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Greek Olives

Greece produces the best olives in the world.

Greek Olives are an important part of Greek cuisine and Greek culture.
No meal in most parts of Greece is complete without a bowlful of olives, and there are dozens of ways to cure them.
Olives are found in Greek salad and in countless other Greek dishes.
The Greek town of Kalamata is home to the best olive type in the world, the 'Kalamata Olives' or 'Calamon Olives'.
Other important types and known worldwide Greek olives are the 'Black Olives' and the 'Green Olives'.
The Greek olives comprise one of the most basic materials of the famous Mediterranean Diet and are exported throughout the world.

Greek Table Olives - A gift from the Greek Nature

Table olives are defined by the Unified Qualitative Standard Applying to Table Olives in International Trade as : "the sound fruits of specific varieties of the cultivated olive tree (Olea Europea Sativa) harvested at the proper stage of ripeness and whose quality is such that, when they are suitably processed, produce an edible product and ensure its good preservation as marketable goods. Such processing may include the addition of various products or spices of good table quality" (International Olive Council, 1980).

Today, Greece is the world's third largest producer of table olives, producing approximately 10% of the world's total production or an average of 80.000-90.000 tons yearly.

The three main varieties used for table olives in Greece are :

1) CONSERVOLEA

This variety is the most important economically, being responsible for at least 50% of table olive production in Greece. It grows throughout the country from sea level up to altitudes of 600 meters.

Fruits are round to oval-shaped, have a thin, elastic and resistant to shriveling skin and the pulp has a fine, consistent texture. According to the degree of maturity and time of harvesting they may be :

a) Green olives most usually producing Spanish-style green olives.
b) Blond olives with blond, reddish-black color.
c) Black olives with violet black, deep violet black color. Both Black and Blond olives are placed directly in brine, keep a fruity flavor and preserved by natural fermentation.

2) CALAMATA

This excellent quality variety derives its name from the area it was originally grown, principally in the region surrounding the town of Calamata in the south-west Peloponnese. It is the second most importand variety used in the production of Greek table olives accounting for about 15-25% of total production and nowadays good Calamata olives groves have been established in many areas of Central Greece.

Fruits are cylindro-conical, curved, showing a prominent tip at the end. They turn a beautifull black color when reaching maturity and gain their special organoleptic characteristics from their high oil content. Calamata olives are processed like the Black olives. Their skin is thin, elastic and has an intense black color when mature, but still retains a good texture. Usually they are incised lenghtwise by cutting into the skin and part of the flesh and then marinated in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

3) CHALKIDIKI

This is the third most important variety used in the production of Greek table olives, accounting for about 10-20% of total production. It is mainly cultivated in the Chalkidiki region of nothern Greece. Fruits are larger than Conservolea variety averaging to 120-140 olives/kg; they are more elongated, with a prominent tip at the bottom; the pit is slightly curved and the flesh has a good texture. They are used mainly for Spanish style green olives in brine.

Other smaller varieties of olives used as table olives in Greece are :

1. MEGARITIKI (of Nafplion).

This is grown in the Attica region. It is a dual use variety (table olives and oil extraction) with fruits medium to small size (260-400 olives/kg).
It is resistant to drought and it is used mainly for untreated (natural) green olives and also in the production of naturally (wrinkled) black olives in salt.

2. THRUBOLEA (of Thasos)

This is a grown mainly in the island of Thasos but also in Crete and some Aegean islands. It is a dual use variety with fruits medium to small size, cylindroconical, curved, showing a small tip at the end. When completely mature, fruits are deep violet black and are used to prepare a special type of "naturally (wrinkled) black olives Thruba style". These olives are treated immediately in alternating layers of dry salt and gain their special organoleptic characteristics from the high oil content.

Nutritional Aspects of Greek Olives

A healthy choice that's always in good taste

For thousands of years, Greek olives have been a basic component of the Mediterranean diet. The Greeks are faithful to tradition and attracted to light, fresh nourishing food. They love olives which, either as an appetizer or as a supplement, are considered to be a necessary daily nutrient.

The great nutritional value of Greek olives, in conjunction with their flavor and taste, has been well established. Olives are a unique, pure and natural product, essential for a healthy lifestyle, since they are low in calories (less than 10 calories per olive), high in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C , and also in iron and calcium -- all necessary for the normal function of the human body. Moreover, aminoacids present are essential to human nutrition; specific unsaturated fatty acids have vitaminic value for the human body while the bitter element "oleuropein" stimulates appetite.

Scientific research in Europe and the U.S. on mono-unsaturated fatty acids, (also present in olives), has shown that they can help fight heart disease -- first, by lowering the level of LDL cholesterol (the so-called "bad cholesterol") contained in the blood, and second, by maintaining intact HDL cholesterol, which is beneficial in decreasing the risk of blocked arteries.
 

References :

http://www.olives.gr/olive_fruit___.htm

http://www.olives.gr/nutritional___.htm

 

 

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