When being in Greece I simply had to visit an olive farm. And of course it had to be one with Kalamata Olives. So I have meet Pavlos from „Ben Olive Mill“ just a few kilometers north of Kalamata town.
Almost every place in Greece I’ve been before are growing olive trees. But on Peleponnes and especially around Kalamata there has been even more of them. Pavlos, from „Ben Olive Mill“ (Parapougki 240 08) explained that there are around 14 million olive trees in Kalamata, which spend more than 25% of the annual production of olive oil in whole of Greece. And that even though Kalamata just covers 5% of the area where olive trees are growing on. The reason for that is the mild climate with lots of rain in winter and lots of sun in summer. That gives the trees enough energy to develop blossoms and therefore fruits. In summer the temperatures are so high, that borks (almost the only natural enemy of the olives) aren’t able to survive. So the olives in Kalamata can grow in peace and don’t need any chemical treatment at all. That’s why the „Ben Olive Mill“ just produces organic olive oil of the highest quality. That’s also the reason that there is no work between easter and the 15th of August. They let the olive trees do their job and don’t disturb them. But the harvest is even more stressful and they work day and night in order to achieve the best quality. They pay a lot attention to the best time for harvesting and a fast processing. Every hour counts in order to preserve the quality of the olive oil. Therefore they get picked either manually by hand (for Kalamon olives, which are the edible ones) and by spreading nets under the trees and shaking them (for those who are processed to oil). After that the latter gets quickly transported to the mill where they are first cleaned and afterwards crushed by a machine, which works like a hammer. Even the stone inside gets smashed. After that the so called pulp goes into a centrifuge where the oil is separated from the pulp and is transported via pipes into different tanks where it is waiting to get bottled and sold. The remaining pulp is pressed to pellets and used as a combustable for heatings.
Ben Olive mill produces about 120 tons of olive oil per year and only produces high quality oil – the so called extra virgin. It contains less than 0,8% acidity (which is an international restriction). To be fair – their olive oil contains just about 0,1% which makes it really mild and tasty. Therefore it already won several awards! Of course I had to try it and Pavlos didn’t just gave me the pure oil to try but bread with olives, pork stored in olive oil and some cheese. It all tasted delicious! The oil is very buttery and with a pleasant flavour, which creates a very spicy and interesting aftertaste in the throat. You can definitely notice the quality with all your senses!
After that Pavlos invited me to an unique experience and we had a picnic right in-between the olive orchards. There we sat together and enjoyed a good wine from the region and of course loads of olive oil.
Thanks for that! It made my culinary trip to Greece perfect!