the oldest varieties in Greece being 3000 years in existence - Koroneiki - these are very small green through to deep purple olives, they produce more oil in general than the larger olives and the oil has a slight peppery taste - we shall see. Needless to say, in order to keep the acidity level down, every olive is literally hand picked - no machines are used of any kind, every stalk is removed from the olive as well as any leaves and any shriveled olive or over ripe olive is removed.
We pick our olives with love - we enjoy it! Some people think we are mad but it is a social event - this time we have had a few visitors (mentioning no names but thank you with all my heart) that have helped - some just for a day - some on a daily basis. There are no mobiles (mine has died and that is why there are not any pictures with this blog :( ) - we talk - we laugh - there are even sexual innuendos such as: Friend: "Where is Manos?" - Me: "He is over there on his own" - Manos has got a big one" Friend: "Really - OK I will go and look" - to which I nearly died laughing - I was talking about the olive tree he was working on of course! We have coffee - fruit - fresh bread - tomatoes - various olives - today though we only had biscuits there was no time for lunch - it was such a glorious day........the birds never stopped singing and there was a buzzard flying around above us - heaven!
We normally pick for 3 days, press the oil on the 3rd evening (which is why we remove all stalks and leaves etc. to keep the acidity level down - the longer olives are left standing the higher the acidity goes). What are we doing the rest of the time? We are busy making our other products - 60 kilos of the wonderful Kalamon (Kalamata) Olives have already been stored whole in brine and topped with extra virgin olive oil - these will be ready in approximately 8 months. We have also prepared about 100 kilos of Tsa-kis-tez - these are green olives tapped with a stone so they split (we can normally do about 250 olives per hour)- these are sweetened by changing the water they are soaking in 3 times a day for 15 days - they are then put in a light brine (we always keep our salt levels low) and again topped with extra virgin olive oil - these will be ready in about a month. I have also prepared another 30 kilos of Kalamon (Kalamata) Olives Ksy-da-tez - these are olives that have been sweetened by changing the water as above and are then put in a brine solution (low salt) for one day and then put in a vinegar solution and topped with extra virgin olive oil.
Needless to say that is not all..... Manos has also been very busy with his soap making - this year we have pure St John's Wort Soap - Rosemary Soap, Fennel Soap, Sage Soap to name but a few - lots of exciting things that will be ready around Christmas. I have also been busy making green olive pate with herbs (suitable for vegans) and black olive pate (with anchovies) which is going amazingly well...
In fact we have been making everything possible from our olives and everything we use in our soaps and foods is organic and from the Olive Branch Villa. The leaves are going to be taken by a friend for her animals and the branches, twigs and wood are all going to be chopped up and stored. Stored for what you may think - I have decided to store every single bit of wood because when I ever manage to save up enough money to buy an AGA I am going to need it!