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Olive oil

by Anna Votsi

The olive tree, a symbol of peace and prosperity, as well as resurrection, strength, resistance and hope, important in the whole Mediterranean area, has served the Greek population as a source of food and oil for centuries.

This sacred element when offered to Gods was deemed by Homer the “liquid gold” and by Hippocrates as the “great therapeutic.”

With abundance of sunshine, excellent soil condition, gentle sea breezes and a temperate climate Greece offers the ideal conditions for cultivating this mythological tree.

The production of olive oil is one of the basic activities for the local rural economy in Kefalonia, and one billion olive trees grow on the island and some of them grow in extraordinary positions, such as the ones you can admire at Fokí beach, situated just a few meters from the sea water.
Koronéiki and Theiakó are the two main varieties cultivated followed by a smaller number of Ntópia and Matólia. At present 13 olive presses function on the island.
Three kinds of olive oil are produced, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO), Virgin Olive Oil and Olive Oil.

Virgin oils are obtained through a mechanical cold extraction process that should not overpass  27 degrees. The olives are subjected to washing, stripping from the leaves, milling, centrifugation and eventually filtration. They are not subjected to treatments by using solvents or other chemical processes while olive oil is obtained from a mixture consisting of a refined oil (obtained with the addition of chemicals) and a virgin oil. The main difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is found in the organoleptic qualities and in the percentage of acidity, which is expressed in Oleic acid. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the most healthy tasteful and aromatic oil, its acidity level must not exceed the 0.8 grams per 100 grams, for virgin olive oil, the acidity can reach a maximum of 2 grams per 100 grams. In the case of olive oil, the acidity, must not exceed 1 gram per 100 grams. Although the acidity of olive oil is lower than that of virgin olive oil, this type of oil is considered of inferior quality because it is chemically treated and is not a pure olive oil. Fortunately there are still a lot of holdings that are harvested on a small scale which it means that they are harvested by traditional farmers methods and not by industrial ones, that are more invasive towards the environment and biodiversity.

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