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Anna Cominos

52 weeks in the Homeland - Olive oil pressing

More news from olive-centre of the planet, Stavli (5kms west/north from Potamos).Picking the oily little jewels is not enough once the olives are bagged, they go off to be processed at the olive press.

Each coffee sack full of olives(@50kgs is 2 mouzouria) are weighed and the mizouria counted, Then the bags are emptied into the petra (stone) were a washing/sorting process happens and the olive leaves, twigs and debris are washed away.

The olives then go into the barrels were they are slowly turned into pulp and it this from this pulp that the olive oil is distilled. It is common practice for the olives to be processed to oil at around 40c (this makes the oil acidic and has to sit for months to take the bitter tone)

We (Tzimmy the goatboy and I) processed our olives at 20c, which is the recommended temp for cold-pressing. This shrinks the yield but makes for
the highest quality olive oil that you can put on your salads immediately.

Then comes the 'deal' when the ergostarhis (olive press guy) does the arithmetic on what oil your olives yielded. There are 2 types of olive press companies on Kythera.

There are 2 Growers Collective, one in Livadi and one in Potamos and there are 2 privately owned presses, Savvonikos in Kondolianika and Gavrilys in Livadi on the corner as you turn for Hora.

While quality in production varies,they are all the same in what they % they take as there 'dekeoma' (royalty for production). A straight 12% is the typical royalty and if the cart the olives it is 15%. On 200kg of oil (which is roughly a 1000kg of olives) that can be as much as 25 kilos of oil. You then have the choice of leaving that with the press and paying nothing or buying the 'dekeoma' at 4 euros a kilo.

Considering that much of Greece's serious olive districts in the Peloponnese got burnt to a cinder, I have been buying the dekoama and selling it on direct to consumers. It's all new to me and the figures fly around fast.

The weather today is a glorious sun-soaked winter's day. Children and old folks are sitting in the sun with the trousers rolled to the knees-lapping up the sun. We are half-way through our oilves and looks as though we will be picking to Christmas, but it beats being in an office checking my facebook page.

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